Melissa Blanco Borelli is Senior Lecturer, Dance in the Drama and Theatre Department at Royal Holloway, University of London. 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. 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 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 currently serves on the Society for Dance Research. She is also a member of PoP Moves, an international organisation which examines performances of popular dance in its many iterations globally.
Her research topics include: blackness in Latin America, particularly in Cuba; Latin American popular dance; film studies; popular dance on screen; 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 projects include historical fiction about the mulata subject as ‘conjurer’ particularly across temporal and spatial geographies; the role, practice and significance of dance in Latin America (or by Latin American choreographers working in Europe) within post-Fordist neoliberal capitalism; and decolonial aesthetics.