First Soloist, Royal Ballet Covent Garden
Invited Principal Dancer, Semperoper Ballet
Dance Open: 2014, 2015, 2017
She was born in Northern Ireland and began her training there. Her talent was obvious but there were no professional ballet schools in Northern Ireland and her parents insisted on receiving basic general education in her home town.
When she was 16, she was rejected the entry at the Royal Ballet School, but the Elmhurst School of Dance gave her the second chance. In a year almost all the ballet coaches, although pointing out her talent, admitted that it would not seem possible to catch up with her peers who started their training 5–6 years earlier. And, yet, the luck did not leave Melissa — she was noticed by Maria Mukhamedova, the former dancer with the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia and the spouse of Irek Mukhamedov, the legend of the Bolshoi.
In 7 months of intensive individual training Melissa achieved the impossible: she won the Grand Prix of the Youth Ballet Competition of America and was invited to join the American Ballet Theater II. She preferred to stay in Europe and started performing with the Royal Ballet, where she was promoted to the rank of the First Soloist in 2013. She received the Critics' Circle Award for Outstanding Female Performance (2009).
Along with performing a wide classical repertoire, she works a lot with contemporary choreographers. Among them are Wayne McGregor (Infra, Limen, Carbon Life, Chroma, Raven Girl); Christopher Wheeldon (Tryst, DGV, Fool’s Paradise) and David Dawson (Human Seasons).
She started working with Wayne McGregor in 2008 on his ballet Infra and has since created several roles for McGregor, including in Woolf Works, Limen, Carbon Life and Acis and Galatea. McGregor names her among one of his muses.
Since 2015 she has been performing as the invited principal dancer with the Semperoper Ballet.