Michael began training in central Iowa and furthered his dance education as a full-scholarship recipient of the Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet. Following an early graduation from high school, Michael accepted an invitation to train exclusively with American Ballet Theatre. During his tenure in NYC, Michael instructed at both Steps on Broadway and the Peridance Capezio Center. Subsequently, Michael accepted prominent appointments and was a celebrated principal dancer in companies across the United States and abroad. While dancing the male leads in the classical staples, and in works by Ashton, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, De Mille, Dow, Duato, Fokine, Fosse, Gamonet, Kylian, Massine, Prokovsky, Robbins, Tharp, and Tudor, Michael developed a love for choreography. Within the last 12 years, Michael’s choreography has been performed in the United States, Japan, Iceland, Australia, France, Romania, Dubai, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Michael’s choreography was highlighted in the international documentary “Dance the Dream at 50” produced by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Karz. A 2017 Ballet Arkansas Visions Choreographic Competition finalist, Michael’s work was previously selected for display at the European Contemporary Choreographic Initiative.
As an educator, Michael frequently travels throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, and France. He is a frequent guest instructor for the Cecchetti Council of America where is is the founding Artistic Director of the Enhanced Men’s Training Program. Michael is a sought after adjudicator and frequent jury member of Japan Ballet Association’s Hokkaido Ballet Competition.
After a 7 year stint as a principal dancer and choreographer with the Alabama Ballet, Michael was appointed Executive and Artistic Director of Ballet Arkansas in July, 2017. Since that time, Ballet Arkansas has substantially elevated the quality of it’s programming to include classical and contemporary masterpieces by world renowned choreographers, full-length world premieres, and a highly popular series of interactive performances devoted to young audiences. Along with his wife Catherine, Michael created the collaborative event series entitled “Motion in Main”, bringing hundreds of locals together to enjoy the best of live music, cuisine, and dance performance in the heart of downtown Little Rock’s Creative Corridor. Michael is a sought after lecturer in dance history and business, and was previously a faculty member at Samford University. Since moving to Arkansas, Michael has spoken at UA-Little Rock, The Arkansas Arts Center, The Walton Arts Center, and at UA-Pulaski Tech’s Center for Humanities and Arts.
Paul began his ballet career at the age of 18. He was an honor student in Fort Worth Texas with an interest in Physics and Mathematics, as well as being a Lieutenant Colonel “Battalion Commander” in ROTC, with a scholarship to West Point, but after seeing the Agnes DeMille ballet “Rodeo” and seeing the dancing of Igor Youskevitch in the Black Swan pas de deux, he was inspired to become a ballet dancer.
He began studying with Ross Hancock and his first professional job came 6 months later with the Dallas State Fair Musicals. In the fall, he went to NYC where his principal teacher was William Dollar, but he also studied with Igor Schwezoff, Edward Caton, Anatole Vilzak, Pierre Vladimiroff, Anatole Oboukhoff, Valentina Pereyaslavec, and Antony Tudor.
Following concert performances in NYC and an appearance at Jacob’s Pillow, Ruthanna Boris invited him to join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as a Soloist. A year later he returned to NYC and joined American Ballet Theatre, then called “Ballet Theatre”. At that time Paul Began studying with Robert Joffrey, who then invited him to join his company. This was the beginning of a long association with both Joffrey and American Ballet Theatre, during which he continued his studies with such teachers as, Robert Joffrey, Stanley Williams, Bill Griffith, Michail Lland, Vera Volkova, Hector Zaraspe, and Erik Bruhn. While in ABT, he was promoted to Soloist and then to Principal Dancer. He was also a Principal Dancer with the Harkness Ballet.
Paul has traveled extensively throughout the world, having made four tours of the Soviet Union, and has performed in almost every European country, both East and West. He has toured throughout the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Iran, as well as Morrocco, India, South America, Central America, Canada, North Africa, plus hundreds of towns and cities across the U.S.
Among the choreographers he has worked with are, Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, William Dollar, Eugene Loring, Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, Todd Bolender, Ailvin Ailey, Glen Tetley, Birgit Cullberg, Brian Macdonald, Ruthanna Boris, John Butler, Frank Moncion, Edward Villella, and Donald Sadler.
His roles included classical ballets such as, Theme and Variations, Pas de Dix, Les Sylphide, Pas des Deesses, and Kettentanz, dramatic works such as, The Combat, Fall River Legend, Lilac Garden, Feast of Ashes, The Lesson, Petrouchka, and The Moor’s Pavane, and humorous ballets such as, La Fille Mal Gardee, and Offenbach in the Underworld, as well as American classics such as Rodeo, Billy the Kid, Interplay, and NY Export:Opus Jazz.
Upon his retirement as a performer, he was a Ballet Master with the Joffrey Ballet, The Feld Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and New Jersey Ballet. Paul has staged Agnes DeMille’s American classic Rodeo more than 50 times throughout the United States. He has staged her dramatic ballet Fall River Legend in Boston and has recently set it for the Paris Opera Ballet and the Alabama Ballet. He has also staged William Dollar’s ballet The Combat, Gerald Arpino’s Kettentanz, Sea Shadow, Joffrey’s Pas des Deesses, and Balanchine’s Pas de Dix.
Since retiring, Paul has maintained an active life through mountain climbing and marathon running. He has ascended Mt. Rainier 3 times, climbed Long’s Peak and Mt. St. Helens, as well as climbed and traversed 20,320 ft. of Mt. McKinley. Paul has run four marathons, 2 of which were in New York City, and he has hiked almost 500 miles on the Appalachian Trail.