Film & Video Projects
Melissa Mansfield is a writer, producer and on-camera host who explores the world through her greatest passion: dance.
Exploring the transformative impact of dance through cultural immersion
Melissa's most recent documentary project,
To the Heart of Dance in Cuba, explores dance as integral to Cuban culture, spirituality and family life.
Through her own immersion as a dance student at Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba and through interviews with dance experts of all generations, Melissa delves into Cuban dance as a locus for daily religious practice, the preservation of cultural traditions, and the evolution of a powerful art form.
This 4-part episodic series was co-produced with forte.nyc and filmed pre-pandemic in 2019, released online in 2020.
To the Heart of Dance in Cuba
The Follow My Lead Series
In her first two seasons of Follow My Lead (2017-2018), Melissa takes the viewers on a personal journey of immersion in the iconic dance styles of Havana and Buenos Aires.
Both seasons feature episodes exploring the emotional ups and downs of the learning process, the unique aspects of the social dancing scenes, and the challenge of performing live with professional dancers.
Melissa's personal reflections as well as interviews with professional dancers and instructors bring to life the joyful, sensual and exhilarating experience of the dancer in these iconic cities.
If you've ever dreamed of traveling the world through dance, this series will make you feel like you're at the hottest salsa spots of Havana and the most intimate milongas of Buenos Aires.
Projects in development for 2021-2022 include further exploring the role of dance in Cuban culture by expanding on the stories of the featured dancers in To the Heart of Dance in Cuba and in Follow My Lead: Havana.
How have dancers at Conjunto Folklórico in Havana continued to preserve and evolve the traditional folkloric dances during a monthslong shutdown?
How has Obini Bata, the all-female group already resisting patriarchal norms, survived a year without performances?
How has La Casa del Son pivoted to online classes and festivals in the midst of an almost complete halt to tourism, their main source of income?
And more than anything, how is Cuban dance and music persisting as an integral part of the island's cultural legacy?
Film & photography credit for To the Heart of Dance in Cuba footage and images on this page: Matthew Heymann and James Rosser Berry of Forte.nyc