Synopsis: A sole male dancer wanders a park, dismayed by the current circumstances affecting the entire world. He sits and notices the perfect stage sitting before him, a place that has been off limits since the pandemic hit. He approaches the stage, removes his mask, and takes a deep breath as he transports himself to a better time, a freer time. His moment sets off a chain reaction inspiring other dancers to join him for a momentary sense of freedom and connection.
Stephanie Kim (Dancer)
Chasen Greenwood (Dancer)
Lucia Connolly (Dancer)
Jessica Gadzinski (Dancer)
Breathe In is a film made at the start of the pandemic, when dancers truly had nowhere to perform, rehearse, or even take class. The life they knew and dedicated themselves towards had come to an abrupt halt with no end in sight. Breathe In highlights the longing every dancer had inside them at the time, and how one person’s willingness to dance anywhere moved others to join him.
Melissa Barak is a choreographer and former professional dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB) and Los Angeles Ballet. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Barak began her ballet training at the age of eight at Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica, CA under the direction of Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire. Her training continued in New York City at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of NYCB. In 1998, Barak was invited to join NYCB where she performed in numerous works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as originating roles in new ballets by Christopher Wheeldon, Elliot Feld, and Robert Garland among others.
Barak began exploring her choreographic talents throughout her time at SAB and NYCB. At the age of 21, she premiered her work Telemann Overture Suite in E Minor at the SAB June Workshop performance that quickly followed up with encore performances on NYCB the following season. Later that year another choreographic commission was offered by NYCB for their prestigious Diamond Project making her at the time the youngest choreographer to create an original work on the company. She has created new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Richmond Ballet, Dayton Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, and Barak Ballet, a Los Angeles based contemporary ballet company she founded in 2013. She has had the honor of choreographing on dance luminaries including Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Benjamin Millepied, and Robert Fairchild. In 2009 and 2010, she was invited to return to the New York City Ballet where she created two more works, A Simple Symphony and Call Me Ben respectively. Her film and commercial credits include original choreography for Mattel’s feature film Barbie in the Pink Shoes, Xayron in Hungary, Illusions in China, and a Samsung commercial working alongside director Mark Romanek. Melissa has been awarded the Mae L. Wein and Choo San Goh awards for Outstanding Choreography and has been named a Dance Magazine “Top 25 to Watch”. She was also the inaugural recipient of the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choreographers through Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU.
She currently puts all her focus now into building Barak Ballet, now in its 8th year. The company’s main mission is the focus on new works, collaborating with artists of all mediums, and continuously commissioning ground-breaking dance makers in order to keep the ballet art form relevant and fresh. Barak Ballet has been presented by The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Broad Stage, The Joyce Theater, and Jacob’s Pillow.
New York International Film Awards - United States - 2020
Best Choreography (Melissa Barak)
International Fine Arts Film Festival - United States - 2021
Inspired Dance - Australia - 2020
Los Angeles Dance Shorts Film Festival - United States - 2020
Los Angeles-based contemporary ballet choreographer Melissa Barak unleashed her creative energy for “Breathe In,” a short dance film that arrived in my inbox like a breath of fresh air earlier this summer. Barak’s buoyant mini ballet, which weaves through the geometrical architecture of Pan Pacific Park, follows an ensemble of sneaker-clad ballerinas and danseurs as they frolic through the urban space to a score by David Lawrence filled with the sounds of rushing strings and pulsing woodwinds. - Christina Campodonico, KCET
“Breathe In” with choreography and direction by Melissa Barak of Barak Ballet is a beautiful timely piece and is the highlight of this Festival (LA Dance Shorts Film Festival). - Tam Warner, LA Dance Chronicle