By Amy Chen
April 28, 2005

Mike Gosney began his training at the age of 15 and studied many forms of ballet under the direction of Ken Von Heideke, Sherry Morray, Anida Sedala, Birute Barodicaite, Anna Czajun, Pam Tanis, Betsy Herskind, and others in the Chicago area. He has received numerous scholarships and currently continues his training at the Ruth Page Foundation. Mike is on the teaching staff at Joel Hall Dance Center and Dance Center of Evanston and has taught master classes around the country.

I recently caught up with Mike to ask about his views on teaching and his recently formed company, Elements Contemporary Ballet.

On Dancing

Q: When and why did you start dancing?

A: I started studying ballet when I was about 17 yrs old. Before then I was taking dance classes throughout high school but was learning little about technique. It was because of this that I studied so hard….I was awestruck during my first ballet class. I knew this kind of focus was right up my alley! Not to mention I’ve always adored classical music.

On Teaching

Q: What do you like most about teaching?

A: Teaching gives me more joy than most things, including dancing. I love the connection that I have with dancers that crave the athleticism and artistic mixture that ballet has. To see someone understand ballet the way that I do because I’ve communicated and coached them, is extremely rewarding. I love to help people find joy in hard work!

Q: What’s the hardest thing about teaching?

A: The hardest thing about being a teacher is watching dance destroy someones self esteem. It was a hard lesson to learn that hard work is not for everyone. I’ve found that some people just really need instant gratification for their presence in class and, if that doesn’t happen for them, they think something is wrong with their body. No matter how hard I try to show them that it only takes time, some people do not have an athlete’s mentality. I cannot connect to the artist inside of them when this is the case.

Q: Any words of advice for aspiring male dancers?

A: For aspiring male dancers I would say one main thing… not sell out. Find an artistic home and dedicate your time to it. Every dance company needs guys. Don’t settle for the highest paycheck. Also, model yourself after not only what other great men are doing or have done, but also what the girls can do.

On Elements

Q: Tell us about your company.

A: Elements Contemporary Ballet is the name of my ballet company. It is made up of 15-20 dancers that have similar goals, disappointments, and passions for ballet as I do. We’re training very hard together right now and I’m choreographing several works on them at the same time. It’s an exclusive group of very talented and dedicated dancers…I’m very lucky to know and work with all of them.

Other than that, we all want to keep it a surprise for our concert in late May or early June of 2006. Watch out for us!!!

Fun Facts

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: My favorite book is Wuthering Heights

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: My favorite movie is Star Wars (all 6!!)

Q: What is a talent you have that few people know about?

A: Few people know that I also studied classical voice.

Q: Any pets?

A: I have a new puppy….his name is Max…I love him. Sometimes you can catch him at Joel Hall Dance Center teaching with me. [ Amy: I did! He’s very cute!]

Q: What’s your sign?

A: My astrological sun sign is Virgo, moon sign Aquarius, rising sign Aquarius/Capricorn cusp 0 degrees, mercury in Libra, Venus in Leo, Mars in Gemini.

Thanks Mike!