My rich career in dance includes work as a modern dancer, dance teacher, movement for actors instructor, choreographer, arts administrator, and published writer on the topic of dance. I have danced with several major companies, among them the Murray Louis Dance Company (1982-84), the Jose Limon Dance Company (1986-91), the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Donald Byrd/The Group (1991-98), and PARADIGM Dance. I have also danced with independent choreographers, including David Rousseve, Senta Driver, Shapiro and Smith, Janis Brenner and Friends, and 40Up. One critic writes that “Michael Blake’s space-eating steps and stretches look as if they will take him out of the theater and into the woods.” Others comment on my “liquid Strength,” “velvety softness,” “virtuosity,” “juicy muscularity and marvelous insouciance.” In May 2018, I was selected to be a speaker at TEDXasburypark. The theme was PASSION. I spoke, I moved, I represented the passion of dancing over the age of 50.
I have taught at colleges and private studios in the U.S., Japan, and Europe for more than two decades. I describe my teaching as being more than the transmission of movement; instead, it is about teaching students how to reach their potential as people and as dance professionals. I teach in terms of creativity, sensitivity, safety, humor, cultural sensitivity, and openness. I link my skills in the classroom with my experience as a rehearsal director, ballet master, and coach. Diane Grumet, co-artistic director at Steps on Broadway, NYC writes that guest teacher Michael Blake “is an articulate and inspirational teacher. Whether explaining the source of a movement or dissecting a phrase, Michael captivates the students.” Deborah Richardson of the National Black Arts Festival writes that it was “an inspiration for the dance instructors to witness such a positive transformation in their classrooms.”
Michael Blake holds an MFA in dance from Purchase College, and a 2010 Bessie
Award for Dance and Performance for his work with PARADIGM Dance. He began his dance career in the Murray Louis Dance Company where he danced from 1982- 1984. In 1985, Michael moved to Osaka, Japan to become the manager of Studio Dancin’. In 1986 he joined the Jose Limon Dance Company, dancing principal roles until 1991. Michael danced with Donald Byrd/The Group from 1991-1998. He has also danced with PARADIGM Dance, Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Shapiro and Smith, and Netta Yerushalmy. He has appeared on stage in Vinnette Carroll’s, What You Gonna Name That Pretty Little Baby? choreographed by Talley Beatty. He has performed at the Supper Club, NYC, and in a national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and in the Public Theater’s rock-musical, Lenny and the Heartbreakers. He has toured with Cab Calloway in Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Review and has appeared in the films The Tales of Cri Cri (Murray Louis/Alwin Nikolais), Unsettled Dreams (Donald Byrd), and in the documentary, Hanya Holm (Portrait of a Dance Pioneer). He has taught numerous workshops both nationally and internationally. He was Artistic Director of the Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program at the Joffrey Ballet School from 2011-2017. Michael has taught Contemporary and Modern Dance classes at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Capezio Center, Ballet Hispanico, and has been a teaching artist at the Mark Morris Dance Group in New York City. He has served on the dance faculties of Hunter College, Purchase College, Mason Gross School of the Arts, and Marymount Manhattan College. Michael is currently an Assistant Professor of Modern Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a performing artist with Netta Yerushalmy's Paramodernities #5 (Fosse).