It is an honor for me to be selected as one of the Jury members for the Prix de Lausanne’s 50th Anniversary. This competition represents excellence in dance and the participants represent the next generation of artists.
Melanie Person began her early dance training in Jackson, Mississippi at age 6. Upon moving to Columbia, South Carolina a few years later, she continued her dance training at the Calvert-Brodie School of Dance while performing with the Columbia City Ballet. In the winter of 1976, by recommendation of her teacher Ann Brodie, Ms. Person auditioned for the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) Summer Intensive and was offered a full scholarship. Upon completion of that summer programme, she became an apprentice to the professional company and, in 1979, became a full member at the age of 16 after graduating from Professional Children’s School. For 12 years, Ms. Person performed with DTH, traveling around the world performing a diverse repertoire. She performed choreography by artistic luminaries including George Balanchine, Geoffrey Holder, Agnes de Mille, Glen Tetley, Garth Fagan and Arthur Mitchell, DTH’s Founder and Artistic Director. Her television credits include performances in NBC’s presentation of DTH’s Creole Giselle, CBS 60 Minutes with Ed Bradley featuring DTH, the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics and the PBS presentation of Live at the Kennedy Center The Making of Firebird. She later went on to earn her B.A. from SUNY Empire State College. In 1999, Denise Jefferson invited her to join the PPAS ballet faculty at The Ailey School and in 2000 Ms. Jefferson appointed her as the Co-Director of the Junior Division alongside Tracy Inman. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Person was made Chair of the ballet department and President of the Emergency Fund for Student Dancers. Ms. Person has been on the faculty of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, the Ballet Hispanico School, Marymount Manhattan College, Purchase College and a teaching artist in the New York City Public School System. She is a member of the Council of Dance Administrators. Additionally, she has guest taught at The Flint Institute of Music, Dance Institute of Washington, Boston Ballet School and The Adaclam School in French Guyana. Ms. Person has been an adjudicator for the Youth American Grand Prix and Japan Grand Prix. In addition, Ms. Person has served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Schools of Dance. In 2009, she was named Associate Director of The Ailey School and in 2010, Co-Director w ith Tracy Inman after Ms. Jefferson’s passing. For over a decade, Ms. Person has been a supervisor of the New Directions Choreography Lab working with Ailey’s Artistic Director Robert Battle to provide opportunities for t h e next generation of choreographers and dance artists.