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.
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 is currently finishing the details on First State Dance Academy’s performance of Pippi Longstocking. Xiques is writing the ballet herself, based on the book Pippi Longstocking written by Astrid Lindgren. Converting the written text to a ballet has been both challenging and exciting for Xiques as she selects choreography and music to accompany her script.
“When converting a book to a ballet you have to communicate the story through music and dancing,” commented Xiques. “It has been fun and my dancers are enjoying the challenges that come along with learning choreography for a new performance.”
The ballet will be performed by the First State Dance Academy on Friday, April 11 at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover, Delaware. The reward from this performance will come for Michele as the curtain closes 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. Teacher and mentor Michele Xiques will also accompany two of her dancers, Taylor Hogan and Glory Tucker, this year as they compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, an international student dance competition held in New York City.
The next event hosted by the First State Dance Academy will be the Mid-year Dance Concert on Sunday, January 26 at 3pm at the Milford Senior Center. The free event gives an opportunity for the students to show off their talents as all money raised from donations that evening will be used to support the Milford Senior Center. The First State Dance Academy is currently accepting new dancers as the first class of the year for ages four and older begins on Thursday, January 9. For more information on the Dance Academy, individuals can visit them online at http://firststatedance.com or call the studio at 302-422-2633.