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IN MEMORIAM: 1927-2021

Melba Huber

Melba Huber was founder and president of Melba’s Inc, a world-class dance studio in McAllen, Texas that houses seven dance studios and a retail dancewear store. Melba’s opened in 1958. Melba was the founder of McAllen Dance Theatre that performs every February and in many local events.

Melba was the first person outside of New York to receive the prestigious Flo Bert Award at Lincoln Center. She has been honored by Oklahoma City University on two occasions and in October of 2011 presented a three-day workshop for the dance department.  OCU is considered to have the best dance training in the world. The Texas Senate recognized Melba in 1997 and presented her the Texas state flag. In l998, she was presented the Savion Glover Award at the St. Louis Tap Festival and in 2006 Savion honored Melba at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Other honors are from Tradition In Tap, Dallas Arts Council, Detroit Festival, Plaudit Award, and Who’s Who in the World, America, American Women and Education.

Melba was often introduced in New York as “the most published writer of tap in the world.”  For twenty years she wrote a tap column for two major dance magazines.  Her columns are available for reading at MelbasDance.com. She served as president of The Texas Association Teachers of Dancing and board member of Dance Masters of America. She introduced the first competitive gymnastics in south Texas.

Melba’s former students are everywhere in various forms of dance, gymnastics, exercise, ballroom and performing on Broadway. Melba conducts panels on tap history every year in New York and St. Louis. Melba is a conservator of American dance in the truest sense of the word. Her legacy lives on in all whose lives she touched.

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DIRECTOR

Audrey Bready

Beginning at the age of 12, Audrey Bready knew that he wanted to dance for the rest of her life. Her dance journey has taken her to Colorado, Michigan, Washington state and Moscow, Russia. The summer international gatherings at the Vail Dance Festival provided young Audrey with inspiration and instruction on multiple occasions. 

When Audrey was 15 years old, her parents sent her to Michigan to study ballet where she successfully auditioned for enrollment in the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the nation’s premier residential boarding school for high school artists. 

After graduating from Interlochen, Audrey auditioned for enrollment into the dance program of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. In her senior year, Audrey studied ballet under Thomas Clower, who set Balanchine’s “Valse Fantasie” for the national Balanchine Centennial. Clower chose Audrey as one of six students to perform in that piece. She graduated Cum Laude, having earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in performance and education. 

Between the two schools, Audrey has seven years of academic training in ballet. After graduating from Cornish, she traveled to Moscow, Russia, where she acquired a certification from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography in ballet.

For six quarters, Audrey continued her studies in the online Arts Administration Graduate Program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With only two quarters left until graduation, she and her husband, Jason, turned their attentions to starting a family. They now have three wonderful children. 

Audrey ran her own dance school in Mission, Texas for seven years. In January 2024, she began the transition of closing down her own school to take on the directorship here at Melba’s Dance. We are thrilled to welcome her into the Melba’s family!
 

MELBA'S DANCE STAFF

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Lauren Flores

Lauren Flores has taught dance at Melba’s since 2013. Her specialties are hip-hop, jazz, lyrical and musical theatre. She serves as the head teacher and choreographer for all developmental and advanced hip-hop as well as Melba’s Junior 1 Jazz Company. In addition, she’s a teacher for our competition teams, serving as choreographer for group and soloist pieces. Raised in McAllen, she started training at the age of 14, accomplishing much as a competitive dancer. After graduating high school, she traveled to NYC to train at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy for musical theatre. Lauren is certified in jazz through the Texas Association Teachers of Dancing. 

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Susan Tristan 

Susan Tristan has served on the staff of Melba’s Dance since 2015 and is the director for the developmental ballet programs. Susan is also the instructor and choreographer for Junior Company and Senior Company Ballet. She graduated with degrees in Dance Performance and Communications and danced at the collegiate level for flamenco, ballet and folklorico. Susan is certified in ballet through the Texas Association Teachers of Dancing.

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MARGARET LEAL

Margaret Leal is an alumna of Melba’s Dance, having grown up as a Melba’s Girl for 15 years. During her senior year at Melba’s, she was a recipient of the Louise Longoria Scholarship, and was a principal dancer in the ballet Paquita. Margaret graduated as valedictorian of the inaugural class of 2015 at Juan Diego Academy. In 2019, Margaret graduated from Southwestern University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Music. Margaret has been a member of the Melba’s Dance faculty since 2019 and has served as a head teacher since 2020. She has enjoyed every minute of teaching and hopes to continue to share her passion for dance with her students.

