Meet Our Founding Artistic Director


A proud Buffalo, NY native, Marisa f. Ballaro is a curious learner and an avid community builder. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Montclair State University in June of 2022 and was selected as Convocation Speaker for the College of the Arts. With dual degrees in Dance and Interdisciplinary Arts for Children, she is a summa cum laude graduate of SUNY College at Brockport where she received prestigious honors including the Marion Schrank Student Leadership Award and the Outstanding Scholar in the School of Arts & Performance. An energetic resident of New York City, Marisa is on dance faculty at The Brearley School in Manhattan and has taught on faculty at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) School of Modern Dance for over a decade. Working as a master coach with the American Dance Legacy Initiative (ADLI), she learned repertory works from America’s modern dance masters while developing teaching methodology to stage the works. She performed for many years with ADLI’s repertory ensemble, Dancing Legacy.

Passionate about service, Marisa is Vice President for the Board of Directors for the SUNY Brockport Alumni Association and she is the Endurance Chair for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Tomorrow's Leaders Greater New York Chapter. She was recognized as an Outstanding Educator by The University of Chicago in October 2019 and is the recipient of two honors awarded by The Brearley School: The Margaret Riker Harding Lower School Fellowship and The Serena Marshall Weld Award. She was invited to attend a week-long teacher training workshop in Barcelona, Spain in April of 2022 becoming a certified practitioner of Level 1: Simonson Teacher Training.

Marisa is Founding Artistic Director of NYC-based Ballaro Dance: an organization committed to building community through the creation and presentation of modern dance while inviting its audience, often first-time dance viewers, to SEE, MOVE, & SHARE with the Company in an approachable, welcoming environment. Adhering to its mission, the Company takes pride in skillfully connecting with various communities inviting them to SEE dance in formal and informal settings, to MOVE while participating in the art, and to SHARE while gathering for conversation enabling deep connections. Founded in 2014, Ballaro Dance is proud to call New York City its home presenting almost a decade of transformative dance projects and meaningful community events. A community builder interested in connecting with both local and global networks, Marisa believes in the power of digital dance to achieve bridging distance, witnessed especially throughout the pandemic. She is passionate about bringing people together through dance and was recognized with a $2,500 grant from the Tucker Family Foundation in 2021 to focus on continuing to cultivate a treasured community for dancers, non-dancers, collaborators, and audience members. She received a $9,575 Impact Grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to lead a nationwide virtual project in 2024. 

We choreograph to tell stories; We dance to engage with people; We produce art to build community. 

Our Mission:

Ballaro Dance values community and collaboration at its core. Through ongoing opportunities to SEE, MOVE, & SHARE together in and through dance, the Company takes pride in cultivating an approachable, welcoming environment. Through each project and collaboration, Ballaro Dance continues to redefine how to effectively share dance through unique sensory-based experiences while inviting audience members to act as participants, generating a longer-lasting impact on community.

Our Identity:

We dance to engage with people; we choreograph to tell stories; we produce art to build community.