Mia Michaels in Neverland
There’s nothing Mia Michaels can’t conquer. With work for her own dance company (Mia Michaels’ RAW), concert productions (for both Madonna and Celine Dion), feature films (Rock of Ages) and TV shows (“So You Think You Can Dance”) already under her choreographic belt, you may be thinking “What’s left?” But the three-time Emmy Award–winner is far from done: She’s bringing her signature contemporary style to Broadway in Finding Neverland.
Based in part on the 2004 film of the same name about Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie, Neverland opens on Broadway in April, directed by Diane Paulus. (You may remember Melanie Moore performing as Peter Pan in a short preview at last year’s Tony Awards; the show ran in Cambridge, MA, for two months last summer.) Dance Spirit spoke with Michaels about creating the show’s high-flying choreography. —Jenny Dalzell
The cast of Finding Neverland at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA (photo by Evgenia Eliseeva for ART)
Dance Spirit: Congratulations on your Broadway debut! How does it feel?
Mia Michaels: I’ve always wanted to do Broadway, and now that I’m here, I feel like it’s exactly where I want to be. It’s a whole new beast for me. I’ve spent most of my career working on my own—being my own director, designing the sets, the costumes, everything. So coming into a project that’s collaborative has been a great learning experience. If you’re not a good collaborator, you can’t do Broadway.
DS: What was your process like?
MM: The movement came out of the script, the music, the story and the characters. It was a familiar process for me. When I set a piece for “SYTYCD,” for instance, I create a story in which the piece will live. The only major difference for Neverland was that I had to really understand Diane Paulus’ vision. She’s a brilliant director, and very hands-on. She likes to see a lot of options before she makes a final decision. I’d create something, and then we’d evaluate and tweak.
The collaborative process is tough, though. You have to be open to and okay with letting something go—even if you think it works. It’s been a really humbling experience, and I think it’s a new beginning for me. I love theater and working with big groups of people now. I’m walking away a totally different artist.
DS: What’s the choreography like? Will people who know your work from “SYTYCD” be surprised?
MM: It’s different—though you’ll definitely see “Mia” in there. Because the show was so collaborative, there are multiple voices in it, not just mine. But I’d say it’s “Mia” with more of a theatrical, Broadway-esque feel.
DS: What will people love about the show?
MM: There’s a whole lot of heart and soul. When I first attended the reading two years ago, I was so inspired by the story: It follows an artist who’s stuck and feeling like a failure. We’ve all been there. But it’s also about children who have already lost their father, and are now dealing with losing their mother, too. That part of the story was very real to me. After seeing the show, you leave the theater feeling inspired—you’ll feel like you have wings and can fly.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.