Director, School of Dance

Michelle Manzanales

Director, School of Dance

Before being named Director of the School of Dance in December of 2016, Michelle Manzanales was in the midst of her seventh season as the Ballet Hispánico Company Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate. She first began working with Ballet Hispánico CEO & Artistic Director, Eduardo Vilaro, in 2003 as a dancer for Luna Negra Dance Theater of Chicago, where Manzanales later became Rehearsal Director in 2006 and eventually served as Artistic Director from 2009-2010.

A choreographer and dance educator originally from Houston, TX, Michelle has over 25 years of teaching experience serving on the faculties of Ballet Hispánico, Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, Regional Dance America, Festival de Danza Cordoba-Youth American Grand Prix, as well as master teacher for numerous other dance studios, schools, and college dance programs nationwide and internationally.

Ms. Manzanales has choreographed works for professional dance companies, universities, and schools across the nation. She was commissioned to set an original choreography, which she entitled Con Brazos Abiertos, for the main company of Ballet Hispánico for their 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 extensively to critical acclaim, including its inclusion in New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival. Con Brazos Abiertos is slated to grace the stage once again for Ballet Hispánico's 2019 fall season at the world famous Apollo Theater this November.

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).


Contact the School of Dance Office at or by calling 212-362-6710, ext. 72.

Michelle Manzanales, Director, School of Dance

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