Steven Melendez

Steven Melendez

Artistic Director

Steven Melendez was born in New York City in 1986 and began his ballet training as part of the LIFT Scholarship Program at Ballet School New York at the age of seven. Later, he studied at the School of American Ballet and attended summer programs with the San Francisco Ballet Academy, Houston Ballet Academy, and Kaatsbaan International School.

In 2001 Melendez joined New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB) as an apprentice and in 2006 was promoted to Principal. While there he performed leading roles in choreographies by Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Butler, Agnes DeMille, Donald Mahler, Antony Tudor, and others. In 2004, while dancing with New York Theatre Ballet, he graduated from the American Ballet Theater Studio Company Associate Program The program culminated in a performance of Oblivion by Jessica Lang and Continuo by Antony Tudor.

For the 2006 season Melendez was invited to Buenos Aires as a Guest Soloist to perform with Ballet Concierto, directed by Inaki Urlezaga. His repertory there included Carmen (Alonso), Don Quixote (Baryshnikov), Symphonic Variations (Ashton) and Borodin (Ariaz). While performing with Ballet Concierto, Melendez traveled extensively performing in international ballet galas and festivals in Argentina, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela, Ecuador, Estonia, Spain, and Italy.

In 2007 Melendez joined the Vanemuine Theater Ballet Company in Tartu, Estonia as a principal dancer. With the Vanemuine Theater he has performed principal roles in Onegin (Medvedjev), The Nutcracker (Isberg), Giselle (Feco) and Peter Pan (Titova). The leading male role in Par Isberg’s Uinuv Kaunitar (Sleeping Beauty) as well as the title role in Ruslan Stepanov’s Kevade were both choreographed on him.

In 2008 Melendez received a Diploma from the 5th Rudolf Nureyev International Ballet Competition in Budapest, Hungary. He also received special recognition from head jurist Maya Plisetskya for his second- round performance of Onegin. Afterwards, he was invited to perform in the gala entitled Celebrating the Classical Male Dancer and later represented Estonia at the 13th International Baltic Ballet Festival in Riga, Latvia.

Melendez returned to New York City in March 2010 for New York Theatre Ballet’s Signature 10 series as a Principal Guest Artist performing José Limon’s Mazurkas and rejoined the company full-time for the following season. In 2011 Melendez worked with British choreographer Sir Richard Alston to create his new work A Rugged Flourish and performed Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane for NYTB’s Signatures 12. Melendez is a Van-Lier Fellowship recipient and was a 2012 Clive Barnes Foundation Award Nominee.

In 2015 Melendez celebrated his 15th season with New York Theatre Ballet performing world premieres in works by Pam Tanowitz and Nicolo Fonte, and U.S. premieres of Alston’s Such Longing and Light Flooding into Darkened Rooms. He was a frequent guest artist at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica and Ballet Palm Beach.

Melendez co-choreographed his first large-scale work, Song Before Spring, for New York Theatre Ballet which was named a Dance Europe critic's choice “Best Premiere” of 2016.

Melendez has served as a faculty member of Ballet School New York and the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Program in New York City and has held an annual summer workshop in Nagoya, Japan for over 10 years.

Since 2018 Melendez has been a member of the alumni advisory committee on diversity and inclusion for School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. From 2019, he was the Hiland Artistic Director for National Dance Institute New Mexico where he created Vastness, a socially distanced dance film for a global pandemic, which aired on New Mexico PBS. He is also the subject of a feature-length documentary, LIFT, directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker David Petersen, with Executive Producers Sam Pollard and Jannat Gargi. LIFT premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Festival where it received a 2nd place Audience Award and it has been nominated for the 2022 Children’s Resilience in Film Award at Shine Global.

In May 2022, Melendez was named Artistic Director of New York Theatre Ballet.

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