Walter’s World: Dancer Michelle Fleet

By Walter Rutledge

Some people have the good fortune to know early in life what they aspired to become. I imagine a baby eagle instinctively understands that one day it will soar above the clouds. Dancer Michelle Fleet has been one of these fortunate individuals. As a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company she is soaring literally by leaps and bounds.

Fleet has experienced the joy of dance almost her entire life. She says her official dance debut was age four; actually she began at age three, but says she doesn’t really remember dancing until four. Born in the Bronx she studied dance at the Five Points Cultural Arts Theatre and at the LaRoc Bey Dance School in Harlem, while staying focused on her academics at St. Anselm’s Catholic School. She later attended Ballet Hispanico and was a member of the first graduating class of Talented Unlimited High School.

Fleet was first exposed to the choreography of dance legend Paul Taylor at Purchase College. After graduation from Purchase (BFA in Dance) she auditioned for the Taylor organization and received a coveted position as a member of Taylor 2. More than a training ground for the main company Taylor 2 is a Spartan group of six performers that bring Taylor’s esthetic to venues that are unable to sustain the main company.

Taylor 2 is an amazing company to be in and to come from,” states Fleet. “Whether you are moving on to the main company or going on to something else it is an amazing company to be a part of. Its tight knit, there are only six dancers. We double up on parts within the works. You really root each other on and help each other out. It is really difficult, and in many ways it is almost harder than being in the main company. And yes it is like boot camp. I was there for about two and a half years before he (Paul Taylor) asked me to join the main company.”

In the upcoming season, which begins Tuesday February 22, 2011 at New York City Center, Michelle will perform in Phantasmagoria one of the two New York premieres. Another personal milestone for this season will be to dance the role originated by Carolyn Adams in the Taylor classic Esplanade. We look forward to seeing this gifted artist, who combines grace and beauty with athleticism and vigor to convey Taylor’s sheer joy of movement.

Photos 1) Michelle Fleet, Paul B. Goode photographer 2) Julie Tice and Michelle Fleet, Tom Caravaglia photographer

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