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A touch of Latin style

image Louie Rodriguez and his wife, Mara, are not just a team in marriage or as parents, but as partners on the dance floor.

SAN ANTONIO - The floors at Project Control heated up when 32-year-old Luis “Louie” Rodriguez joined the company as a project manager recently. Rodriguez and his wife, Mara, have been active in Latin dance since before they were married three years ago.









   Rodriguez credits dance with keeping his marriage going good and strong, and he highly recommends it for marriage counseling. While he loves playing billiards, he notes that he dances to stay married.
    Originally from East Chicago, IN, Rodriguez met Mara at an apartment complex in the Medical Center. He was drawn to her Indiana license plate and struck up a conversation with her only to learn that they had lived their whole lives an hour-and-a-half apart from each other in their home state.
    Before their daughter, Elsie, who is now 2 years old, was born, Mara was campus minister for Our Lady of the Lake University, having earned her master’s degree in pastoral studies from the University of the Incarnate Word. On the side, she was also a ballroom instructor.
    Rodriguez spent a lot of time watching Mara dance from the sidelines, and then he decided to take action. He asked Esteban, the owner of Studio One, where Mara used to be an instructor, if he would secretly teach him how to salsa dance so he could surprise her for Valentine’s Day.
    After four months of salsa classes, Rodriguez surprised her by walking her into the studio blindfolded, starting to dance, and removing the blindfold. He recalls that she started crying, and he had to tell her to get it together, because he worked very hard to learn the moves and didn’t want to mess up his footwork.
    Since getting out onto the dance floor, Rodriguez and his wife have become part of Island Touch, a global dance group that learns Latin routines. He and Mara have been doing bachata, a Dominican style of dance.
    They have had many performances in about a year-and-a-half, including several in San Antonio, Dallas, and at the 2016 Salsa Convention at the Grand Hyatt downtown. However, the couple has not performed in six months due to an injury to Mara’s ankle.
    While Rodriguez says that this is not about competing, the dance groups perform amongst other dance groups to show off their different styles, including difficult footwork, which he notes is a specialty of Island Touch.
    Though Rodriguez went into engineering initially intent on becoming an astronaut, he wound up on a career path closer to the earth, and now he’s helping to build structures out of that earth and managing to float on air with his feet still on the ground. –mh

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Mary Hazlett mary@constructionnews.net