MICHA SCOTT DANCES! this coming Saturday morning at Veterans Memorial in Santa Cruz. But she won’t be alone. She’ll be joined by four more professional dancers. And her program will be “totally interactive.” Kids in the audience will be invited to join the dancers on stage “to get a completely different on-stage perspective.”
But don’t take from this opening event in the 2015-16 monthly Tandy Beal ArtSmart Family Concert Series an idea that it’s merely entertainment for children and families. Rather, it’s “Hi-Octane dancing.” Micha Scott is a veteran who traveled the world for over 13 years as a senior member with the renowned Garth Fagan Dance. During that time she also taught dance master classes, including domestically at the Rochester School of the Arts, Santa Clara University, UC Santa Cruz and the State University of New York Brockport. She has fulfilled numerous choreographic commissions.
With two teens and one pre-teen at home, Scott realized that being on the road all the time with the Fagan company was incompatible with the needs of her husband and children. She retired and the family relocated to Santa Cruz in 2008. “My first love is the stage,” she says. “The three distinctions of my work are performing artist, teacher and choreographer. But while they inform each other, my first love is performing.”
It would be inevitable that Scott’s path would intersect with Tandy Beal’s. “She took a dance class from me and asked me to join a show she was doing,” Scott told me. “I was hesitant and worried about what that would be like. It turned out to my delight that Tandy is a consummate professional. Every time I work with her I learn a hundred things.” Scott danced in Beal’s last two productions, 40 Odd Years and HereAfterHere. (The latter also included Scott’s two daughters.) “Tandy Beal is the only professional choreographer I’ve worked with besides Garth Fagan. She’s a dear friend and mentor.”
Micha (pronounced Mee-sha) Scott began formal dance training at age 3. “My mother tells that I’ve always danced. I never wanted to be anything but a dancer.” Her first dance class in school was a combination of ballet, tap and gymnastics. Scott was born at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County; her parents split when she was two. She spent her youth relocating, to Ohio, Florida, Belleview near Seattle, Santa Barbara, and, at age 18, Rochester, “for no common reason.” She was a flute player in school bands. By tenth grade she had attended seven different schools. Until age 16, she danced ballet strictly. “At Cal Arts, Valencia, I was exposed to modern dance for the first time when I saw the Fagan company and took a master class with them,” adding, “I knew instantly that’s what I wanted to do. I dropped ballet and studied for nine months when Garth invited me to join his company.” She danced with them for 10 years, took five years off to have her third child then returned for three more. “It was the most extraordinary experience, touring the world, working with incredible musicians like Wynton Marsalis and the late Don Pullen.” With Fagan, she appeared as a soloist in an episode of the PBS series, Dance in America. She also remembers working with composer David Diamond while at Rochester.
In addition to her work at UC Santa Cruz, Scott taught and created new choreographic commissions at Cabrillo College. She held a four-month dance residency at Monterey High School and has for the last seven years been resident choreographer at Mountain Charter School in Soquel. As dance instructor at Mount Madonna School in rural Watsonville she choreographs their big annual Ramayana performance event. More recently, she has taken on the youth modern dance program as artistic director of children’s programming at the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center in Santa Cruz, whose founder is Scott’s sister-in-law, Cat Willis. They met long ago in Rochester. (Scott engineered the ‘in-law’ link. “Cat and my brother met at my wedding.”) In 2013, they appeared in a TED-X program at Santa Cruz’ Hotel Paradox. (To watch it, click on the link below.)
Above, Scott’s dance colleagues for the upcoming performance are Jessa DeLancey, Lila Salhov, Lyndia Peralta, Mercedes Johnson. And she is thrilled that her 11-year-old daughter will join them for the last five minutes.
To watch the TEDxSanta Cruz event, click HERE
Photos by Cliff Warner