21st century education
Bryn Michaels

Bryn Michaels

15-year-old ballerina Bryn Michaels doing a spectacular grand jeté over the Chicago skyline. Michaels wears a white crop top, black shorts, and pink toe shoes.  Her lower-back-length blonde hair flows behind her in the Chicago air.

Bryn Michaels Online

I’ve met remarkable people in cyberspace. Among them, 15-year-old Chicago ballerina Bryn Michaels. At 15 she’s pushing 5’10” (~176cm) and in pointe shoes she’s got an amazing line that just seems to never end. In Michaels the intense physicality of ballet and the visual and conceptual qualities of cyberspace meet. She mixes both as she explores herself and her artistry.

Virtual Community

High-key photo of Bryn Michaels against a white background. Her face is split by the edge of the frame. Everything is whiteish and pale except for her red lipstick and her brown-blonde hair.Like 24,641 other peeps, I follow Bryn Michaels on Instagram. When she posts a remarkable photo of herself dancing, she gets thousands of likes and dozens of comments. Meanwhile over on Ask.fm Michaels gets a steady stream of questions. Curious questions. Compliments. Sometimes insulting or challenging questions. She answers them all with generosity, poise, and grace. How someone so young, who has both been given, and worked so hard for, so much talent and ability, can be so patient and giving, continuously amazes me. She’s totally focused on her art, and still manages to try to have a real connection to 24,641 people. Michaels answers the challenging questions with tact. She answers the compliments with grace and humility. And for the advice seekers, she’s always informative and encouraging. Thinking about body image? Michaels replies with empowering, deeply thoughtful perspective. Want to know how to break in your new toe shoes? She offers her technical details. (in the 24 hours since I typed “24,641” her followers have increased to “24,729”)

Bryn Michaels, Ballerina

15-year-old Chicago ballerina Bryn Michaels in Central Park in New York City. Bryn Michaels in a black crop top, black short shorts, and pink pointe shoes, against a backdrop of Central Park trees and benches.It’s crazy to remember how many years Fiona and I took ballet class. And, OMG, I’ve got a BFA in choreography from HKAPA! Seeing Michaels’ talent, dedication, and grace, makes it clear that I was never really a ballerina. Not like Michaels.

Someone with Bryn Michaels’ talent, poise, relentless line, and beauty could really piss you off! The thing is, “lucky” as Michaels is, it’s impossible to hate her when you see how hard she works, how humble she is, and how generous she is. If you scroll through her Ask.fm you’ll see lots of peeps amazed that she isn’t 20 instead of 15. It is amazing. Bryn Michaels has wisdom, strength, and clarity beyond her years.

Bryn Michaels, NYC

This summer Michaels is off to NYC for a “summer intensive.” Of course she’s sharing the work and the joy with friends and audience. Those who take class with her. Those who admire from afar.
Bryn Michaels experiencing a moment of dance as she suspends herself in a downtown Chicago fire escape.  Michaels wears a grey tank top, black shorts, and purple pointe shoes.15 years.
A line that never ends.

And dreams of, duh, a great career in ballet! For sure she should follow that dream. For sure. But is there anything else she should be thinking about? Like she has time?

Michaels is living such a full, engaged life. Probably the worst thing I could do is open my mouth and suggest anything. It seems unlikely that anything she might do could be better than what she’s already doing with such dedication and grace. Therefore I will, of course, open my mouth and suggest something.

*cough,* Kickstarter?

IDK how many people know of Bryn Michaels in Chicago. Whatever the number might be, I’m sure it is growing. But what of the tens of thousands who can’t even see her dance? Fans who follow along just to appreciate a frozen moment on her Instagram? There are great things in Michaels’ future. We are also in a time of new media, and new possibilities. I’m sure there are not any spare minutes in her day. Still. A modest Kickstarter project? A dance video? A live event? A mixed media collaboration? It would be great to see Michaels’ take the new media tools that she’s already shown such fluency and success with, and her talent and drive, and create something to share with her growing virtual community.

PS: Congratulations

Bryn Michaels performing on stage. Michaels, the center of 3 ballerinas on stage in pointe, all dressed in white against a blue cycloramaOh, PS: To Michaels’ parents out there somewhere. No doubt you know how much she’s already achieved. You probably deserve a lot of the credit. Who knows how much time and money you may have poured into her art. I’m ignorant of any details here and speaking out of turn, but I just wanted to say congratulations. I can’t imagine how proud you must be. Your daughter is an amazing person. Way to go parents!

L i n k y . L i n k y

• Instagram / Bryn Michaels
• Ask.fm / Bryn Michaels
• Tumblr / Bryn Michaels
• Kickstarter / Dance
• IndieGoGo / Dance

All images from Bryn Michaels’ Instagram. Photographers sometimes unlisted. NYC / Central Park image by:
• Instagram / J. Reid Photo
• Instagram / Dancing Until Dawn

Bryn Michaels and a friend sit atop a lone, blue, police baricade in th emiddle of a Chicago street. The barricade reads, "Police Line, Do Not Cross, Chicago Police Department"

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