“Hamilton” ensemble member teaches class at GR ballet conservatory


Mikey Winslow backstage at ‘Hamilton’. Photo courtesy: Mikey Winslow.

Arie Nienhuis, Staff Reporter

Grand Rapids is a city teeming with opportunities for anyone young or old to express themselves creatively. One option for the city’s theatrical youth is the CARE Conservatory of Ballet, a non-profit ballet school providing education and instruction to any young person interested in ballet and theater.

One of CARE’s many talented alumni is Mikey Winslow, a Grand Rapids native currently working as a professional performer with spots in “West Side Story,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and most recently, the critically acclaimed “Hamilton.” For as long as he can remember, he said he has felt a distinct connection to dance as a form of expression.

“I don’t know if I can put a finger on what drew me into dance,” Winslow said. “It was more like ‘this is where I need to be.’ I played soccer and whatnot, but there is something different about walking into a theater and feeling the energy and the ability to stretch my wings and discover what my wings could be.”

Recently, Winslow took time out of his busy schedule to teach for a day at CARE’s Ballet Camp, offering instruction in both classic and modern styles of dance, as well as the visual narrative of dance. Winslow was taught at CARE early in his life and credits much of his passion to their generous teaching and comfortable learning environment.

“I’ve always been driven back (to CARE) because I just love it,” Winslow said. “I think it specifically has a special atmosphere. It really is a safe place to grow and express yourself (as a young performer). I want to give those students the same joy I felt when I was there.”

One of the features of Winslow’s day as an instructor was a brief introduction to hip-hop dancing a la the choreography of “Hamilton.” Winslow’s time in the ensemble of the show was an arduous, yet rewarding experience and something he is eager to share with young students.

“(Hamilton) has been a real treat,” Winslow said. “It’s a really rewarding show to do and the choreography is so meaningful. Performing this show is like giving a physical monologue for three hours, and I was on stage for a good 70 percent of the show. I taught a Hamilton workshop at CARE where I talked a lot about how important it is to deliver a message through your movement and the groove.”

Although Winslow’s time at CARE focused on the city’s youngest performers, he also shared some advice for dancers at Grand Valley State University who hope to reach the same heights he has on the professional circuit.

“I think it’s important to have the ability and energy to cultivate your own passion and seek bigger and bigger things,” Winslow said. “That is where we break out of mediocrity and define excellence. It’s not just a technical endeavor. You must always be striving and reaching for what’s next because that is what people are watching for.”