Ballet Hispánico uses the power of dance to showcase equality and respect for minorities

NEW YORK, New York (WABC) -- Melissa Fernandez is one of the lead company dancers in Ballet Hispánico.

Ballet Hispánico was founded by Tina Ramirez in 1970. From its grassroots origins as a dance school and community-based performing arts troupe, the organization has grown into a world-class institution.

Ballet Hispánico's New York City headquarters house a School of Dance and state-of-the-art dance studios for its programs and the arts community.

Melissa Fernandez is originally from Miami, Florida, and received her early dance training from Caridad Espinosa, Mencia-Pikieris School of Dance and New World School of the Arts, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2008.

In 2012, Fernandez went on to earn her BFA in dance from The Juilliard School, where she performed works by Sidra Bell, Alex Ekman, Nacho Duato, and Jerome Robbins, among others.

Fernandez was selected as a modern dance finalist in The National YoungArts Foundation competition in 2008, and was featured in the HBO series Master Class.

In 2016, Fernandez had the joy of being presented beside her Ballet Hispánico colleagues in Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance Series, where she performed lead roles in works by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano and Pedro Ruiz.

Currently, Fernandez is in her seventh season with Ballet Hispánico and is excitedly looking forward to marrying her partner on stage and off, Lyvan Verdecia, in the summer of 2019.

To hear more amazing stories of community leaders in our area, join ABC7 in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

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Lauren Glassberg reports on Ballet Hispánico on the Upper West Side.

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