Melissa Barak, Artistic Director of Barak Ballet, was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and has achieved a multitude of accomplishments as both a professional ballet dancer and choreographer. While dancing with the New York City Ballet (1998 – 2007), she began exploring her choreographic talents. She was invited by Peter Martins, director of the New York City Ballet, to participate in the inaugural NY Choreographic Institute. The piece she created impressed him so that he commissioned her to choreograph a ballet for the School of American Ballet’s June workshop performance. The ballet she made, Telemann Overture Suite, was met with critical acclaim. Mr. Martins brought Telemann into the company’s repertoire the very next season and immediately asked her to choreograph again, this time on the company. She was only 22, making her the youngest choreographer in New York City Ballet history to be commissioned an original work.
Melissa has been awarded the Mae L. Wien and Choo San Goh Awards for Choreography and was named one of the “Top 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. She has had featured articles written about her in such publications as Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit, TimeOut, ELLEgirl, Angeleno, LA Times Magazine to name a few, and appeared on the nationally televised CBS Early Show. She has created new works for Richmond Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, National Choreographer’s Initiative, and several New York Choreographic Institutes. In 2009 and 2010, she was invited to return to the New York City Ballet where she created two more works, A Simple Symphony and Call Me Ben, respectively. She choreographed Mattel’s recent animated feature film Barbie in the Pink Shoes and was named an L.A. Times “Face to Watch” for 2013 and 2014. The Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned Ms. Barak and the Barak Ballet recent works in 2015 (Fall Gala Beethoven Tribute) and in 2016 (an original Nutcracker Suite). Barak also became the inaugural recipient of the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choregraphers through NYU’s Center for Ballet and the Arts.
Her dancing credits with New York City Ballet include Fairy Carabosse from Sleeping Beauty, Coffee from the Nutcracker, and Russian pas de deux from Swan Lake. In 2007, Barak joined the very new Los Angeles Ballet and danced lead roles in Balanchine’s Serenade, Kammermusik No. 2, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto among others during her tenure there. She has worked closely with choreographic notables Alexei Ratmansky and Elliot Feld. The highly esteemed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon created principal roles for her in his Rhapsodie Fantaisie, and Klavier.