MELISSA VILLLARREAL, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Melissa

Began dancing under the direction of Rodolfo Mendez at the age of 14, with Ballet East Dance Company.  Throughout her years as a performer with Ballet East, Ms. Villarreal had the opportunity to work with various talented and notable local, national, and international choreographers such as Fred Benjamin, Max Luna III, Regina Larkin, Carmen De Lavallade, Bruce Wood, Hope Boykin, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Eugene Slavin, Stephen Mills, Jason Ansara Brooks, Andrea Ariel, Toni Bravo, Andrea Beckham, Lyn Wiltshire, Gina Patterson, Eric Midgley, and Danny Herman to name a few.  In June 1997, July 1998, and July 2000, Ms. Villarreal attended master classes in New York through scholarships awarded by Regina Larkin, Artistic Director of the Joyce Trisler Danscompany.

In 1996, Villarreal became the Assistant Artistic Director, resident choreographer, and teacher of Ballet East Dance Company, and in 2010 - the Associate Artistic Director.  She has set over 35 original works on the company.  Her first work; "And God Created Woman", was premiered in December 1997.  She has been invited as a guest choreographer for Tapestry's Vision In Rhythm, Paramount Theater's Summer Youth Project, East Side Memorial High School's Drill Team, Nudo Piedi Contemporary Dance Company, UpRise! Productions, and Proyecto Teatro.  Ms. Villarreal's collaborative and independent works have been featured at the Annual National Spitfest, The Hot September Flurries, Frontera Fest, Zilker Park's Trail of Lights, Austin Dance Fest, and the Paramount Theater in Austin.  Her 1999's choreography, "Liquid Diamonds", was commissioned by the Muse Project and performed in Hollywood, California.  

As a guest teacher she has been invited to teach workshops and master classes for St. Edward's University Ballet Folklorico and Ballet Afrique in Austin; and Nudo Piedi Contemporary Dance Company in Laredo, Texas.  She has trained, taught, and mentored dancers for over 20 years.  Her dance protege, Juan Pablo Flores received a nomination nod from the 2012 Austin's Critic Table Awards for her 2012 work of "Engulfing Addiction", which she choreographed and directed.  Her choreography with LCPA dancers for the dance-theater collaboration with Proyecto Teatro production of "Ella" was nominated for a B. Iden Payne Award in 2016. Recently, March 2018, an excerpt of her work, "Going At The Stop", was selected and performed for the ModArts Collective Thread Dance Festival in NYC. 

Ms. Villarreal is also the Cultural Arts Coordinator for Southwest Key's Latino Arts Preservation Program, where she oversees arts programming for youth and adults in Ballet Folklorico, Mariachi, Bilingual Theater, Spoken Word, and Orchestra.  An active arts advocate in the East Austin Community, Ms. Villarreal has assisted many artists in East Austin with overlapping arts resources to continue building stronger relationships between artists to create a stronger support network in providing arts to the underserved population of Austin. Additional key roles she holds is Vice President of LULAC Council #4933, and Arts Advisory for Ashe Arts Academy, Dove Springs Youth Advisory Council. In Spring 2010 and 2012, she was nominated by Southwest Key for the Ballet Austin Guild's "Women On Their Toes Award", due to her extensive commitment and dedication of services to the East Austin Community through the arts.  

As a continuum of creating a platform of diverse arts in East Austin, Ms. Villarreal worked collaboratively with a community of advisors, parents, and performing artists to create Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts.  Her vision is to provide East Austin's youth and adults a wider range of arts, to embrace, learn, and practice - while encouraging the underserved population to find their voice and become tomorrow's proactive leaders of Austin.

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