Melissa Hudson Bell is a choreographer, teacher, performer, and scholar based in Berkeley, California. 

I’ve found that seeing the world through a choreographic lens - in other words, being attentive to the how and the why and when and the who of bodies moving in space and time - allows for a special kind of reveling in the world exactly as it is, and a simultaneous reimagining of things as they ‘generally’ are.
I see taking the time to revel and reimagine through dance as radical action that really matters in the 21st century. Dancing spaces can provide opportunities to sense and perceive, strategize and react, remember and dream, all in the presence of other humans engaged in doing the same. 

These convictions have led me to devote my creative work, my teaching, and my research to investigating how dance, and San Francisco bay area contemporary dance in particular, participates in critical dialogue that informs how we figure ourselves in relationship to our surroundings.

Analyzing these spaces, both as they are currently unfolding and as they have historically happened, allows for productive critique of the ways different dance spaces honor certain types of bodies-in-motion while excluding or vilifying others. 

Of greatest interest to me are those instances when food enters the scene. I investigate how using food as a frame influences how we experience dance and vice versa. 

  • My dissertation project, Audience Engagement in San Francisco's Contemporary Dance Scene: Forging Connections Through Food, examines how various bay area choreographers and dance programmers couple food and dance to revivify concert dance spectatorship. I have begun work on a book project that extends this research, specifically as it links to a national movement towards examining “audience engagement” for dance. 
  • My Gutsy Series is embodied research in the form of salon-style dance showcases that I develop in collaboration with local chefs and other choreographers. At a Gutsy Series event, guests are invited to share in food designed to frame the dance presentations. Choreographers and chefs speak about the process and the intentions shaping their contributions, and guests are encouraged to meet and mingle rather than passively observe.
  • My teaching emphasizes exploring chosen topics via movement, writing, and dialogue. Students are asked to move and think through the ways dance relates to topics like labor, power, civic action, racism, nationalism, and more - to see choreography and performance at play in the acts of daily living.

Ultimately, I am interested in dance as an art form, field of critical inquiry and agent for social change. Dance events that are experimental, accessible, and collaborative. Choreography that is born of and that stimulates curiosity. Movement as a means of shaping and reshaping our world.

Curriculum Vitae

Melissa Hudson Bell, MFA, PhD


AREAS OF INTEREST: critical dance and performance studies, American studies, food studies

2014     PhD, Critical Dance Studies, University of California, Riverside
2009    MFA, Experimental Choreography, University of California, Riverside
2007     Pilates Teacher Training Certification, Synergy Fitness
2001     BA, Theatre Arts, Dance Emphasis, Santa Clara University

2016    Lecturer, Writing For Performance; UC Berkeley
    Adjunct Lecturer, Modern Dance I; Santa Clara University
    Professional Mentor, MFA in Performance Making, CIIS
2012    Adjunct Lecturer, Modern Dance II; Santa Clara University
2010-2011    Adjunct Lecturer, Modern Dance I; Santa Clara University
    Introduction to Dance (2 sections); UC Riverside Dance Dept
2009-2010    Introduction to Dance (2 sections); UCRiverside Dance Dept
2008-2009    Introduction to Dance (6 sections); UC Riverside Dance Dept
2007-2008    Introduction to Dance (4 sections); UC Riverside Dance Dept    

2016    “How Matters: On Methods, Movement and Theory-Practice Experiments,” Presentation, Dance Studies Working Group, UC Berkeley
2014    “Audience Engagement in San Francisco’s Contemporary Dance Scene: Forging Connections Through Food,” dissertation project in partial fulfillment of PhD, under the advisement of Prof Jacqueline Shea Murphy
    “Breaking Bread, Making Dance,” Lecture/Demonstration, Visiting Artist, Queens College
2013    “Slow Dancing: a choreography of audience engagement at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts” Paper Presentation, Dance Under Construction (DUC)/Congress On Research in Dance (CORD) Conference
2012    “Breaking Bread, Making Dance: the food-oriented performance events of Amara Tabor-Smith’s Deep Waters Dance Theatre,” Paper Presentation, CORD Conference
2011    “Food and Dance: a discussion,” co-curator of Dance Discourse Project #11 at CounterPULSE in SF
2010    “What’s Cooking?: Hibachi Grilling Choreography and the Performance of Consumerism,” Paper Presentation, DUC Conference
2009    “Dear Betty: Betty Crocker and the De/construction of Female Domestic Identity,” DUC Conference

2013    Nominated Participant in Pilot Program for Humanities Dissertation Writing Retreat, UC Riverside
2011-2012    Gluck Program for the Arts Fellow: “MoveMore” (workshops with elementary school children)
2010-2011    Zellerbach Family Foundation Community Arts Grant Recipient
    Gluck Program for the Arts Fellow: “MoveMore” (workshops with elementary school children)    
2009-2010    Gluck Program for the Arts Fellow: “Dancing Daily Life” (workshops at Camino Real grade school, Kinder and 1st grade, Riverside, CA)
2008-09     Master’s Thesis Research Grant recipient
    Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship recipient
    Gluck Program for the Arts Fellow: "Practicing Presence" workshop at Jefferson Transitional Program with recovering adults. 
2007-2008     Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship recipient
    Gluck Program for the Arts Fellow: “Introduction to Modern Dance” (workshops at Gluck Summer Camp for the Arts, ages 14-19);“Site Specific Performance Workshop,” (workshops at Ramona High School, Riverside, CA)

