• Kristyn Burtt

How Ballet on Film Opened New Doors for Choreographer Melissa Barak

Updated: Oct 12


The pandemic created incredible obstacles for the dance community, but former New York City Ballet dancer and Barak Ballet founder/choreographer Melissa Barak found a new way to create. After her full-length stage production, Memoryhouse, was canceled last spring, Barak pivoted to a different medium — she took her work to the screen. The choreographer is opening up a new world of possibilities with her artistic creations. First up is Breathe In, which will be shown as a part of a drive-in event, Grace and Grit, with Westside Ballet on Oct. 9 and 10.


More: From 'Joika' to 'The White Swan,' Ballet Star Joy Womack Is Ready to Share Her Life Story


"I wanted to create a dance film that captured the mood of the times. The lead male dancer in the film, Peter Chursin, serves as the catalyst for the other dancers to join in on his longing for freedom and better days. It’s a tough time as a dancer right now," says Barak. "No one knows exactly when we’ll be able to perform as we once used to. That uncertainty has left a lot of dancers, particularly in the performing arts, feeling nervous and stuck. Peter sort of reawakens that life, hope, and inspiration within them."


Learn more about Melissa Barak's pivot during the pandemic, her next dance film project and how Westside Ballet has been an integral part of her ballet career:

Grace and Grit will be presented at the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus, East Parking Lot, on Friday & Saturday, Oct. 9 and 10 at 7:30 & 10 p.m. For tickets and information: Grace and Grit.


Before you go, check out ballet's bright future — interviews with Kayla Mak & Kaeli Ware.

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel yet? We have weekly interviews uploaded with your favorite performers and choreographers from the dance industry.

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