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Dance Dance Revolution
Keywords: Mind and Body

She's freshly promoted as The Boston Ballet's first soloist. And her choreography rocks the house. But if her former ballet masters had their way, Melissa Hough would be nowhere near the Citi Wang Theatre stage.

You don't have the right body, her teachers at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington told her. Your feet aren't a good shape. Try modern dance. Not ballet. Nuts to you, the sassy 13-year-old thought. Melissa didn't leave her family in Maryland to live at dance school only to be told no. She was twirling and jumping to hear encore!

Hough's parents, both musicians in the Army Field Band, knew better, too. Their fiery red-haired tot leaped across the living room so much that they converted their basement into a dance studio. Melissa's younger sister dropped out of ballet after being choreographed until her head spun after school. Hey, bossy older sisters and pliés aren't for everyone.

But breathtaking jumps and a keen sense of music are -- at least if you're in the audience. Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen spotted her gift at an audition when Hough was just 14. He asked her to join his ballet company, then in Alberta. Melissa said no. She didn't think she was ready. Years later, when their paths crossed again, and jobs were spotty, she begged him to be taken on. Good call, Mikko. Melissa's ascent has been as swift as her spins. Her knack for creating dance reaches far beyond ballet as well - jazz, hip-hop, ballroom, modern. She's even choreographed models at fashion shows that make a Milan catwalk look rinky dink. Throw her a good tune and she'll pull together steps that will have you buying toe shoes.

This year, for Boston Ballet's signature fundraising ball, the committee looked no further than the fourth-floor dance studio at Boston Ballet's headquarters to find their star choreographer. Melissa Hough, just 22 years old, will present a one-night-only, one-time-only, one-audience-only performance set to the evening's James Bond theme this Saturday at the South End's Cyclorama. She hopes her old ballet teachers are coming to the event. Chances are, she'll hear some familiar voices shouting encore!

For tickets to see Melissa's dance at the "For Your Eyes Only" ball, please visit and click on the ball link. You can call 617-456-6242.

Roll over Melissa's picture to learn more.

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