2005-present     Choreographer, BreadnButter Dance Company. Performances at:
        Bodies Between (Tallahassee, FL) June 2016
        The Gutsy Series: One Bite (Berkeley, CA) March 2016
        Dance Lovers (SF, CA) February 2016
        Field Studies (New York, NY) May 2014
        The Gutsy Series: Brunch, (Oakland, CA) Dec 2010
        2nd Sundays, CounterPULSE (SF, CA) Nov 2010
        Artist-In-Residence Showcase, The Garage (SF, CA) Sept 2010
        Canvas Underground: Porchetta (Oakland, CA) July 2010
        Makeup Mutiny #2 (San Francisco, CA) Mar 2010
        Bold Moves: Graduate Student Concert, UCR, Feb 2010
        CounterPULSE (evening-length work) June 2009
        Anatomy Riot #32 (Los Angeles, CA) June 2009
        Riverside Art Museum, MFA Showcase, May 2009
        MFA Thesis Concert, UCR, April 2009
        DecaDance: Graduate Student Concert, UCR, Jan 2009
        Words First Showcase, CounterPULSE, SF, Sept 2008
        Free Food: Graduate Student Concert, UCR, Feb 2008
        Riverside Arts Walk, Oct 2007
        Ghetto Gourmet, CounterPULSE, SF, Feb-July 2007
        Shotwell Studios, SF, Dec 2006
        Living Room Series, CounterPULSE, SF, April 2006
        CounterPULSE (evening-length premiere) Feb 2006
        Underserved II: Pop, ODC Theater, Jan 2006
        Raw and Uncut Showcase, SF, Nov 2005
        San Jose State University Prof Series, Sept 2005
2010    Artist-in-Residence, The Garage, San Francisco
    Guest Artist, Erica Shuch Performance Project, Feb, (SF)
2009    Guest Artist, Hannah Schwadron (choreographer, Riverside)
2008    Guest Artist, Erica Shuch Performance Project, Sept, (SF)
    Guest Artist, Hannah Schwadron (choreographer, Riverside)
2007    Artist-in-Residence, Red Ink Studios, San Francisco
    Guest Artist, RAW Dance, June 2007 (SF)
    Guest Artist, Janice Garrett and Dancers, March 2007 (SF)
2006    Company Member, Ahdanco Dance Company (SF)
    Artist-in-Residence, Shotwell Studios San Francisco
    Guest Artist, Silke Z.: resistdance (SF and Germany)
2005     Company Member, Ahdanco Dance Company (SF)
    Guest Artist, Janice Garrett and Dancers, Dec 2005 (SF)
2004    Guest Artist, Huckabay McAllister Dance Company (SF) 

2016    SDHS/CORD Joint Conference, attendee
2014    Association for the Study of Food and Society, panel presentation on performance and food pedagogy
2013    SDHS/CORD Joint Conference, attendee
2010    Food and Body Working Group Retreat
2009    Project Bandaloop, Aerial Dance Workshop
2008     LEVY Dance, Presence in Dance Workshop
2006    Janice Garrett and Dancers, Repertory Workshop
    Flyaway Productions/Jo Kreiter, Flying with Objects Workshop
2005    Joe Goode Performance Group, Choreography Workshop

2006-2014    Dancers’ Group – fiscal sponsor for BreadandButter
2008-present    California Dance Network - member
2009-present    Slow Food Nation - member
    Society of Dance History Scholars - member
    Bay Area Emerging Artists Network - member
2010-2014    Food and Body Working Group, UC Davis - member
2012-present    Congress on Research in Dance - member
2014     Association for the Study of Food and Society - member

2010-2012    Certified Pilates Instructor, CORE Pilates on 17th, SF
2010    Artist-in-Residence, SFArtsEd, Commodore Sloat School, SF
    Stage Manager, “Bananaritis,” CounterPULSE, SF SF
2009    Authorized Company Representative, NYC International Fringe Festival (The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour)
2007-2009    Certified Pilates Instructor, UC Riverside Recreation Dept
    Certified Pilates Instructor, Sixth Street Pilates (Riverside,CA)
2006-2007    Certified Pilates Instructor, Synergy Fitness Pilates (Albany,CA)
    Office Manager, Zaccho Dance Company (San Francisco, CA)
2003-2006    Office Manager, Educational Consultant, Lindamood-Bell Learning
2004    Dance Instructor, Golden Gate Fitness (hip-hop and stretch, adults)
    Dance Instructor, Happy Feet Dance (creative movement, children)
2003    Physical Therapy Aide, Physical Therapy Innovations (Albany, CA)
    Office Assistant, InterPlay (Oakland, CA)
2002    Good Vibes Prevention Theatre, Affiliate Program Director (Chicago)