Melissa M. Young is a Honduran-American raised in Santa Ana, California. She attended Orange Coast College with a focus in Business Administration. She is a graduate of The Ailey School—The Official School of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. During her Fellowship studies, she was one of five students selected to train as an exchange student at Amsterdam University of the Arts in the Netherlands.
Melissa is celebrating her twenty-ninth season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT). Young started her career at DBDT as a dancer for eleven years, then moved up the ranks as Rehearsal Director, Academy Director, Associate Artistic Director, Interim Artistic Director, and was appointed as Artistic Director in September 2018. Her most notable performances include The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, and for the U.S. Ambassadors to Ireland and Zimbabwe. She has restaged and rehearsed the diverse repertoire of DBDT, which spans over 100 ballets. She was an Assistant to the Choreographers, Hope Clarke for The Dallas Opera’s Porgy and Bess and Christopher L. Huggins for Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Wiz. Melissa is most proud of thoughtfully leading DBDT through the pandemic by using the many restrictions as a guide to push the boundaries of her imagination into a creative reality.
Teaching master classes both nationally and internationally, Melissa specializes in the Dance Technique of Lester Horton. She was the primary Horton Technique Instructor for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre company dancers from 1998-2017. As an Adjunct Instructor, she has taught at Southern Methodist University, Texas Woman’s University, and Abilene Christian University. Over the years, she has led several movement workshops for Leadership North Texas and Leadership Dallas.
Melissa is a participant of the Leadership Arts Institute, Class of 2022, a program of Business Council for the Arts in Dallas County. She is a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Inc. Melissa has served as an advisory panelist for arts organizations that include the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, Texas Commission on the Arts and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and is a former board member for the Dance Council of North Texas.
Melissa was presented with The Dancer’s Award in 2000 for her artistic excellence and dedication to Dallas Black Dance Theatre. She was chosen as one of “The Talented Tenth” by The Dallas Weekly in 2010, for being a Young and Emerging Leader. In 2014, she received an Award of Recognition from the South Dallas Dance Festival for her service to dance and in 2016, the Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence. In 2017, Melissa received the Shining Star Award from the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance for her significant contributions to dance in Texas and beyond. During the 57th Annual South Central District Conference of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. in 2019, Melissa was honored with the “We Speak Your Name” Career Achievement Award.