Vanessa and Bradley Montoya Win on the Dance Floor

The duo dances their way to the top in just about every category of competition.


Vanessa and Bradley Montoya are like royalty living in our midst: They recently won the world championship for country dancing in their division and are now competing in the top tier of competitive country dancing. Think of Dancing with the Stars, give them a modern country-Western song, give them a new trophy to add to their many accolades, and then meet them in a local coffeehouse to chat about their achievements.

“It’s all subjective,” Bradley Montoya said. “But the subjective opinion is based on a wide criteria of artistry and style.” The Montoyas are professional competitive dancers in many styles of dance. Together, they’ve won championships in the Open Professional American Smooth and American Rhythm division of the National Dance Council of America contest. They are seven-time Showdance champions, salsa champions, and national finalists in Stage Argentine Tango, placing third in the United States (Official Argentine Tango Championships, USA) in 2013. Bradley has won the top teacher award 55 times while competing in the pro-am division at Arthur Murray Inc., NDCA, and World Dance Council competitions; Vanessa has won the top teacher award five times.

The two have been dancing together since about 2005, when Vanessa joined Bradley in a dance demonstration video. Once married but continuing today as business and dance partners, they have competed extensively around the world and are raising their 5-year-old son in Alameda.

While dancing all the time sounds like fun and games, said Vanessa, 30, “It’s more of a sport, a physical sport. We take it very seriously and train for it.” They have coaches in different styles of dance who help them tweak the tiniest details, because that’s what makes the difference between winning and losing at the masters level where they now compete. “Because everyone’s good,” noted Bradley, 37.

Vanessa grew up studying music and martial arts and earned a degree in music education and a black belt in Aikido. Bradley was recruited from a boxing ring in Portland, Ore., when he was a teenager, because he had the physical style and look the dance masters were seeking. Both have trained extensively and have taught and competed both separately and as a couple.

If you like to ballroom dance, or would like to learn, the Montoyas co-host Dancing Under the Stars at Jack London Square on Fridays in summer months, a free class and dance concert outdoors, with Bradley spinning the tunes. About 400 people show up to waltz, foxtrot, and salsa the night away. Visit for details.

The dancers can be found most days, when not traveling or competing, at Just Dance Ballroom in Oakland, where they teach private and group lessons. Vanessa specializes in customized wedding and event choreography, creating a unique partner dance for that special occasion.

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