C. Michael Tidwell

Ballet Dancer | Class of 2015

Michael Tidwell was the principal dancer for Ballet Arkansas for ten years and has performed across the world. He has also served as an educator in Little Rock, Arkansas, and is the founder of the Tidwell Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization that employs dance as a means of exploring creative expression and healthy life choices among children.

Tidwell received his early education in the Little Rock public schools. He attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where his dance instructor, Dot Callanen, encouraged him to pursue dance as a career.

Tidwell studied with many renowned dancers, including Manolo Agullo of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo; Lorraine Cranford, the founding director of Ballet Arkansas; Maureen Migden of the Royal Ballet Academy; Peter Fairweather of the Royal Ballet; Luigi at the Luigi Dance Centre in New York; Gus Giordano of Chicago, Illinois; and Alvin Ailey of New York.

Tidwell was a principal dancer for Ballet Arkansas for a decade. He also toured Asia with the Buddy Simpson Dancers and was a recipient of the Arkansas choreographers fellowship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arkansas Arts Council.

As a teacher, Tidwell became aware of the fact that many in the wider community had little engagement with the performing arts due to lack of exposure and economic disadvantages. In response, he established the Tidwell Project in 1990. The Tidwell Project’s mission statement reads, in part, “Using dance as a portal of entry, youth are exposed to various forms of expression and given the opportunity to engage in healthy choices and behavior.” He also founded the Centre for the DansArts, Inc., a dance academy, in 1994.

Tidwell teaches at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock and has implemented the dance curriculum at Horace Mann Magnet Junior High School. He has also taught at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Philander Smith College.

Tidwell has received the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr., Commission “Salute to Greatness” Award, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Founder’s Award, and the Governor’s Individual Artist Award. He was also appointed to the Arkansas Arts Council Advisory Board by Governor Mike Beebe.

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