Director, School of Dance
Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer, dedicated dance educator of 30 years, and co-founder of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance. The Director of Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance since December of 2016, Michelle previously led the organization’s professional company as Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate for seven seasons. Ms. Manzanales is committed to creating an environment where all students are inspired to explore movement, feel supported in their individual dance journeys, and draw meaningful connections between dance and their lives.
Manzanales has co-presented at the New York State Dance Educators Association, ARTs + Change, and the National Dance Education Organization conferences, “Questioning TODO: A Latinx Inquiry of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy”, a direct response to the historical and continued exclusion of Latinx contributions and experiences in the dance field. A current faculty member of the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance, she has also served on the faculties of the University of Houston, Rice University, Lou Conte Dance Studio (former Home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), and the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center. She has been a guest artist for the Professional Work Sessions at STEPS on Broadway, the Joyce Master Class Series at Gibney, the Taylor School, New Orleans Ballet Association, the Puerto Rico Classical Dance Competition, Generation Dance Festival Houston, Artisan Ballet Company, Regional Dance America, Festival de Danza Cordoba-Youth America 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.
A member of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Michelle has served on the National Association of Schools of Dance’s (NASD) Committee on Ethics, juror for the Nebraska Arts Council - Individual Artist Fellowships, a panelist for Dance/NYC's #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers Facebook Live Series: Arts Educators Leading the Charge, 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 education project ‘All Together: A Global Ode to Joy.’ Ms. Manzanales is currently on the selection panel for 92Y’s Future Dance Festival for emerging choreographers and was a past panelist for Ballet Hispánico’s Instituto Coreográfico and the Houston Arts Alliance grants program.
Her current choreography commissions set to premiere in Spring 2022 include new works for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Oregon Ballet Theater, and Montclair State University. Her choreography for Ballet Hispánico, Con Brazos Abiertos, described as a “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times) and “an exceptional, heart-tugging beauty” (LA Times), premiered in 2017, and has since toured worldwide to critical acclaim including its feature at New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival. CautivadX, a dance film she choreographed, edited, and directed for Noche Unidos, A Ballet Hispánico Night of Dance and Unity was presented in June 2020. 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).
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 also been presented by Texas Contemporary Weekend (Houston, TX), Spring to Dance (St. Louis, MO), Festival de Danza Córdoba (Veracruz, Mexico), Capital Fringe Festival (Washington D.C), and Fort Worth Dance Festival (Fort Worth, TX).