Executive and Artistic Director
Michael began the study of dance in central Iowa at the Betty Hill Dance Studios and with Robert Thomas and Miyoko Kato-Thomas, formerly of the Joffrey Ballet, at the Robert Thomas Dancenter. He was a full scholarship recipient of the Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet, and later finished his training with American Ballet Theatre in New York City.
Michael's 20-year's career as a dancer traveled him across the United States, Europe, and Asia. He performed leading roles in the classics and in works by Ashton, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, De Mille, Dow, Duato, Fokine, Fosse, Gamonet, Kylian, Massine, Prokovsky, Robbins, Tharp, Tudor, Van Fleteren, gracing stages from Milwaukee to Tokyo until his retirement as a principal dancer and choreographer with the Alabama Ballet in 2017. Succeeding Michael Bearden, Michael was named Artistic Director of Ballet Arkansas in the same year, and appointed Executive and Artistic Director in 2018.
Since this time, Michael has transformed the organization's vision, image, and programming, and doubled its gross operating budget. Ballet Arkansas now presents a vibrant repertory of the some of the most celebrated works of American dance, original creations by up-and-coming choreographers, and the classics. Under Michael's leadership, the Arkansas Time's has named Ballet Arkansas "Best Performing Arts Organization in Arkansas," the Dance Data Project has positioned Ballet Arkansas among the top 100 ballet companies in America.
Beyond his duties at Ballet Arkansas, Michael is sought after choreographer, dance educator, and consultant, His choreography has been performed throughout the United States, Iceland, Australia, France, Romania, Dubai, Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Japan, and was featured on film within the international documentary “Dance the Dream at 50” produced by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Karz. Adding to the Ballet Arkansas repertory, Michael created full-length productions of The Nutcracker Spectacular, Dracula, Sleepy Hollow, Cinderella, and The Great Gatsby, each to rave reviews.
Michael is the founding director of the Cecchetti Council of America's Enhanced Men's Training Program and serves on the faculty of its International Summer School. He works extensively for Japan Ballet Association's member schools and has served on the juries of the Hokkaido Ballet Competition and CCA Classical Ballet Competition. Over the years, Michael has held positions at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Capezio Center, and on faculties for hundreds of summer intensive programs. Most recently, Michael was on faculty at Samford University, a guest artist in residence at Belhaven University, and has presented lectures at UA-Little Rock, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Walton Arts Center, and at UA-Pulaski Technical College's Center for Humanities and Arts. As a freelance arts management consultant, Michael holds specializations in program development, strategic planning, and branding. In recognition of his business savvy, Arkansas Money & Politics Magazine named Michael as one of the Top 100 Professionals in Arkansas in 2020, and as one of the Top Influencers of 2022. He is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Americans for the Arts, and co-founder of the Central Arkansas Arts Alliance.