Melissa Pope

Owner of Alternative Fitness Pilates


Bachelor of Creative Arts in Dance Education, UNC Charlotte (1980)
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, UNC Charlotte (1980)

Hometown: Charlotte

As the founder and owner of Alternative Fitness Pilates - Charlotte's oldest Pilates studio - for more than two decades, Melissa Pope is highly regarded in the Charlotte community as a Pilates teacher, business owner, dance advocate, and community activist. Throughout her career she has contributed to higher education in dance in the Charlotte region, working with students at Central Piedmont Community College, Queens University of Charlotte, Winthrop University, and her alma mater.

It was at UNC Charlotte that Melissa laid the foundation for her successful career. "My education at UNC Charlotte was invaluable to me," she says. "I gained a whole new perspective on dance as an art form. The faculty were not only teachers, but also mentors to me. I developed my teaching skills through this program and use these skills every single day of my life as a Pilates studio owner and instructor."

The interdisciplinary and collaborative environment nurtured an appreciation for all the arts, she says. "We were encouraged to explore our creativity and develop not only as a dancer but as an artist."

Melissa has remained connected to UNC Charlotte and has watched the university - and the department - continue to grow. "The Department of Dance has evolved and expanded greatly since I was a student. Having been fortunate enough to return to the Department as an adjunct faculty member through the years, I have been able to witness this evolution firsthand. The diversity of course offerings and strength of faculty prepares the student for a strong future in dance, whether they choose performance, choreography, dance education or dance medicine."

Melissa was named the 2018 Distinguished Alumna in Dance.