Melissa Strong (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based writer and professor who studied dance for more than 10 years. She shares dance critic/historian Lynne Garafola’s belief that dance is “a conversation… between the spectator and the artist,” and that critics help mediate this conversation. A scholar of American literature and culture, Melissa is the author of American Lit Remixed: Music in Twenty-First-Century American Literature (Lexington Books, 2021). She writes about the arts for Broad Street Review and about film for Moviejawn. An English professor at Community College of Philadelphia, Melissa has a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Davis. Learn more on her website.
By this Author
The Pennsylvania Ballet presents ‘Beauty’
A spring dance sampler
Pennsylvania Ballet offers elegance, emotion, and synchrony in world premieres by Russell Ducker, Meredith Rainey, and Juliano Nunes choreographed to the music of Jennifer Higdon. Melissa Strong reviews.
The Annenberg Center presents Rennie Harris Puremovement
An embodied history for our times
Rennie Harris Puremovement offers embodied history for our times in a livestreamed performance from the Annenberg. Melissa Strong reviews.
The Philadelphia Orchestra and Brian Sanders’ JUNK present ‘A Modern-Day Carmen Fantasy’
Masking modern moves
‘A Modern-Day Carmen Fantasy’ reunites the Philadelphia Orchestra with Brian Sanders’ JUNK for an innovative concert with movement for home viewers. Melissa Strong reviews.
StanfordLive presents ‘Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce… Pandemic!’
Reality, divinity, nativity
2020 Ibsen Award-winner Taylor Mac celebrates the dysfunction of the holidays in ‘Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!,’ a vaudeville performance now available to stream at home. Melissa Strong reviews.
What happened to ‘Nutcracker’ in the year of COVID?
Why should we tune in to ‘The Nutcracker’ in 2020?
What is the state of ‘The Nutcracker’—beloved holiday tradition and the dance-company equivalent of retail’s Black Friday—in 2020? Melissa Strong considers.
The Annenberg Center presents Boaz Yakin’s ‘Aviva’
Love plus four
Sex, gender, and dance collide in ‘Aviva,’ a film about love and identity written and directed by Boaz Yakin, with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith, formerly of Batsheva Dance Company. Melissa Strong reviews.
Pam Tanowitz Dance livestreams a world premiere in Philadelphia
Taking back the Zellerbach
Pam Tanowitz Dance’s Philadelphia premiere combines elegance with immediacy in a virtual performance. Melissa Strong reviews.
Philly Fringe 2020: Tangle Movement Arts presents ‘The Way Out’
The limbo of life
A performance made for pandemic, ‘The Way Out’ took audiences on a drive-in journey through music, movement, theater, and glassblowing at Laurel Hill Cemetery. Melissa Strong reviews.
Philly Fringe 2020: Artist House/Asya Zlatina + Dancers and stb x at
Dancing into the future
Two performances explore dance during pandemic for the 2020 Fringe Festival. Artist House/Asya Zlatina + Dancers and stb x at offer different experiences combining movement, technology, and collaboration in innovative ways. Melissa Strong reviews.
Philly Fringe 2020: Apartment 20 presents ‘Lilith and Her Demons’
Lilith, the concept album
Apartment 20 adapts Enid Dame’s collection of poems ‘Lilith and Her Demons’ into a song cycle for the 2020 Fringe Festival, exploring how and where we see the Lilith of Jewish folklore today. Melissa Strong reviews.
When the pandemic hit, what was your beloved community?
The city is my home
What might Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for beloved community look like in pandemic-era Philadelphia? Melissa Strong considers.
A 1944 recording of Martha Graham’s ‘Appalachian Spring’ is streaming for free
Modern dance, then and now
Best known as a work for orchestra by American composer Aaron Copland, 'Appalachian Spring' originated as a ballet of the same name. A 1944 recording of this Martha Graham Dance Company performance is now streaming for free, and Melissa Strong says it’s worth revisiting.
Works & Process Artists Virtual Commission Series presents ‘Storm’
Dancing when the days keep coming
‘Storm,’ a performance of the Works & Process Artists Virtual Commission Series, packs emotional punch into a short solo dance now streaming free on YouTube. Melissa Strong reviews.
National Theatre Live presents a free stream of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’
Taking Thornfield home
National Theatre Live delivers a fresh production of Jane Eyre as bold as the heroine of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, streaming free on YouTube through April 16, 2020. Melissa Strong reviews.
One dance critic answers the eternal question: Are you a dancer?
So you think you can write about dance?
Does a dance critic need to be a dancer? Dance writer Melissa Strong has spent years answering that question for herself.