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School of Dance

Michael Williams

  • Professor, Dance

Michael Williams, Professor of Dance, has had a rich and varied career in the arts. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and an extensive background in music providing a unique musical perspective and framework for his teaching and choreography. Michael’s early dance training was at the famed Gus Giordano Dance Center in Chicago, where he later became a faculty member in Jazz (1979-1985). He was also a principle dancer in the international touring company, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago (1980-1984) and continued to serve as a master teacher in Jazz Dance Technique for Giordano Jazz Dance Workshops. Michael has performed in theatrical productions with such stars as Ann Reinking and Chita Rivera. He worked in Tokyo on the Japanese movie musical, Curtain Call with choreographer Michael Shawn. He danced in the PBS Emmy award-winning special, The Rehearsal and is a featured dancer in the widely-distributed instructional video The Jazz Dance Class, both Gus Giordano projects. Michael has worked as a model, dancer and choreographer with many of the country’s top fashion designers on their collection showcases for the Chicago Apparel Center and the Florida Swimwear Association. He performed as a union member of the Actor’s Equity Association in numerous industrial and corporate productions and in professional musical theater.

Michael’s choreography has been featured at Jazz Dance World Congress (JDWC) international festivals including Piano Man, a dance cartoon - Chicago; Muted Instrument - Nagoya, Japan; and SCAT - The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. SCAT was set on the touring company of the Amsterdam School of the Arts in Amsterdam, Holland and was performed at venues throughout the Netherlands.  SCAT was in the repertoire of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater for three consecutive seasons with national and international performances. Michael’s choreographic work, POCKETS, holdin’ a groove!, was performed at the International Theater School Festival in Amsterdam, Holland and opened the Jazz Dance World Congress in Phoenix, AZ. Michael served as Artist in Residence for the Taiwan National Dance Festival in Taipei, Taiwan and was a featured choreographer at the Jazz Dance World Congress in Monterrey, Mexico.  He taught Master Classes in Kids Jazz Dance at the JDWC in San Jose, Costa Rica. Michael danced in The Mature Dance Project, a company of professional dancers over forty, performing Sherry Zunker’s A Little Bit of Rhythm and Romance at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Millennium Park, Chicago, 2009.

Michael’s teaching at the University of Arizona School of Dance includes studio work as well as academic offerings. Michael teaches all levels of Jazz Dance Technique as well as Tap Dance Technique. He team teaches two courses in the dance curriculum, Teaching Methods for Dance and Dance History. Michael created and continues to teach Careers in Dance, a required business course for both BFA and MFA dance students. He stages work from his own original choreographic repertoire and is committed to creating new choreography each season that incorporates jazz and/or tap for a concert dance setting. Michael enthusiastically fuses a multitude of dance genres in his new contemporary creations.

Michael is Director of the Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase, an annual jazz dance festival attracting approximately 1,000 national participants each year to The University of Arizona. He received the prestigious Charles and Irene Putnam Award for Teaching Excellence in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Arizona and the 2005 Jazz Dance World Congress award for his significant contributions to jazz dance. Michael continuously strives to stretch his creative voice in the genre of his American dance heritage, jazz dance.