Director, School of Dance
Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer, dedicated dance educator of nearly 30 years, and former dancer originally from Houston, Texas. Before being named Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance Director in December of 2016, Michelle was in the midst of her seventh season as the company’s Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate. She currently serves on the National Association of Schools of Dance’s (NASD) Committee on Ethics, has served as a juror for the Nebraska Arts Council, Individual Artist Fellowships, a panelist for Dance/NYC's #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers Facebook Live Series: Arts Educators Leading the Charge, an adjudicator for the Independent Study in Choreography Showing for Ailey’s BFA program, and was honored to be part of a round table planning dialogue supporting Carnegie Hall’s major education project All Together: A Global Ode to Joy’.
Manzanales has served on the faculties of Ballet Hispánico, Lou Conte Dance Studio, University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, and has been a guest artist for the Puerto Rican Classical Dance Competition, Professional Work Sessions at STEPS on Broadway, the Joyce Master Class Series at Gibney, the Taylor School, New Orleans Ballet Association, Generation Dance Festival Houston, Artisan Ballet Company, Regional Dance America, Festival de Danza Cordoba-Youth American Grand Prix, Houston’s Kinder High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, along with numerous other dance studios, schools, and college dance programs nationwide and internationally.
With choreography a close second in her heart to dance education, Ms. Manzanales is excited to currently be in process for a newly commissioned work she is creating for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, poised to premiere in 2021. Michelle’s choreography “…isn’t just about one girl’s experience; it applies to everyone, of any gender, and of any culture,” said CriticalDance. Her most recent premiere was of CautivadX, a dance film she choreographed, edited, and directed for Noche Unidos, A Ballet Hispánico Night of Dance and Unity in June 2020. Another recent work, If by Chance... which she created for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 75th Anniversary Gala in December 2019, “unspooled dreamily atop and between the tables” (-Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine). Manzanales created Con Brazos Abiertos for Ballet Hispánico which premiered in the company’s 2017 spring season at the Joyce Theater. This “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican-American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times) has since toured worldwide to critical acclaim including its inclusion in New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival.
Other acclaimed works by Manzanales include her 2010 homage to Frida Kahlo, Paloma Querida, which was hailed a "visual masterpiece" by Lucia Mauro of the Chicago Tribune and was described by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “gorgeously designed, richly hallucinatory, multi-faceted vision of the artist.” Her 2007 choreography for Luna Negra Dance Theater, entitled Sugar in the Raw (Azucar Cruda), was applauded by the Chicago Sun-Times as "a staggering, beautiful, accomplished new work." Five of her works have been recognized by the American College Dance Festival, of which two were presented at the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), for their National Gala; Pour Me Out in 2006 and The Letting Go in 2008. Manzanales’ choreography has been presented by Texas Contemporary Weekend (Houston, TX), Spring to Dance (St. Louis, MO), Festival de Danza Córdoba (Veracruz, Mexico), and Fort Worth Dance Festival (Fort Worth, TX).