Melanie George

Educator, Choreographer, Scholar


I have great interest in upsetting traditional hierarchies in dance on the stage and the page. Each creative project I undertake involves a three-pronged approach to inquiry - pedagogy, choreography, and research. My work supports my belief that growth in the dance field requires documentation, reflection, and questioning of what we know, value and create. 

Photo by Gracie Corapi

Melanie George is a dance educator, choreographer, and scholar.  She holds a BA in dance from Western Michigan University, an MA in dance and Graduate Certificate in Secondary Teaching from American University, and movement analysis certification from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York.

After two fulfilling years as resident scholar at Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts (formerly American Dance Institute), she joined the organization full time in 2016. As dramaturg, she works closely with internationally recognized contemporary performing artists in the incubation of new works for the stage. In her role for Lumberyard, she has contributed to projects by Susan Marshall & Company, Raja Feather Kelly, and David Dorfman Dance, among others. Additionally, she brings 20+ years of arts pedagogy and administrative experience to facilitate audience education and engagement at Lumberyard.

Melanie has an extensive teaching history including positions with The Roeper School for the Gifted and Talented, the Washington School of Ballet, and as Assistant Professor of Dance and Dance Education Program Coordinator at Kent State University. From 2008-2016, she directed the dance program at American University, specializing in jazz, movement analysis, dance composition, musical theatre dance. During her time at American University, she increased program enrollment by 200% annually, founded the American University Dance Company, created the Dr. Naima Prevots Guest Artist Fund, and facilitated partnerships with DC-based embassies and arts organizations leading to 20+ guest artist residencies and master classes with nationally and internationally recognized artists.

Melanie has presented her research on jazz dance improvisation/pedagogy throughout the U.S., Canada and Scotland. Publications include “Jazz Dance, Pop Culture, and the Music Video Era” for Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches (University Press of Florida) and “Imbed/In Bed: Two Perspectives on Dance and Collaboration” with Joan Meggitt for Working Together in Qualitative Research (Sense Publishers).              

Her choreography spans concert dance, theatre, and vocal staging. Choreography commissions include works for universities in ID, MI, MD, NC, OH, PA, and RI, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (2016 Helen Hayes Award Nominee for Outstanding Choreography), and the Gaylord National Christmas on the Potomac Launch Event. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Jazz Is… Dance Project.

Melanie has served on the boards of the National Dance Education Organization and Dance Metro DC, and committees for the National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, the Society of Dance History Scholars, VelocityDC Dance Festival, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Ohio Board of Regents. 

Melanie is the 2017 recipient of the Western Michigan University Department of Dance Distinguished Alumni Award.