For the second year in a row choreographer Michele Xiques has been recognized by the Delaware Division of the Arts (DDA) as this year she received the Emerging Fellowship Award in the Dance-Choreography discipline. Out of 115 artist applicants this year, Xiques was among only 17 throughout the state of Delaware recognized, one of only nine candidates to receive an award in the Emerging category. This month Xiques was recognized at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, DE by the DDA, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffery Bullock, and Biggs Museum Curator Ryan Grover.
Owner of the First State Dance Academy in Milford, Michele was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Individual Artist Fellowship grant from the DDA in 2013. Xiques, who took over the existing business ten years ago from Maria Fry, runs the Academy which welcomes roughly 130 adult and children dancers each year.
Ms. Xiques, who was a professional ballerina herself, majored in dance at Point Park College, became an equity actor and performed with Atlanta Ballet and Empire Ballet in New York. This experience led her to develop her first dance company known as the Delaware Dance Alliance. With help from her assistant Michelle Parisi, Ms. Xiques has brought dancers in from all over Delaware including Seaford, Rehoboth Beach, Wilmington, Newark and Harlty to be a part of the new dance company.
“I am honored to receive recognition from the Delaware Division of the Arts two years in a row,” commented Xiques. “I love what I am doing for a living and I am excited to see our new performance this Spring.”
Each artist recognized by the DDA Fellowship grants is required to have a public exhibit or performance showcasing their work in the upcoming year. Michele chose to write a ballet herself, based on the book Pippi Longstocking written by Astrid Lindgren. The First State Dance Academy’s performance of Pippi Longstocking was performed this past April at the Schwartz Center in Dover, DE where the show received a standing ovation from audience members.
“The audience really seemed to enjoy the show by their reactions to what the dancers were doing on stage,” commented Xiques. “I was a nice experience for the dancers as the audience stayed afterwards to speak with them in the lobby.”
The real reward from this performance came for Michele as the curtain closed on opening night of the ballet. “The best reward for me is when the curtain closes, the audience applauds and I see the smiles on the kids’ faces,” commented Xiques. “It is really great to see their excitement and the pride of the people that have come to see them perform.”
Several First State Dance Academy students have enjoyed recent success including Anna Edmondson who was accepted and is now a full-time student at The Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington, D.C. and Ian Boyen who was accepted at the Pittsburg Ballet School in Pennsylvania. Delaware Dance Alliance will host two more ballets at the Schwartz Center as they perform Duke Ellington’s Jazz Nutcracker on November 8, 2014 and Pirates of the Caribbean on April 25 and 26, 2015. The company will also perform The classical version of the Nutcracker on December 13 at the new Seaford High School theatre. For more information on the Dance Academy, individuals can visit them online at http://firststatedance.com or call the studio at 302-422-2633.