Melissa Melpignano

Fox Fine Arts Center
El Paso Texas, 79968
Phone Logo(915) 747-6509
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Melissa Melpignano
Assistant Professor of Instruction, Theatre and Dance - Chicano Studies
Director, Dance

I’m a dance scholar–practitioner researching the stakes of dancing and choreographing in contested regions and border areas. Through intersectional and decolonial methods, I engage with choreography among communities in disputed and militarized territories such as Israel/Palestine and the U.S.-Mexico border to show how artists strategize long-term conflict resolution. My work ultimately theorizes how dance can shape ideas of shared responsibility and livability. This is the object of some of my articles and my second book project Dancing Livability: Choreographing Contradictions in Israel/Palestine.As a transnational dance historian with an international career in theatrical dance, I also research how presence manifests in dance through textuality and overlooked sources, as shown in the forthcoming monograph Writings of the Presence: Gender and Colonial Variations in 18th and 19th Century Dance Librettos.My theoretical work is fueled by my artistic and community-engaged practices. As a choreographer, I collaborate with frontera and international artists to set in motion more livable futures. I direct #documance, a performance series that connects the audience to art-objects-as-bodies, and the InConcert project, a multi-format investigation of how we can better move together and renew stage performance. I’m alaso a founding member of the interdisciplinary collective Somos Agua/We Are Water.


  1. Dance
  2. Performance
  3. Border
  4. Conflict
  5. Frontera
  6. Livability