Canale brings ‘intense’ style to Glenwood |

Canale brings ‘intense’ style to Glenwood

When professional ballet dancer Michelangelo Canale was 17, he took a gamble on a University of Nevada-Las Vegas dance class ” and won.

“I just stumbled into it,” said Canale, founder and director of the Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy and guest artist of the Danse Arts Theatre Company in Glenwood Springs this weekend. “I had graduated (from high school) early and was signed up for this ballet class. I was getting credit for it.”

Canale, whose self-described intense dance style stems from his passion for BMX freestyling as a youngster, studied ballet for just two years before being accepted to the famed Juilliard School in New York City. He will perform at 7:30 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Sunday during the Symphony in the Valley’s “Dancing into Christmas” holiday show.

“I’m not one of these types of dainty male dancers ” my reputation is kind of intense. My teachers thought I was talented and worked hard,” said Canale, who was born in New Orleans and returns to the Big Easy each year to dance in “The Nutcracker.” “It didn’t come easy like it did to other dancers. I said ‘no’ to a lot of parties to become a dancer.”

Like the old-world Michelangelo, Canale’s artistic pursuits were not initially lauded by some family and friends.

“I think I found more respect from my friends than my own blood,” said Canale, who will present a Russian solo during Danse Arts’ “Nutcracker” renditions. “My parents thought I was just playing around until I was accepted into Juilliard.”

Along with Juilliard, Canale studied at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he met famous Russian ballerina Natalia Dudinskaya, who passed away at 91 in 2003. He graduated from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, an institution his wife and occasional dance partner also attended.

“I also met Rudolf Nureyev at the American Ballet Theatre school at Juilliard. He defected from Russia while he was on tour,” said Canale, who has been dancing for more than 20 years. “I toured Taiwan for 18 days. We toured the whole island. Now I’m kind of retired into teaching.”

Canale said he enjoys instructing at the Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy because it provides the opportunity to impact young dancers’ lives.

“When I make a difference in a student’s life, when they want to dance professionally, and they say ‘thank you,’ you can’t put a price on that,” he said. “What really makes a difference is when they come back and they really appreciate it. I like passing on my experience to them that was handed down to me from one teacher to the other.”

For Canale, dancing is more than just an occupation.

“You can compare it to ‘why do you eat everyday?'” he said.

Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518

– Symphony in the Valley and Danse Arts Theatre Company of the Glenwood Dance Academy

– “Dancing into Christmas”

– 7:30 p.m. today, and 4 p.m. Sunday

– Glenwood Springs High School auditorium

– adults $10; youth (3-18) $5; family $25; and seniors (70 and older) $8

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