Catching up With the Company: Melissa Fernandez

Photo (c) Paula Lobo

Melissa Fernandez (c) Paula Lobo

 

Name: Melissa Fernandez

Age: 26

Hometown: Miami, Florida

What are you most looking forward to about this Joyce season?

I’m looking forward to managing the various roles and characters that I have to portray. This season, the pieces being presented are incredibly diverse in both theme and genre and that challenge excites me as an artist. Developing and cultivating a character in rehearsal and then onstage is a magical experience.

Who’s your biggest dance fan?

Hands down: my mother. She has been beside from the very first moment and I appreciate her constructive criticism even though by no means is she a ” dance mom.”

Melissa in rehearsal for Pedro Ruiz’s CLUB HAVANA © Jackeline Montalvo

Melissa in rehearsal for Pedro Ruiz’s CLUB HAVANA © Jackeline Montalvo

If you could describe CLUB HAVANA in one word, what would it be and why?

Seduction. Partially because of the character I play but also because as a Cuban American, all that has to do with our culture is purely seductive. Whether it’s the Cuban rhythms or sensuous moves–they all lure you in and seduce you in a very elegant yet sensual way.

“Developing and cultivating a character in rehearsal and then onstage is a magical experience.”

Do you have any pre or post-performance rituals? Lucky charms?

Aside from the typical warm up exercises and the energy filled company group circle, I like to pray in private for my fellow artists so that we may have an incredible performance.

Think back to your first day (ever) with the Ballet Hispanico company. How’d you feel? How do you feel now?

Wow, day one! That was 4 years ago and I remember being terrified and thrilled all at once. It was my very first professional job as a dancer right out of college and I was the youngest dancer as an apprentice. Nowadays I’m one of the oldest and I feel a great pride for this organization–a kind of respect and pride that takes maturity and years of lessons and moments of hardship and success. Ballet Hispanico has been and I believe will be one of the most brilliant and fulfilling parts of my professional and personal life.

If you weren’t a dancer, you would be a: 

A doctor, a journalist or a dolphin trainer.

Melissa in CLUB HAVANA. We’re pretty glad she didn’t pick dolphin training! © Paula Lobo

Melissa in CLUB HAVANA. We’re pretty glad she didn’t pick dolphin training! © Paula Lobo

Catch Melissa on stage at the Joyce Theater during our 45th Anniversary Season April 5-10! More info here: bit.ly/1kG2Kfu

 

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Summer Recap: From our Dancers

Melissa

Melissa

Martina

Martina

We’re happy to see our dancers back in the studios for the new season–but have you ever wondered what they do in their off time? We caught up with some of our company dancers to see how they spent their summers. Click on a dancer to hear from them!

Mario

Mario

Lauren

Lauren

Kim

Kim

Jamal

Jamal


What does it mean to perform at the Apollo?

December 1st marks Ballet Hispanico’s return to the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. Last year’s premiere was a life-changing moment for our Company dancers, and this year will be no different.

We asked mix of dancers new and returning to the Apollo about their anticipation of the big night.

Company member Melissa Fernandez will perform on the Apollo stage for the first time this year:

“As a first season dancer with Ballet Hispanico, I’ve approached every tour and every performance with great excitement and joy. Performing at the Apollo will mark our first New York performance of this 2012-2013 season. This fact brings me even more excitement and anticipation because I have many family members who live in New Jersey and will have the opportunity to see me do what I love as a professional and support all the diverse and talented artists that make up Ballet Hispanico.

“Dancing at the historic and famous Apollo Theater will be a memorable experience in and of itself. Harlem’s Apollo Theater has been the stage where “stars are born and legends are made.” It will be an enormous honor to dance on the stage where such great artists as Duke Ellington and Bruce Springsteen have performed. As a new member of the Harlem neighborhood and community, I am looking forward to performing for the people of my community in Harlem and New York City as a whole. I firmly believe that Ballet Hispanico’s presence at the Apollo Theater is a positive and enriching artistic endeavor that will enable the continued growth of Hispanic/Latin-infused contemporary dance. I am proud and honored to be a part of it.”

Company dancer Donald Borror, now in his third season at BH, offers a different perspective on the upcoming performance at the Apollo:

“Performing at the Apollo is a big deal. It means something to everybody. You usually don’t have to explain much when you say you’re dancing at the Apollo.

Backstage, and especially in the dressing rooms, there’s an energy that is really special. You literally can feel the history oozing out of the walls. While onstage, the balconies are so enveloping, it feels like the audience is truly a part of the performance. It’s all very inspiring!

I am also thrilled to be working with Paquito D’Rivera! Paquito is just the nicest, coolest guy…which makes how incredibly talented he is even better!”

Donald Borror in A vueltas con los ochenta (c) Paula Lobo

To see Melissa and Donald in the World Premiere of A vueltas con los ochenta, click HERE for tickets to the Apollo!


New Company Dancer Melissa Fernandez: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Ballet Hispanico kicks off its 2012-13 season on Monday when Company dancers begin rehearsing a new work with Spanish choreographers Inma García and Meritxell Barberá. As the summer ends, we welcome three new dancers to Ballet Hispanico: Major Nesby, Melissa Fernandez and Martina Calcagno.

Melissa, originally from Miami, graduated from The Julliard School in May 2012. She’s had an exciting summer as she waited to join Ballet Hispanico. She shared her summer vacation with us:

This warm and eventful summer has come and gone as quickly as a midday rain storm. This past May I graduated from The Juilliard School and found that outside of the invaluable but protective bubble of an arts conservatory there is a whole wide world to experience and explore.

Shortly after graduating I had the privilege of performing one last time as a member of The Juilliard Dance Ensemble in Beijing, China for the Beijing International Ballet Competition gala. While in Beijing I experienced so many exhilarating events such as walking (more like hiking) a portion of the Great Wall of China. Once my journey to the other side of the world was complete, I happily traveled back home to my family in Miami, FL where we spent quality time reconnecting and sun bathing by the crystalline shore of the Gulf coast.

Then came the most uplifting and exciting news of the summer! I auditioned once more for Ballet Hispanico and was thrilled to hear that Mr. Vilaro wanted to hire me for the 2012-2013 season! I’ll never forget the joy in my heart as Mr. Vilaro took me to meet Greg Stuart, our Company Manager, who the following day so kindly helped me sign my very first professional contract.

Finally, my summer concluded with a week long trip to Kodak, Tennessee where I spent my time hiking the expansive Smoky Mountains, exploring impressive underground caves and of course creating beautiful memories with friends.

In a nutshell my summer can be described in one word, “blessed.”

I’ve been blessed with experiences that have helped me grow not only as an artist but as an individual. As I begin my first season with Ballet Hispanico I pray that as I engulf my self in my craft and in learning from my fellow company members I will be as fulfilled and inspired as I was when I walked the Great Wall, hiked a portion of the Appalachian trail or spent quality time with family and friends. I have a strong feeling that I will.

You can meet all of the Ballet Hispanico dancers on our website!