JACKSON, Wyo. — Perhaps one of the most magical things about Jackson Hole is that it truly is the best of so many worlds. The School at Dancers’ Workshop is no exception. With intimate class sizes, a supportive community of daring creatives, and easy access for all local kids, it enjoys all of the benefits of a small-town dance school. But when you look to the front of the studio — to the instructor at the helm of the academy — you’ll see Eric Midgley. And as his resume reveals, he’s about as worldly and exceptionally talented as instructors come.
Midgley, hailing from Canada, began his dance career in 1979, performing throughout western Canada and the Pacific Northwest with the Veselka Ukrainian Folk Ensemble. In 1989, he graduated from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division before joining Ballet Florida in West Palm Beach. In 2001, he joined Ballet Austin and remained there until 2008. He has also appeared as a member of Juegos del Arte, Maximum Dance, American Repertory Ensemble, and as a guest artist around the country. Midgley originated dozens of roles and became known not only for his technique, but also for his versatility and artistry. Performing an extremely wide repertoire, he has danced classical and contemporary principal roles across North America and Europe.
Midgley brings a widely varied background in design, music, and dance to the studio and the stage. In 1996, he co-founded Step Ahead – Ballet Florida’s Choreographic Workshop. During the next six years, he directed the program, which produced over 40 original works by dozens of new choreographers. He has choreographed over thirty works for a wide range of companies from ballet, to folk and modern dance. Together with his wife, choreographer Gina Patterson, Midgley founded VOICE Dance Company in 2009, a project-based laboratory for Patterson’s award-winning work. Additionally, he has created score edits, original compositions, sound, lighting, and projection designs and served as production manager and stage manager for dance performances for over 20 years.
And now, Jackson Hole is fortunate enough to enjoy his expertise, leadership, and passion at Dancers’ Workshop. As Ballet Master and School Director, he collaborates with the artistic and executive directors to offer a lineup of over 50 ballet and modern dance classes for students aged 18 months through 18 years. Midgley works with Michaela Ellingson, Director of the Junior Repertory Company – DW’s pre-professional program, to shape the training of young dancers seeking to further their dance careers.
Not only does Midgley bring excellence to the classroom, but he also brings a dedication to helping students learn and enjoy themselves. “I try to relate dance movements to things that kids already understand. I use a lot of humor, I try to make it something that they can relate to. Whether that’s something like picking up a glass of water or reaching for a doorknob, these everyday movements can help them deepen their understanding in the studio. Ballet can be kind of foreign, not exactly ergonomic, and those kinds of connections are often very helpful, especially for children.”
“I use a lot of visualization, a lot of stories with allegory and metaphor. And lots of laughter. I try to make it fun and funny — they should have a good time,” says Midgley.
Junior Repertory Company member Avery Taylor says: “Eric has taught me that dance can be a way of expressing myself. He reminds us often that even if we are doing a simple barre combination, we can still put artistry into it. Eric has taught me to not separate life and dance, but to let them influence each other.”
As fall slides into winter, Midgley is working with the team to prepare young dancers for their annual Winter Production. A fresh and daring take on the fairytale classic Cinderella, If the Shoe Fits is shaping up to be an unforgettable performance, he says. “The students are working very hard on the Winter Production. In addition to their regular class load, they’re rehearsing for hours every weekend,” says Midgley.
“We see performance as an integral component to the development of a young dancer, so we provide fully-produced performance opportunities as often as we can,” says Midgley. “If the Shoe Fits will be at a professional level — costumes, sets, lights, and sound on the Center stage — an exceptional gift for the student cast. These kinds of opportunities are critical to their education as artists and provide our community with a wonderful holiday celebration.”
If the Shoe Fits will light up the main stage at the Center for the Arts in downtown Jackson between December 10-12th. Tickets will be available on November 1st. Visit dwjh.org for more information.