Born at Belfast, Melissa trained at the Jennifer Bullick School of Ballet in Lisburn.
Here is a two-minute clip of Melissa giving a short interview.
Aged 16, she joined Elmhurst School For Dance, where she was taught by Masha Mukhamedov who, after she left the school, trained her privately.
She won the Youth America Grand Prix in 2007.
Melissa won the 2009 Critics Circle ‘Most Outstanding Female Performance’ Award and was nominated for the Times Breakthrough Award at the South Bank Show Awards.
In 2009, she was ranked by The Sunday Times as one of the ‘Top 30 Power Players under 30’.
She has been described as British ballet's brightest hope.
Melissa, who comes from Dromore, County Down, admits her rise to the top was not a "straight line":
"I left home at 16 and trained in England for two years and then gave up school in Birmingham and moved and trained privately with a teacher in Athens for 10 months and then I joined the Royal Ballet Company," she said.Meeting her teacher Masha Mukhamedov was the tipping point:
"Previous to that I kept being told I would never make it," she said. "That is why I left my school in Birmingham because some people don't have an eye, some people are unable to look at something in front of them and see the potential.
It was whenever I met my teacher, she literally saw me for two seconds and said that she's a ballerina and she completely took me under her wing and I'm a product of her."The life and hours of a ballerina are relentless:
"You sell your soul to your vocation. I call it a vocation, it is not a job, it's a complete lifestyle," she said. It is incredibly hard. Our hours are incredible, I mean we start our days at half past nine, if we have a show we don't finish until half past ten, we're not home until after 11 and then we're straight in the next day to do the same thing.
We rehearse all throughout the day. We finish rehearsals at half past five and then start into getting ready for our performance at half past seven."First published in December, 2011.