2023/2024 Season > Artistic Director
Melissa Barak is an award-winning choreographer, former professional dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB) and Los Angeles Ballet, and founder of Barak Ballet before becoming LAB’s Artistic Director in 2022.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Barak began her ballet training at the age of eight at Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica, California under the direction of Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire. Her training continued in New York City at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of NYCB. In 1998, Barak was invited to join NYCB where she performed in numerous works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as originating roles in new ballets by Christopher Wheeldon, Elliot Feld, and Robert Garland among others.
Barak began exploring her choreographic talents throughout her time at SAB and NYCB. At the age of 21, she premiered her work Telemann Overture Suite in E Minor at the SAB June Workshop performance that quickly followed up with encore performances on NYCB the following season. Later that year another choreographic commission was offered by NYCB for their prestigious Diamond Project making her, at the time, the youngest choreographer to create an original work on the company. She has created new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Richmond Ballet, Dayton Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, and Barak Ballet, a Los Angeles based contemporary ballet company she founded in 2013.
She has had the honor of choreographing on dance luminaries including Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Justin Peck, Benjamin Millepied, and Robert Fairchild. 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. Her film and commercial credits include original choreography for Mattel’s feature film Barbie in the Pink Shoes, Xayron in Hungary, Illusions in China, and a Samsung commercial working alongside director Mark Romanek. Melissa has been awarded the Mae L. Wein and Choo San Goh awards for Outstanding Choreography and has been named a Dance Magazine “Top 25 to Watch”. She was also the inaugural recipient of the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choreographers through Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU.
LOS ANGELES BALLET
Learn about the comprehensive and varied seasons of Los Angeles Ballet since its debut in 2006. Repertoire includes Balanchine masterworks, stylistically meticulous classical ballets, commissioned and contemporary works by renowned local and international choreographers.