Melissa Cruz is a Bay Area-based flamenco professional and has been a full-time flamenco artist and instructor for the past 12 years. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she came to the Bay Area to pursue a law career. After being exposed to flamenco while studying Spanish at UC Berkeley, she began dancing with Rosa Montoya and soon thereafter, joined Ms. Montoya's professional company. Since then, she has built a career dancing, mentoring new dancers and choreographing flamenco across the United States.
Garnering years of experience as a company dancer and soloist, she presented her own production in 2007, La Vida Flamenca, in both San Francisco and Houston, Texas. She regularly performs in the local flamenco cabaret circuit, allowing her to develop renown improvisation and responsiveness skills. A versatile artist growing up studying piano, guitar and drums has made her a much sought-after guest performer in many musical projects, including local groups the Alex Conde Quartet, Alta California, LaRuya, and LoCura. She can often be seen performing at the most prestigious theaters, including the San Francisco Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as at smaller venues like Yoshi's Jazz Club and the Elbo Room. Recently, she served as Adjunct Dance Faculty at The University of San Francisco, as a guest instructor at the world dance youth program, Danceversity, and is currently, regularly presenting her apprentice dance group.
Melissa performed as a soloist in the 2012 San Francisco International Arts Festival and has presented in seven San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festivals; in 2010 and 2011, as a featured soloist. She was commissioned to present a solo representing the genre of flamenco in the 2013 San Francisco Isadora Duncan Awards Ceremony and was a featured artist in the 2014 Caminos Flamencos Festival de Flamenco performing alongside Spanish lumiaries, Juañares and David Paniagua. She was a featured artist in the 2014 Tucson Flamenco Festival. As described by Rachel Howard of the SF Chronicle: "Any dancer could make pained faces. But Cruz is clearly possessed by the duende -- the spirit that drives this deeply introspective art."