Black Leadership - Post-Pandemic Reconstruction

Thursday, February 29 | 6:00pm

Ballet Hispánico Penthouse Studio

Ballet Hispánico's signature conversation series exploring the interconnections of the arts, social justice, and Latinx cultures, returns with Diálogos: Black Leadership - Post-Pandemic Reconstruction, hosted by Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director & CEO, Ballet Hispánico. This event will take place on Thursday, February 29 at Ballet Hispánico's Penthouse Studio at 6:00pm.

Dialogos is in honor of Black History Month


For more information, please contact CAP Events & Partnership Manager, Ashley Heckstall.

Event Details

6:00 PM: Doors Open

6:30 PM: Panel Discussion

7:30 PM: Reception

Hosted by Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director & CEO, Ballet Hispánico

*Seating is general admission. Early arrival is recommended.*

Scroll down for information on our panelists


Artistic Director, Dallas Black Dance Theatre 

Associate Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


Civil Rights Attorney

Chief Engagement and Inclusion Officer, Ballet Hispánico

About the Panel

Melissa Young
Artistic Director, Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Melissa M. Young is a Honduran American raised in Santa Ana, California. Melissa is celebrating her thirtieth season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT). Young started her career at DBDT as a dancer for eleven years, then moved up the ranks as Rehearsal Director, Academy Director, Associate Artistic Director, Interim Artistic Director, and was appointed as Artistic Director in September 2018. Her most notable performances include The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, and for the U.S. Ambassadors to Ireland and Zimbabwe. She has restaged and rehearsed the diverse repertoire of DBDT, which spans over 100 ballets. She was an Assistant to the Choreographers, Hope Clarke for The Dallas Opera’s Porgy and Bess and Christopher L. Huggins for Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Wiz. Melissa is most proud of thoughtfully leading DBDT through the pandemic by using the many restrictions as a guide to push the boundaries of her imagination into a creative reality.

Melissa is a graduate of the Leadership Arts Institute, Class of 2022, a program of Business Council for the Arts in Dallas County. She is a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Inc. Melissa has served as an advisory panelist for arts organizations that include the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, Texas Commission on the Arts and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and is a former board member for the Dance Council of North Texas.

Matthew Rushing
Associate Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Matthew Rushing was born in Los Angeles, California. He began his dance training with Kashmir Blake in Inglewood, California, and continued his training at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. He is the recipient of a Spotlight Award and a Dance Magazine Award and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He was a scholarship student at The Ailey School and later became a member of Ailey II. During his career Mr. Rushing has performed as a guest artist for galas in Vail, Colorado, as well as in Austria, Canada, France, Italy, and Russia. He has performed for Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as at the 2010 White House Dance Series. During his time with the Company he has choreographed four ballets: Acceptance In Surrender (2005), a collaboration with Hope Boykin and Abdur-Rahim Jackson; Uptown (2009), a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance; ODETTA (2014), a celebration of “the queen of American folk music”; and Testament (2020), a tribute to Alvin Ailey’s Revelations created in collaboration with Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano. In 2012 he created Moan, which was set on Philadanco and premiered at The Joyce Theater. Mr. Rushing joined the Company in 1992, became Rehearsal Director 2010, and became Associate Artistic Director in January 2020.

Ayodele Casel

Ayodele Casel, a Doris Duke Artist in the dance category, is an award-winning and critically acclaimed tap dancer and choreographer named one of the New York Times’ “biggest breakout stars of 2019.” Born in The Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, her practice centers highly narrative works rooted in expressions of selfhood, culture and legacy. 

Her projects include her concert and Bessie Award-winning film “Chasing Magic,” her one-woman show “While I Have the Floor,” and her theatrical and film series “Diary of a Tap Dancer.” She serves as a tap choreographer for the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl,” which garnered her a 2022 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Choreography. A frequent New York City Center collaborator, she created an interactive show for their inaugural “On the Move” five-borough tour and is one of their 2023 featured “Artists at the Center.” Her collaboration with Grammy award-winning Latin jazz composer and pianist Arturo O’Farrill is hailed by the New York Times as “next level” and “thrilling.”

Casel has performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, and Off-Broadway with Savion Glover as the only woman in his touring company N.Y.O.T.s. (Not Your Ordinary Tappers). Her works have been presented at The Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center, New York City Center, Symphony Space, Dance Theater Workshop, The Triad Theater and Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, among others.

Angelo Pinto, Esq.
Civil Rights Attorney

Angelo Pinto has been called a Social Justice warrior, policy guru, movement lawyer and one of the most brilliant minds of our time by some of today’s most notable, respected leaders of the social justice movement. He is not only a critical voice in the fight for social change, but a leader who has created prolific impact, built movement institutions, and played a pivotal role in creating and elevating key movement issues.

Attorney Pinto co-created a teach-in at Occupy Wall Street on the prison industrial complex spurring a young movement around criminal justice reform now a national issue. He also co-founded Justice League NYC; a task force of the Gathering for Justice – an organization started by global activist entertainer Harry Belafonte. Justice League led mass demonstrations during the Eric Garner uprisings. In addition, Pinto has lent his expertise to procuring the freedom of rapper Meek Mill, elevating the profile of the NYPD (12 officers who sued the NYPD featured in the full feature documentary Crime and Punishment), helped start the Indigenous Peoples Movement/March that now boasts a social media following of well over a quarter million individuals globally; as well as creating the legislative campaign to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility in New York States which ended the housing of youth in adult jails and prisons which ultimately claimed the life of Kalief Browder and altered the lives of the Exonerated 5.

About the Moderator

Tamia Santana
Chief Engagement and Inclusion Officer

Tamia Santana is an advocate for dance and the arts. Previously she was Executive Director of the Brooklyn Dance Festival, owner of Jete Dance Center, Resident Dance Director of the Brooklyn Museum, Co-Founder and Executive Producer of the Tap Family Reunion Festival, and producer and Steering committee member of the televised Bessie’s New York Dance and Performance Awards. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Santana now raises her own family there. She serves on the Board of Directors for One Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, and READ 718. As a prominent concert dance and performance producer, Santana has executive produced and directed concerts and events at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Alvin Ailey Theater, Summer Stage, and The Schomburg Center Barclay’s Center, as well as for music artists such as Big Daddy Kane, Thomas Piper, and more. Her previous experience as a dancer has been performing at Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, and Europe.

Event Archive

October 29, 2022
The Impact of Immigrant Artists in Our Communities
September 22, 2022
Reimagining Heteronormativity in Dance
March 24, 2022
Diálogos Social Justice Through the Arts
October 15, 2021
Ballet Hispánico's 50 Year Legacy
October 5, 2021
Colorism in the Arts and Anti-blackness within Latinx Communities
September 2, 2020
The Stereotypes of Machismo in Dance
August 20, 2020
Colorism: The Afro-Latina Identity
January 10, 2018
Women of Color in the Arts
October 6, 2016
Flamenco: Finding Voice Through Fusion
August 4, 2016

Diálogos at the Arnhold Center

Log In

Forgot your password?