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The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Michelle Millman

We have many talented artists and creatives living and working in our Farmington/Farmington Hills community and our weekly interview series, sponsored by City Life Realty, will introduce you to some of them.

Today we feature dancer Michelle Millman.

When did you first start dancing?

At age four the doctor sent me to ballet school to correct my flat feet. Not only did I gain strength, but I fell in love with the beauty of movement, which I have pursued all my life. Now I am drawn to the landscape of emotion as expressed in Flamenco dance.

After years of study in dance, movement and sport, the joy of movement remains my constant life-giving source. It has led me down so many paths of discovery . . . culture, literature, history, movement science, travel and friendship.  I see now that dance has been my very essences, my connection to the world.

My mission is to continue to explore movement and to share it with others by performing and teaching. 

I fell in love with the beauty of movement, which I have pursued all my life. Now I am drawn to the landscape of emotion as expressed in Flamenco dance.

Did you receive formal training?

I received a B.S. Degree in Education from the University of Michigan, and an M.F.A. in Dance from the School of the Arts, New York University. I have attended many workshops, master classes and seminars, notably Spanish American Dance Festival in Chicago and Adult Theatre Camp in Stratford, Canada. I currently study Tai Chi. I enjoy learning.

Are you a member of any local or regional arts groups?

I organize, perform and teach a performing group, Companeros de Flamenco. We perform the vibrant Spanish Art, Flamenco. We are listed in the Touring Directory of the Michigan Arts and Humanities Council. We perform around the state. Last year we performed at many community events, including Cromaine Library Second Sunday Series in Hartland, International Festival of Holland, Multicultural Music & Dance Concert in Livonia, Canton’s 2018 International Festival, Willard Library in Battle Creek, and Huron Valley Council for the Arts in Highland.

What do you think is missing from the arts community in Farmington/Hills?

I wish that Farmington Hills had an active and supportive arts community.  The last time my students performed at the Festival of the Arts at the Costick Center was April 2015. Occasionally we have performed in other Farmington events, however, there were budget cuts and dance was subsequently eliminated.

Why is celebrating and promoting art healthy for a local community?

I think the Arts brings vitality and beauty to a community.  It introduces us to new visions or perspectives, and it encourages involvement and communication.

Learn more about Michelle Millman here.

(Are you an artist or creative living in Farmington/Hills? We’d like to feature you and your work here, too. Download our questionnaire and return it to info@kickstartfarmington.org.)

KickstARTing Creativity: Using Dance to Bridge Art & Activism

We highlight here some great articles we’ve read this week dealing with art, creative placemaking, and building great communities. You’re sure to find some inspiration to make your life and our community even better!

  • 8 Things That Should Go Extinct in Cities: “The age of the strip mall with parking in front is waning, and for good reason: nothing kills the sidewalk experience like being sandwiched between a parking lot and a busy street. But the new replacement trend isn’t always positive.”
  • Using Dance to Bridge Art and Activism: “I’m trying to have a bigger conversation about social conditions, and sometimes I’m having that conversation in a really pensive, sort of introspective kind of performance,” Cullors said. “And then sometimes it’s really extroverted—like, let’s get up and dance together.”
  • Culture and the City: “The Urban Land Institute UK Urban Art Forum recently released a new six-step guide to including culture in developments; we look at some of the ways to ensure that culture remains a core part of city planning.”

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen

We have many talented artists and creatives living and working in our Farmington/Farmington Hills community and our weekly interview series, sponsored by City Life Realty, will introduce you to some of them.

Today we feature novelist Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen.

When did you first start writing?

I studied journalism and history at The University of Michigan and have worked as a reporter and editor the majority of my life. But as much as I enjoyed journalism, I always had a burning desire to write a novel. After my parents died within less than a year of each other, I realized that life is short and that a dream deferred can die.

So, I set aside journalism, and for ten years worked hard and struggled to find success as a fiction writer. Grateful it came.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

Northville Poet Kathleen Ripley Leo, who has published fifteen collections of poems, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I took a novel writing class at Schoolcraft College from her about a decade ago, and we became fast friends. I’ve learned so much from her.

Rejection is inevitable. Use it to get better.

Are you a member of any local or regional arts groups?

I am a member of Detroit Working Writers.

Can you describe something you’ve created that is particularly meaningful to you?

