Melody Herrera

April 24, 2011

Houston Ballet principal Melody Herrera has been described as “the Audrey Hepburn of ballerinas.” It’s not hard to see the physical resemblance—the delicate frame, the porcelain skin—but Herrera also shares the actress’s dramatic intelligence and beguiling vulnerability. Melody lives up to her own name, too: Her fine-tuned musicality illuminates both the steps and the score, whether she’s playing Marie Antoinette in Stanton Welch’s Marie or dancing Jirí Kylián’s contemporary ballet Petite Mort.

Born in Santa Cruz, CA, Herrera began her training at Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. At 13, she started attending summer programs at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, which led to a year with Houston Ballet II when she was 17. In 2001, she joined the main company, and in 2008 she was made a principal. Today, Herrera plays one of her most important roles offstage: Mom to 6-year-old son Isaac.  —Margaret Fuhrer

Dear Melody,

I want to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained by making many mistakes and a few good choices.

Start setting goals for yourself now—goals with time frames. They’ll help you maintain your focus each day in the studio. Realize that these goals need to be challenging enough to push you, but not so challenging that they become discouraging.

Moments of disappointment will make you doubt yourself, but learning to persevere in the face of misfortune is one of life’s most valuable lessons.

Go out with friends and have fun—in moderation. This is the time to learn how to take care of your body, just as a musician keeps his instrument in good condition. The better you treat yourself now, the longer your instrument will play beautiful music.

Watch and learn. You’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by talented dancers. Be a sponge, and absorb not only the corrections given to you, but also the ones given to others.

Be brave. Don’t let your flaws make you timid. Draw strength from what you believe, and from all the people who love and support you. You are not alone.

Melody Herrera