Photo by Brian Guilliaux
MELISSA M. YOUNG
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 in New York City. She trained in three of their programs: Summer Intensive, Certificate Program and Fellowship. During her Fellowship studies, she was selected to train as an exchange student at Amsterdam School of the Arts (de Theaterschool) in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Overall, her professional training includes: Ballet, Modern (Horton and Graham), and Jazz techniques, as well as West African dance.
This marks Melissa’s 28th season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Young started her career at DBDT as a dancer for 11 years, then Rehearsal Director, Academy Director, Associate Artistic Director, Interim Artistic Director, and was appointed as Artistic Director on September 25, 2018. Her most notable performances include: The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors in New York City, and for the U.S. Ambassadors to Ireland and Zimbabwe. She has restaged and rehearsed the diverse repertoire of DBDT, which spans over 80 ballets. She was an Assistant to the Choreographers, Hope Clarke for the Dallas Opera’s Porgy and Bess (2009) and Christopher L. Huggins for Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Wiz (2011).
Teaching master classes both nationally and internationally, Melissa specializes in the Dance Technique of Lester Horton. She was the primary Horton Technique Instructor for Dallas Black Dance Theatre from 1998–2017. As an Adjunct Instructor, she taught the Horton Technique at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University in 2004 and Texas Woman’s University in Denton from 2005–2008. She was on faculty (Horton Technique) at Ballet Center for Fort Worth and Dallas Youth Repertory Project, and continues to serve as a guest teacher at both schools. In 2014, Melissa was the Visiting Dance Artist for Abilene Christian University’s Department of Theatre. She taught ballet, modern and lyrical jazz techniques.
Melissa currently serves on the Next Generation Leadership Committee for the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Inc. She has served as an advisory panelist for City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs, Young Audiences of Dallas, Texas Commission on the Arts and Arkansas Arts Council, as well as serving as a board member for the Dance Council of North Texas from 2010–2013. In 2000, she was presented with The Dancer’s Award 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 November 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 March 2019, Melissa was honored with the “We Speak Your Name” Career Achievement Award.
Photo by Brian Guilliaux
Photo by Brian Guilliaux
RICHARD A. FREEMAN, JR.
Artistic Project Coordinator
A native of Washington, D.C., Richard began his training with District of Columbia Youth Ensemble and the Washington Ballet. He received additional training from Duke Ellington School of the Arts, as well as Virginia Commonwealth University. He danced professionally with Elisa Monte Dance, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Arts Unlimited, and Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Freeman has had the pleasure to perform in Operas/Musicals such as Casa Blanca, Brothers of the Knight, Dreams, Porgy and Bess, The WIZ and Rusalka. Some of his commercial credits include Mary Kay, Holiday Inn, and Chuck E. Cheese. Richard has choreographed works for the Atlanta Dance Connection, Texas Ballet Theater School, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, DBDT: Encore!, Urban Souls Dance Company, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and I. M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA. Richard has been the resident choreographer for Dallas Black Dance Theatre as well as the ballet master for Spring Cypress Dance Center. He has performed works by world renowned choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Ben Stevenson, Debbie Allen, Christopher L. Huggins, Nejla Y. Yatkin, Alonzo King and many others. Along side performing he also teaches master classes and workshops across the nation. Mr. Freeman is currently the Artistic Project Coordinator for both DBDT, and DBDT: Encore! This is his 15th season with the company.