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VERONICA LEAL

Veronica Leal has been a faculty member at Melba’s Dance since 2017. Before this, she danced as a student at Melba’s for more than a decade. During her senior year, she danced the lead role in the Melba’s Dance production of Swan Lake as Odette. She specializes in jazz, lyrical and ballet. Veronica is an advanced choreographer for McAllen Dance Theater’s Senior Company. She is also a lyrical and jazz choreographer for Melba’s Dance competition teams. Veronica is a graduate of UTRGV with a B.A. in Dance and a certification in teaching. She completed her undergraduate degree with honors in 2021. She looks forward to continuing her love of dance through teaching and is excited for future endeavors in this field.

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CASSIE FEMAT

Cassandra “Cassie” Femat has been on the Melba’s Dance faculty since 2019. She currently teaches preschool ballet, jazz and hip-hop at Melba’s Dance as well as different styles in the developmental age groups. Cassie also serves as a choreographer for Melba’s Dance competition teams. Outside of Melba’s, she choreographs musicals for high schools and was nominated for best choreographer at the Palm Awards. When not dancing or teaching choreography, Cassie works for South Texas Health System.

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ANUSHI PARIKH

Anushi Parikh was professionally trained in Bharatanatyam by Sri. Padmini Ramachandran and Kathak by Sri. Padrna Khanna. She has been performing for the past 35 years and instructing for 26 years. She has been teaching at Melba’s for six years. Her passion for dance, affection towards kids, and love for teaching have been the driving forces behind her commitment to ensuring that each and every student showcases their talent. 

She is a graduate of Drexel University with degrees in Business Marketing and Psychology. Having lived and taught in multiple cities, Anushi has been able to perform with some of Bollywood’s biggest names, including Sonu Nigam, Dino Morea, Sunidhi Chauhan and Anup Jalota. Having moved to the RGV after marriage, Anushi wishes to instill the culture her parents enforced in her early years to the youth in our community through the art of dance. In intertwining the discipline of classical dance with the trends of today’s Bollywood pop culture, she is able to appeal to students of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds
 

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IRAIS RODRIGUEZ

Irais Rodriguez is an instructor and choreographer who has taught younger level tap and jazz classes here at Melba’s Dance since 2017 after growing up as a Melba’s Girl herself. She is one of our competition instructors who focuses on our younger level competitive teams and soloists. She earned a B.S. in Early Care and Early Childhood Education from UTRGV in 2022. She is currently a math teacher and Head Cheer Coach at BL Gray Junior High. She looks forward to continuing her passion for dance at Melba’s Dance.

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GABRIELA RIOS-RODRIGUEZ

Gabriela Rios-Rodriguez has served as an instructor and choreographer for Melba’s Dance since 2019, having taught flamenco, belly dance and preschool hip-hop. She also teachers Mommy & Me classes to the very smallest of our dancers. Gabriela is a national award-winning professional belly dancer with 21 years of teaching experience. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design, a minor in Dance, an MFA in Photography and she’s a TEA K-12 art teacher. Gabriela owns and directs a kids entertainment business named “Show Enchanted.” She enjoys teaching and inspiring kids, and she’s proud to be part of the Melba’s Dance team.

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SAYLOR DONNELLY

Saylor Donnelly has been a Melba’s Girl nearly all her life, and a member of our teaching staff since 2021. She currently teaches adult ballet and junior company ballet classes at Melba’s Dance. She is trained in all styles of dance and served as the principal dancer in ballets such as Paquita and Stars and Stripes. In addition to her teaching classes, Saylor serves as an assistant in a variety of dance styles with students of all ages. She is currently studying biological science at UTRGV with hopes to attend pharmacy school upon graduation.

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carmen medina solis

Carmen Medina Solis serves as an artist in residence with Melba's Dance and has been a part of the Melba's Dance faculty since 2010. Carmen specializes in ballet and trained under masters such as Nikita Talkin, Eric Gibson and Miriam Gonzalez. During her dance performance career, Carmen performed principal roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Vivandiere and Paquita. Carmen currently practices medicine as a Physician's Assistant at Valley Medical Arts Clinic and also serves as a PA program preceptor for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

MELBA'S SUPPORT STAFF

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