Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer, dedicated dance educator of over 30 years, and co-founder of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance. 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.
Manzanales’ newest choreography for Ballet Hispánico (BH), Sor Juana, “is simply stunning in its translation of a life into a work of dance art” cheers Critical Dance writer Jerry Hochman. Sor Juana premiered at New York City Center in June 2023 and is about the life of Mexican poet, scholar, and feminist, Juana Inés de la Cruz. Other recent choreography commissions include works for Ballet de Jalisco, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Oregon Ballet Theater, Rutgers University, and Montclair State University.
Michelle’s, Con Brazos Abiertos, also created for BH, is described as a “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times) and “an exceptional, heart-tugging beauty” (-Los Angeles Times). Con Brazos Abiertos premiered in 2017 and has since toured worldwide to critical acclaim including its feature at the BAAND Together Dance Festival at Lincoln Center and 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.” Five of her works have been recognized by ACDA, 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).
Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance member, Michelle has served on the National Association of Schools of Dance’s Committee on Ethics, juror for the Nebraska Arts Council-Individual Artist Fellowships, panelist for Dance/NYC's #ArtistsAreNecessaryWorkers Facebook Live Series: Arts Educators Leading the Charge, adjudicator for the Ailey BFA program’s Independent Study in Choreography Showing, and was a panelist for 92Y’s Future Dance Festival for emerging choreographers, Ballet Hispánico’s Instituto Coreográfico, and the Houston Arts Alliance grants program.
She has presented at numerous conferences which include the New York State Dance Educators Association, ARTs + Change, the National Dance Education Organization, and Decolonizing tertiary dance education: Time to act. A current faculty member at Ballet Hispánico, she has been on faculty at the University of Houston, Rice University, and Lou Conte Dance Studio. 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, Puerto Rico Classical Dance Competition, 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 studios, schools, and college programs nationwide and internationally.