Endowment

The Melza M. Barr Principal Dancer

Birthplace

Santa Cruz, California

Dance Training

Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre under Robert Kelley and Diane Cypher, Suzanne Farrell

Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy

Previous Companies

Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre

Whim W’Him with Olivier Wevers

Year Joined

2001

Promotions

Principal - 2008
Soloist - 2005

Bio

A native of Santa Cruz, California, Melody Mennite trained at Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre under Robert Kelley and Diane McLarty and at Pacific Northwest Ballet. She also attended summer intensive programs with Suzanne Farrell.

At the age of 13, Ms. Mennite began her training with Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy and also attended three consecutive summer intensive programs with the academy. In the 2000-2001 season, she spent one year in Houston Ballet II on full scholarship and stipend. Ms. Mennite also won a scholarship award from Regional Dance America in 2000.   At the age of 17, she joined the Company in 2001 as an apprentice, rose to Corps de Ballet dancer in 2002 then Soloist in 2005.  Ms. Mennite was promoted to principal in 2008.

She was invited to tour with Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre through Tansonmer, Austria. Prior to joining Houston Ballet, she performed numerous leading roles with Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre: the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker; Kitri in Don Quixote and Odette in Swan Lake.  Ms. Mennite has performed the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy as a guest artist with Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre in The Nutcracker productions since 2006.

Ms. Mennite has performed leading roles in ballets by Stanton Welch AM, John Cranko, Ben Stevenson OBE, Marius Petipa, Jiří Kylián, Christopher Bruce, George Balanchine, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, Justin Peck and Harold Lander.  Stanton Welch choreographed the full-length Marie with Mennite as his muse and title character, Marie Antoinette.  He choreographed a new production of The Nutcracker in 2016 with Mennite as Clara.  Welch has created many roles on her like Psyche in Sylvia, Cinderella in Cinderella, FallingThe Four SeasonsCarmina BuranaThe CoreBrigade, and Velocity.  Justin Peck created a role on her with his world premiere of Reflections in 2019.

In 2015, along with fellow Houston Ballet company members Oliver Halkowich and Connor Walsh, Mennite founded REACH - a choreographic project that raises money for arts education in schools.  Following the success of REACH, Mennite and her colleagues were invited to create a world premiere, entitled What we keep for Houston Ballet in spring of 2018. 

Ms. Mennite is also a choreographer and premiered Oh, There You Are at Houston Ballet’s Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance on November 30, 2018.

She frequently appears as a guest artist in galas and with companies nationally and internationally. She performs in Seattle with Whim W'Him, where she originated roles in Cylindrical Shadows by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Monster by Olivier Wevers.

Melody has that special undefinable quality, that ‘it’ factor. She can make something out of nothing. She’s such a good actor, human and natural, that’s why I so enjoy creating on her. You simply can’t ignore her when she is onstage.

Stanton Welch

Photos

Yu Wakizuka

Connor Walsh