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Northwestern School of Communication

Melissa Blanco Borelli

Associate Professor


Melissa Blanco Borelli

Melissa Blanco Borelli is a writer, dancer, cultural critic, Associate Professor of Theatre and the new director of the dance program at Northwestern. She has been faculty at MIT, University of Surrey (UK), Royal Holloway, University of London (UK) and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Her research interests include Blackness in Latin America, critical dance studies, performance studies/performative writing, popular dance on screen, feminist (auto)ethnography, historiography, and the digital humanities. She was the Principal Investigator in a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded grant project (2018-2020) that focused on embodied performance practices, memory, and archives. Blanco Borelli and her co-researchers at the Universidad de Antioquia worked with Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities affected by the Colombian armed conflict and created a web-based digital archive that highlights their worldmaking creative practices. The archive can be found at and her collaborative research on performance, embodiment and the digital continues via She is the author of She is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body which won the De la Torre Bueno Prize for best book in dance studies in 2016. She is also the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen (2014). Her scholarly work appears in journals such as The Black Scholar, Contemporary Theatre Review, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, The International Journal of Screendance and in numerous anthologies including Black Performance Theory, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition, Zizek and Performance and The Oxford Handbook of Screendance. She is the current President of the Dance Studies Association.


  • PhD, University of California, Riverside
  • MA, University of Southern California
  • BA, Brown University