My novel Celestina’s Burnings. The best part of writing and getting this book published is giving an everyday baker girl a voice. Celestina pushes against the most powerful people and ideas of Western Civilization. I love how she adapts. And in the end, with a little help from her friends, she just might get the better of them all.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” —Toni Morrison

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger writers?

Rejection is inevitable. Use it to get better. Study, learn, and experiment with scene and structure. Read books about writing and attend writer’s conferences. At the end, with lots of work, you will become the writer you dream to be.

Learn more about Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen here.

(Are you an artist or creative living in Farmington/Hills? We’d like to feature you and your work here, too. Download our questionnaire and return it to info@kickstartfarmington.org.)

KickstARTing Creativity: What Makes a City Lovable?

We highlight here some great articles we’ve read this week dealing with art, creative placemaking, and building great communities. You’re sure to find some inspiration to make your life and our community even better!

  • What Makes a City Lovable: “A great walk evokes all sorts of memories, emotions, and random associations. The sensory memory of the feel of a place under your feet, the smell of its air, the tinge of the lighting, associated with the people you’ve known and loved there. A walk through a lovable city brings out the love in us.”
  • Ten Trends to Impact the Arts in 2020: “Artist collectives are forming powerful political bodies, which are eliciting great work and manifesting political, organizational, and field shifts.”
  • Can Art Fight Fake News?: “’Is there anything stronger than fear?’ The audience responded popcorn-style, shouting out suggestions: love, grief, loss, and anger.”
  • Britain’s Bold Plan for High Speed Rail: “While the use of the fastest tracks all the way has not yet been fully confirmed, high-speed rail could revolutionize north-south travel in England, shaving an hour off the journey time between London and Manchester and tripling the current capacity of trains along the route.”
  • Legalizing Play in City Streets: “It makes absolutely no sense to have this ordinance on the books which criminalizes the behavior of children that is extremely natural.”

KickstARTing Creativity: Revolutions and Art Museums

We highlight here some great articles we’ve read this week dealing with art, creative placemaking, and building great communities. You’re sure to find some inspiration to make your life and our community even better!

  • When Arts and Business COLLIDE: “Understanding the economic impact that an arts community or district can have, Collide’s ultimate vision is to help Cuyahoga Falls become a destination for art, creating a positive economic effect.”
  • Building Strong Towns, One Storefront at a Time: “Storefront Placemakers are business owners who treat their storefronts as public space. They improve the city around them by making their blocks more inclusive, compassionate and open.”
  • Designing Buildings with a Sense of Place and Purpose: “Francis Kéré has gone on to become one of the most distinguished contemporary architects thanks to his pioneering of a communal approach to design and his commitment to sustainable materials as well as modes of construction.”

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Richard Adams

We have many talented artists and creatives living and working in our Farmington/Farmington Hills community and our weekly interview series, sponsored by City Life Realty, will introduce you to some of them.

Today we feature artist Richard Adams.

When did you first get started in the arts?

Art has been an important part of my life. My earliest memory is my mother using letters from the alphabet to draw a picture of a pig.  The purpose my mother had for doing this was for me to learn the alphabet.  An M was used for the ears and two W’s for the legs and feet. Several other letters were used to make other parts of the pig.   It seemed that after that I always was interested in art.

… each finished piece is a steppingstone to the next project.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

There were two important people in developing my interest in art. Jan Field and Michael Zarathka both were instructors that I met in the early 1970s when I was an art student at Eastern Michigan University.

Are you a member of any local or regional arts group?

I am a member and President of the Farmington Art Foundation, a club composed of artists in the Farmington area.  I also am a member of the Downriver Council of the Arts.

Has your art appeared in any city programs or events, such as the Public Art Program at City Hall or Art on the Grand?

My artwork has been displayed in Farmington Art Foundation’s Spring Shows. I am a past and current contributor to the Farmington Hills Public Art Program at City Hall and my art has been shown at both Farmington Libraries. Other nearby venues that my paintings have been exhibited are Downriver Council of the Arts, Livonia Exhibition of Fine Arts, Wayne State Alumni Submissions and the Northville Art House. I also was chosen to display my work in different Art Prize venues in Grand Rapids.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” —Maya Angelou.

This suggests to me that each finished piece is a steppingstone to the next project.

(Are you an artist or creative living in Farmington/Hills? We’d like to feature you and your work here, too. Download our questionnaire and return it to info@kickstartfarmington.org.)