C. Michael Tidwell
C. Michael Tidwell, a Little Rock native, is a jewel, not only within the black community, but to all the people of central Arkansas and the state. He has devoted a continuance of time and effort, both professionally and personally, to develop and promote artistic excellence in our great state through the art of dance.
Education (with a capital E) is the cornerstone and core of Mr. Tidwell’s commitment to young people. Mr. Tidwell received his early Education in the Little Rock public schools. While attending UALR, it was at the encouragement of dance instructor Dot Callanen, that he pursue dance as a career profession. His dreams and aspirations, combined with his enormous talent, opened a world of great possibility, which he has pursued to much acclaim.
Mr. Tidwell honed his skills and shared his talent with the world. He was a principle dancer with Ballet Arkansas for ten years. He has studied and performed under the tutelage of great dance masters, including Monolo Agulo; of Ballet Russe de Montel Carlo; Lorraine Cranford, founding director of Ballet Arkansas; Maureen Migden, of the Royal Ballet Academy; Peter Fairweather, of the Royal Ballet; Luigi at the Jazz Centre of New York; Gus Girodano of Giordano Dance Chicago; and Alvin Ailey of the Ailey Studio, New York.
Mr. Tidwell is a tremendous talent in his own right, and has always felt great pride in being a dance product of this state. In spite of his success beyond Arkansas, he chose to return to his home state and utilize his gifts here.
For many years, Mr. Tidwell has served as teacher and Dance Department chair at Little Rock’s Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School. Mr. Tidwell was a member of the Arkansas State Board of Education committee which initially created the dance frameworks and curriculum for the Little Rock School District. Prior to his tenure at Parkview, he developed and implemented the dance program at the now Horace Manna Magnet Middle School.
He has also taught at UALR and Philander Smith College. During his teaching career, Mr. Tidwell realized there was a large segment of our community who did not benefit from the performing arts in any form. For that reason, in addition to his “paying job,” in 1990 Mr. Tidwell founded the Tidwell Project, Inc., a dance performance ensemble; and in 1994 he opened the Centre for the DansArts, Inc., a dance school. One of the goals for the formation of these two entities was, and remains, to provide exposure to the arts to youth who might not otherwise have the experience.
The Tidwell Project is one of Arkansas’ first multi-ethnic dance ensembles in the state. The Ensemble has performed many times through the years in the greater Little Rock area, and statewide, including Pine Bluff, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, and yearly at the annual Black Hall of Fame Gala.
It is Mr. Tidwell’s goal to not only teach a child to dance, but to appreciate dance as a serious art form. He instills in his students that dance requires discipline and practice, which in turn encourages feelings of self-assurance, self-esteem and accomplishment. With these attributes, our youth are better prepared for their future pursuits, whatever they may be.