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 is a renowned dancer, choreographer, and teacher with an impressive career spanning over three decades. He began his dance career in 1982 with the Murray Louis Dance Company, where he danced until 1984. Following this, he moved to Osaka, Japan, in 1985 to become the manager of Studio Dancin'.
In 1986, Michael joined the Jose Limon Dance Company, where he danced principal roles until 1991. He then went on to dance with Donald Byrd/The Group from 1991 to 1998, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, PARADIGM Dance, Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Shapiro and Smith, and Netta Yerushalmy. Michael has also appeared on stage in Vinnette Carroll’s, What You Gonna Name That Pretty Little Baby? choreographed by Talley Beatty.
Apart from his stage performances, Michael has also appeared in several films, including The Tales of Cri Cri (Murray Louis/Alwin Nikolais), Unsettled Dreams (Donald Byrd), and the documentary Hanya Holm (Portrait of a Dance Pioneer). He has toured with Cab Calloway in Cab Calloway's Cotton Club Review and has also performed in the Public Theater's rock musical, Lenny and the Heartbreakers.
Michael is also an accomplished teacher and has taught numerous workshops both nationally and internationally. He was the Artistic Director of the Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program at the Joffrey Ballet School from 2011 to 2017. Michael has taught Contemporary and Modern Dance classes at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Capezio Center, and 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, Marymount Manhattan College, and Ithaca College.
In 2018, Michael presented a TedTalk entitled Life is a Dance about the joy of dance over the age of 50. He is currently featured in the HBO Max Documentary, UPROOTED – The Journey of Jazz Dance. Michael is an Assistant Professor of Modern Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a proud Actor's Equity Association member. He holds an MFA in dance from Purchase College and a 2010 Bessie Award for Dance and Performance for his work with PARADIGM Dance.