Childhood & Early Life
Mia Michaels was born Mia Melchiona Michaels, on February 23, 1966, in Coconut Groove, Florida, to Ruth Melchiona and Joe Michaels, a dance teacher who owned the ‘Joe Michaels Dance School.’ She comes from a family of dancers and started her dance training at 3. Her father taught her tap, jazz, ballet (at the ‘Miami Dance Center’). Her parents encouraged her passion for dancing and also encouraged her to learn contemporary dancing, which she learnt from her sister Dana. At 11 years she began choreography alongside her father.
She took training at dance institutes including, the ‘Miami Performing Arts Center,’ ‘Miami Conservatory,’ ‘Interlochen Arts Academy at Michigan,’ ‘Jacob’s Pillow’ in Massachusetts and the ‘New World School of Arts.’ Working at the ‘Broadway Dance Center’ in New York City, she began teaching as a substitute. In 1997, she founded the dance company ‘R.A.W. or Reality At Work.’ She was also the creative director of ‘PULSE’ on tour.
During initial period, Michaels had to make the difficult choice between professional dancing and choreography, as she often faced rejection (for professional dancing) due to her size.
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Michaels’ first major commercial assignment was the choreography of Madonna’s ‘Drowned World Tour.’ This was followed in 2003 by Celine Dion’s show ‘A New day’ at ‘Caesar’s Palace’ in Las Vegas. Michaels’ choreography received a lot of accolades and was nominated for ‘2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography’ for her work on ‘Celine in Las Vegas: Opening Night Live.’ She also choreographed for Dion’s world tour, ‘Taking Chances.’
In 2005, she was appointed as the ‘Director of Choreography’ for the Canadian entertainment company and world’s largest theatrical producers, ‘Cirque du Soleil’s’ first world touring stage show ‘Delirium.’ Michaels has also worked for a number of such artists as Ricky Martin, Prince, Gloria Estefan and Anna Vassi.
In 2005, Michaels joined ‘Fox TV’s’ award-winning reality show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ (or SYTYCD) as a judge and contributing choreographer. In 2007, she won ‘Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography’ for ‘Calling You’ on SYTYCD. At the ‘2008 Reality TV Show Awards’ the SYTYCD show won the ‘Best Reality TV Show Award,’ and her work largely contributed towards this win.
In 2009, Michaels received Emmy nomination for her work on ‘Mercy’ on SYTYCD. However, the same year she left the show and later explained that she had left to work with the Canadian version of the show and also, she had plans to work on some other personal ventures. She appeared as a judge and guest choreographer on SYTYCD Canada.
In 2010 January Michaels returned to the season 7 of SYTYCD-US. In 2010 and 2011 she won the ‘Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography’ for SYTYCD. She has also worked on other successful TV ventures such as the TV show ‘House MD’ where she created a dream sequence for Hugh Lourie. She appeared as herself in the 2010 movie, ‘Move.’
In 2012, she and her SYTYCD co-judge Adam Shankman worked on the film version of the hit ‘Broadway’ musical ‘Rock of Ages.’ The film cast they choreographed included Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mary Blige. Michaels also appeared in the feature film ‘Step Up 4,’ and has worked on the cable series ‘Cool Women’ for ‘AMC/Dream Works Television.’
Michaels has choreographed for a number of award-winning commercials including ‘Bacardi,’ ‘Ziploc,’ ‘Coldwell Banker,’ ‘Star TV,’ ‘VISA’ among many others. In 2013, ‘Variety’ magazine named her as one of the most innovative women. She has also worked for ‘Oslo Dance Ensemble,’ ‘Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago,’ ‘Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal.’
In 2015, Michaels did the creative work for the very successful ‘Broadway’ musical, ‘Finding Neverland.’ She was the choreographer for the ‘68th Tony Awards,’ which featured Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson.
In 2016, she directed and choreographed ‘New York Spectacular’ starring the ‘Rockettes’ at the ‘Radio City Music Hall.’ She performed as a guest artist and a mentor for Broadway that was hosted by Michelle Obama at the ‘White House.’
Michaels is the founder, artistic director and choreographer of the New York-based dance company ‘RAW’ or ‘Reality At Work.’ The company started in 1997 has won critical acclaim. ‘Mia Michaels R.A.W’ is her contemporary dance company and has toured around the world, performing at ‘The International Dance Festival, Amsterdam,’ ‘The Jazz World Congress, Seoul’ ‘The Gypsy Project,’ ‘Jacob’s Pillow,’ and ’99 Concert Season at New York City.’ The dance company completed a 6 weeks European tour in 2001.
Michaels has held faculty positions at several dance schools such as ‘Broadway Dance Center, New York City,’ ‘The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York,’ ‘Harid Conservatory in Florida,’ and her alma mater ‘New World School of Arts.’ She has choreographed for ‘Broadway’ productions, ‘Westside Story,’ and ‘Hello, Dolly,’ as well as ‘off-Broadway’ productions such as ‘If These Shoes Could Talk,’ and ‘Fort Chaffee.’
In 2017, Michaels launched her world-wide motivational movement-event ‘Mia Michaels Live – MML’ through which she teaches inspirational master classes. She also stepped into the fashion world as the oldest and the only plus-sized model to walk in the ‘New York Fashion Week.’ At times she participates in the dance convention ‘Jump,’ and works with the ‘Joffery Ballet School.’
In 2018, she participated in ‘Avenue Plus National Body Conference Campaign.’ The same year she was the director and choreographer of a short film about ‘Anti-gun Violence.’ Michaels became a published author in 2018 with her first book, ‘A Unicorn in a World of Donkeys.’