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.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search