So You Think You Can Dance judge Mia Michaels is at the top of her game. The legendary choreographer has worked with a star-studded array of performers, from Madonna, Jennifer Hudson, Prince and even Tom Cruise, to name just a few.
Not only is Mia an immensely talented artist, but she has paved the way for dancers of all shapes and sizes to thrive in a notoriously slim and unhealthy industry.
As a role model, mentor and source of inspiration to dancers worldwide, Mia is bringing her expertise to Australia for the first time to lead workshops in Melbourne on February 4, and Sydney on February 12.
Ahead of her eagerly-awaited visit, The Carousel spoke exclusively to the industry legend about re-writing the rules of body type, reaching your goals and how to stay fit and fabulous along the way.
How have you overcome the immense pressure to fit the ideal stereotype of a ‘petite dancer’, and what advice would you give to youth in order to maintain a body positive?
“As a bigger-sized dancer, I was rejected a lot and it pushed me to become the choreographer that I am and create my own world of dance. For me, it was a bit of a blessing. I love to see dancers of all shapes and sizes working hard at their craft and celebrating movement. I like to encourage any size body to get into dance and move and celebrate the art of dance. It’s about dancing from your heart, first and foremost.”
Did you ever personally suffer from body image issues and if so, how did you overcome it? What are your general views on the way women judge each other by their bodies?
“I was always a thicker girl. I used it for my benefit. I finally found beauty and acceptance in my body as I became older. I realised that I am constantly evolving and changing. We have to celebrate our bodies the whole way through.
Of course, we are all going to have good and bad days where we are less disciplined with eating and workouts. That’s part of being human. You have to constantly strive to be the best you that you can be everyday; that goes hand in hand with eating and exercise. Do something active everyday. Get out and move!”
Describe your health and fitness routine. How do you stay disciplined?
“I’m Italian and I love food so I do struggle with my eating. I will always love pasta and carbs and wine just like the next person but I am much more aware of my intake now. I allow myself to have it just not as much. I try to eat more veggies and less dairy, sugar, and carbs. I also workout 5-6 times per week alternating between yoga, Bari, and boxing. That changed my life.”
What advice would you give to older women looking to get into shape, or even dance?
“It’s never too late to be your optimal self physically, spiritually, emotionally, and artistically. In order to achieve your dreams and goals, it is important to feel your best physical self, which is something you are never too old to achieve.”
What does it take for a woman in her 40s, 50s, and older NOT to be invisible?
“You get up. You look at yourself in the mirror and you tell yourself you’re beautiful. You get dressed with what makes you feel like your best self. Don’t try to conform or fit in. Celebrate your uniqueness everyday. Go into your day with passion and fire and know what you want to accomplish. Know that there is only one of you in the entire history of the world so why would you be invisible?”
What moment could you identify as a turning point in your career that has led you to where you are today?
“It’s been an ongoing journey. One thing leads to the next. Each and every step informs our journey.”
Do you think transitioning from reality TV to Broadway (Finding Neverland) in 2015 has shaped your career for the better?
“I think every project has shaped me to be a better artist. Every job is different than the next and if we are lucky, we grow and evolve with each experience.”
What does a typical day in your life look like? What are your go-to health apps & health tech accessories?
“I wake up. I kiss my bulldog, Lily. I get a very strong cup of coffee. I sit down with my assistant, and go after the day in planting seeds for my business and the Unicorn Empire that I am building. I will workout for an hour in the morning and in the afternoon do personal errands or run to appointments. At night, I either see a show, watch a movie, do more work, or see friends and make sure to have a great dinner.”
You wear many hats from being an award-winning choreographer, coach and judge of so many mediums – fashion, film, video, stage, television and more – tell us what you love most about these different roles.
“I love that they are all very different and they all challenge me in different ways. They are also another layer of who Mia Michaels is. It’s fun to wear different hats or else it would be easy to get bored.”
You’ve worked with some of the best names in the business. What were some of the motivational tips or inspiration you got from the likes of Madonna, Celine Dion, Catherine Zeta Jones and Jennifer Hudson?
“I think that the common thread between all of these iconic artists are their work ethic, their drive, and their passion for being better each and every day.”
What has 2017 got in store for you? – We’ve heard rumors of an autobiography and a new TV show (Unicorn Academy), so what else is in store for Mia Michaels’ future?
“2017 is the year of the unicorn! The book is a self- help motivational book. I am developing two untitled television shows, creating a plus sized fitness and movement line, launching a global master series and mentor series online. On top of all this, Finding Neverland is on its First National Tour, so things are very busy! This is just the beginning of 2017 so I’m sure there’s more greatness to come!”
Finally, what made you decide to bring your workshops to Australia. What are you looking forward to most about your trip?
“I’ve never been to Australia so I’m excited to explore Sydney and Melbourne. I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture, the people, the food, and to also get into a room with all the Australian dancers and artists. I hope that this is the beginning of many different personal and business endeavors here!”
The Carousel thanks Mia Michaels for this interview.
To book your tickets to the event at www.miamichaelslive.com.au.