Melissa Barak was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She trained at the Westside School of Ballet for eight years. In the Fall of 1997 she was accepted into the School of American Ballet's year round program in New York on the Janice Levin Scholarship and joined the New York City Ballet as a full company member in 1998. Ms. Barak 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 first New York 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 Outstanding Choreographic Promise and has been named a “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, New York Times to name a few, and appeared on the nationally televised CBS Early Show.
She has created new works for Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, and her own company, Barak Ballet as well as the National Choreographer’s Initiative in Irvine, CA 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. Her commercial work includes original choreography for Xayron in Hungary and Illusions in China. She was also the choreographer for Mattel’s recent animated feature film, Barbie in the Pink Shoes and a commercial for Samsung, directed by Mark Romanek. Ms. Barak is the inaugural recipient of the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choregoraphers through Center for Ballet and the Arts in New York City.
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. She has worked 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.