EXECUTIVE AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Michael began training in central Iowa at the Betty Hill Dance Studios, and under the guidance of Robert Thomas and Miyoko Kato-Thomas at the Robert Thomas Dancenter. He furthered his dance education as a full scholarship recipient of the Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet. Following an early graduation from high school, Michael accepted an invitation to study with American Ballet Theatre. During his tenure in NYC, Michael taught at Steps on Broadway and the Peridance Capezio Center. Over the next 18 years, Michael accepted a number of prominent appointments as a principal dancer, choreographer and dance educator, leading him to opportunities throughout the USA, Europe, and Asia, where he has worked extensively for nearly 20 years. Michael has performed the male leads in all of the classical staples, and in celebrated works by Ashton, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, De Mille, Dow, Duato, Fokine, Fosse, Gamonet, Kylian, Massine, Prokovsky, Robbins, Tharp, and Tudor, among others.
Within the last 12 years, Michael’s choreography has been performed across the United States, Japan, Iceland, Australia, France, Romania, Dubai, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. His work was highlighted in the international documentary “Dance the Dream at 50” produced by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Karz. Michael was a 2017 Ballet Arkansas Visions Choreographic Competition finalist, and was previously selected to display his work at the European Contemporary Choreographic Initiative. As an educator, Michael travels throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, and France. He is a frequent guest instructor for the Cecchetti Council of America where is is the founding Artistic Director of the Enhanced Men’s Training Program, jury member for the CCA Classical Ballet Competition, and a development consultant. Michael is a sought after adjudicator and multi-year jury member of Japan Ballet Association’s prestigious Hokkaido Ballet Competition. He was honored to premiere his work at JBA's Zendo Ballet Festival to rave reviews.
After a 7 year stint as principal dancer and choreographer with the Alabama Ballet, Michael was appointed Executive and Artistic Director of Ballet Arkansas in July, 2017. Since that time, Michael has revitalized the organization. Ballet Arkansas has tripled the number of seasonal performances to include classical and contemporary masterworks by world renowned choreographers, full-length world premieres, innovative multimedia infused productions, and a highly popular series of interactive programs for young audiences. Michael has emboldened the organization's repertoire by adding signature works by distinguished choreographers such as George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Agnes De Mille, Alice Klock, Florian Lochner, Yoshito Sakaraba, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. Under his direction, Ballet Arkansas nearly doubled its operational budget within 2 years, and now enjoys a gross ticket sales increase of nearly 40% and a fundraising increase of nearly 75%.
Michael is a sought after lecturer in dance history and business, and was previously a faculty member at Samford University. Since moving to Arkansas, Michael has spoken at UA-Little Rock, the Arkansas Arts Center, Walton Arts Center, and at UA-Pulaski Tech's Center for Humanities and Arts. In 2020, Michael was appointed guest artist in residence at Belhaven University, where he staged a world premiere contemporary work and guest lectured in the business of the arts. In addition to his duties at Ballet Arkansas, Michael is a freelance consultant specializing in PR, fundraising, brand management, and program development, and is the founder of the Central Arkansas Arts Alliance. In 2020, Arkansas Money & Politics recognized Michael as one of the top100 professionals in Arkansas. Beyond his many endeavors in the arts, Michael enjoys spending his time exploring Arkansas with his lovely wife, Catherine.