Mia Michaels, Choreographer
Mia Michaels is known as one of the toughest judges and choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance. She has a passion for her job that comes from a surprising place. She has won a couple Emmy Awards for her numbers on the show and has choreographed a number of other great things. For instance; Cirque du Soliel’s “Delirium”, Celine Dion’s “A New Day”, and the infamous “Get Happy” dream sequence from House’s season 7 episode “Bombshells.” On last week’s SYTYCD, Mia choreographed the awesome Top 20 number to Kaskade’s “Eyes”. She sat down on a conference call with us and revealed some of her feelings about her career and this new cast of season 9 dancers.
TheTwoCents: Can you kind of explain to us where you find the passion for dance?
Mia Michaels: I would have to say I was born into a dance family so it was always very much a part of everything. I was literally three years old swinging a bottle and running around a study already so it was already in my blood. Then when I started dancing I was always a thicker girl. I’ve always dealt with a weight issue from very early on, a teenager, and I think because I never really got the chance to dance professionally I think there was a lot of passion that is misplaced. I think all this passion that I wanted to be a dancer and because nobody would hire me because of my body type I took it and I brought it over to being a choreographer and a creator of movement. I remember the key moment. It was one of these auditions where they were like, “You know, you’ll never dance because of your body,” and I remember just at that point going, “Okay. Then fine. I will make my own world of dance,” and that’s kind of what I did. I just was like, “You know what? I’m not stopping here,” so I just created my own world where it wasn’t about my body. It was about my mind and my heart and just how I saw dance and how I would have wanted to dance if I would have been given the opportunity.
TTC: Of all the awesome numbers that you have choreographed over the seasons, do you have a favorite?
MM: No. I’m such a hard ass on my own work. I look at it and I think it’s good but I never ever think that I’ve tapped into anything great or brilliant. I think that is a blessing and a curse because what that does is it continues to bring me back to the studio to keep trying I guess, and I think once you achieve that feeling of, “I’m amazing and I’m this and I’m that,” then I feel like as an artist I think that’s when it dies. For me, I feel honestly that I haven’t tapped into brilliance yet as a creator of movement so that is a constant goal of mine to be like, “Okay. Well, maybe this piece. Okay. Well, maybe this piece.” To this day, I don’t understand the hype on the bench piece. I don’t understand. I don’t understand a lot of why people connect to my work. I just do my work and I think it comes out of me naturally, but I haven’t yet achieved that. I can’t honestly sit here and tell you that I have a favorite piece because I don’t.
TTC: I was just going to tell you that that was my favorite… Heidi and Travis on the bench.
MM: Isn’t it funny? It’s so crazy, right?
TTC: Which of the new contestants are you most excited to work with and why?
MM: You know who’s really spectacular is Eliana. She’s amazing. She’s a beast and she’s emotional and she’s powerful and her work ethic is amazing. I actually loved Daniel, the ballet guy. I really loved him and there is something really special about I call him Dare. Yes, those guys so far they’ve stuck out to me.
TTC: What would be one of the most surprising places that you pull a lot of your inspiration from, something that we might not think that you would pull inspiration from?
MM: That’s a really good question. I’m so in the moment when I’m creating and it’s all about instincts and what feels right and what doesn’t. It’s all about layer. Like I’ll create a base and then from there usually the material that will be seen on television or on film or anything like that is usually like the fourth or fifth draft. It never is the first one. Life, real life is what inspires me, where I am in my life. Even if I see some random character down the street and the way he walks or she walks all of a sudden it will just hit me, or a painting or a picture or a piece of music or a concept. It will just happen and you can never ever predict when the inspiration comes. You hope that it comes all the time, and what inspires you may not be anything really amazing to the public. When you do art it’s one of those things that you hope magically comes together – the concept, the dancers, the music, the moment. Everything is just kind of in the universe’s hands.
TTC: I’m sure you’re quite busy with work on So You Think You Can Dance and work in film. Is there anyone or anything in particular that you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?
MM: Absolutely. I would love to work with Tim Burton because as I’m transitioning I’m moving into directing and I want to direct musicals. I want to do film musicals and stage musicals. That’s kind of the next phase of my career. I really, really want to do that. I love his work. I love him and Baz Lurhmann. I’d love to also work with Sting, his whole catalog, the Police catalog. These people I’d love to work with.
So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesday at 8PM on FOX!
Anne – Assistant TO the Editor-in-Chief