Michele Xiques


Photo: Dondi Johnson

Dance: Choreography

By: Gail Obenreder

“My dancers inspire me every day!”

Michele Xiques Arnold is a Delaware native, born on Dover Air Force Base where her father served. But it was when her father’s transfer took the family to North Carolina that she seriously began the training that would lead to her profession as a ballerina and choreographer and her calling as a dance educator. Michele returned to Delaware with her family when she was 12.

Xiques Arnold notes, “My dad’s mother was a Ziegfeld Follies dancer and his sister was a Rockette,” so the dance world was familiar territory. Her mother enrolled the young girl in dance, gymnastics, and swimming, but around the age of ten Xiques Arnold had to choose what she really wanted to pursue. “Dance gives me a purpose on this earth.”

Martin Luther King Speech, 2019
Length of Full Work in Minutes: 5:00
Role in Creation: Choreographer

Nutcracker Express Ballet Promo, 2018
Length of Full Work in Minutes: 1:13
Role in Creation: Choreographer

Throughout her performing career, she studied and worked widely – at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Joffrey Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Atlanta Ballet, Lakeview Theatre (West Virginia), and with Empire State Ballet in Buffalo, New York.  While studying at the Joffrey, she took class with renowned ballerina Gelsey Kirkland, but Xiques Arnold also cites dancers Lisa Alfieri, Elana Irwin, and Michelle Martin as formative influences.

When she moved back to Delaware in 1993, Xiques Arnold worked in the medical field – an area for which she still has a great affinity. But the opportunity to return to her first love presented itself when she was able to acquire a dance studio in Milford. There she created (and still runs) the First State Dance Academy. As a teacher and choreographer, she is lauded by students and their families as someone who “makes incredible things happen.”

At First State, Xiques Arnold regularly creates ballets, and it was for her choreography that she received the Division’s recent Fellowship, her second. Securing the financial support and income required to stage productions is her most pressing daily challenge. But she finds her greatest rewards in “the smiles and pride of the dancers after their shows” and her students’ acceptances to summer studies or professional dance companies.

Xiques Arnold – also recently awarded a commendation from the City of Milford – hopes to bring more popular stories to the stage as a way to increase the art form’s audience base and hopes to use her award to create a ballet based on the Harry Potter tales. “The Fellowship has meant the world to me,” an assurance that she continues to do “something right for local dancers and the communities that support the art of dance.”

Artist website: www.DanceCo-X.com

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