Dr Melissa Blanco Borelli

Personal profile

Melissa Blanco Borelli is Reader in Dance and Performance in the Drama, Theatre & Dance Department. She joined the faculty in 2013 to start the first joint honours programme in Drama and Dance. Prior to this appointment she was in the Dance department at University of Surrey. She has a BA in International Relations and Music (double major) from Brown University, an MA in Communications from the Annenberg School at University of Southern California, and received her PhD in Dance History and Theory (now Critical Dance Studies) from University of California, Riverside. 

She is the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen (OUP, 2014) and  She Is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body (OUP, 2015) which won the 2016 De la Torre Bueno Prize for best book in Dance Studies by the Society of Dance History Scholars (now known as The Dance Studies Association). Other publications include chapters in Black Performance Theory (Duke University Press, 2014), Zizek and Performance (Palgrave, 2014), The Oxford Handbook of Screendance (OUP, 2016), The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition (OUP, 2018), and journal articles in International Journal of Screendance, and Women & Performance. She co-edited a special issue of the International Journal of Screendance on race and nation in screendance (2018), and co-edited a special issue on the popular as political for Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies (April 2019).

She was a featured presenter in the Extraordinary Women: Josephine Baker documentary, has worked with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in their collaborations with choreographer Henri Oguike, and has led writing workshops on critical writing with Sanjoy Roy (dance critic at The Guardian). 

She served on the Executive Board of the Society of Dance History Scholars and on the Executive Committee of the Society for Dance Research. She served on the Editorial Board for the UK journal Dance Research. She is also a member of  PoP Moves, an international organisation which examines performances of popular dance in its many iterations globally. She was the Managing Editor of Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies. Currently, she is President of the Dance Studies Association.

Her research interests and specialisms include: blackness in Latin America (Colombia, Cuba); Latin American popular dance; popular dance on screen; media and film; black performance theory; performance ethnography; feminist historiography; auto-ethnography; embodied identity politics (particularly race, gender and sexuality); dance theatre devising/choreography; and performative writing.

Current research includes a new monograph on embodied aesthetics and politics in film, dance, performance art and sound projects by Afro-Latinx artists; and an AHRC/Newton Fund/Colciencias grant to co-create a digital archive with rural black communities affected by the Colombian paramilitary conflict. 

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