Start with athleticism, add some Chinese and martial arts steps, sprinkle with Latin influences, and you begin to experience the choreography of Michael Lowe, artistic director of Menlo Park’s newest performing arts company, Menlowe Ballet.
“When I was a child I was a tumbler and heavily into sports,” said Michael, on a recent afternoon, sitting in one of the Menlo Park Academy of Dance studios, where the company is based. “I wasn’t as much drawn to dance as I was eager to move to music.”
Raised in Alameda, Michael received a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York. “I have both a classical and modern dance background,” he said. “In this country, a lot of dance is fused together.
“Even when I’m watching Dancing with Stars, the foundation is ballet. I thought if I could learn ballet and do it well, then the other forms of dance wouldn’t be as big a challenge.”
Founded by Michael, his wife Sarah-Jane Measor (who is Associate Artistic Director) and Atherton resident Lisa Shiveley (who is Executive Director), the new company is dedicated to bringing alternative dance performances to Bay Area audiences. A trio of Michael’s pieces will be presented in Menlowe’s initial production on November 5. Titled DEBUT!, the three original ballets are Chuntian (In the Spring), Plague, and Cirque, described by Michael as “something for everyone”.
“I’m hoping that the audience will leave feeling like they’ve experienced something different,” he said.
There will be two performances of DEBUT! at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, which will take place at the Bayside Performing Arts Center in San Mateo. Tickets are priced from $25 to $40 and available for purchase online.
Photo by Scott R. Kline