Michael Montgomery

Michael Montgomery was listed among Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 Dancers to Watch in 2013” and is considered a rising star in the LINES Ballet that performed in Israel and France late last year. Yet, only a few years ago, he was a student in Dominican’s BFA in Dance program at Angelico Hall.

That stage then was like any world stage to him now.

“We performed at least once a semester at Angelico. It was a nice experience, but in my opinion to say that it helped me prepare for bigger stages is a discredit to Angelico,” says Montgomery, a 2011 graduate of Dominican’s LINES Ballet/BFA in Dance program. “A stage, is a stage, is a stage. They all are vessels for us to give a part of our inner spirit and share our current self and thoughts with our world.”

Though he didn’t discover dance until he attended high school at the Orange County School of Arts, Montgomery, a native of Long Beach, came to Dominican in 2008 with high expectations. He trained at The Ailey School in 2006-07 when he fell in love with ballet.

"I gravitated to the BFA program at Dominican because the philosophies that they stood for were ones that I did, too, -- the idea of endless service to our art and passion. I also loved that they believe in the sense of family -- not just among classes, but as an entire organization. I wanted to be somewhere where I felt I could let my spirit soar and explore without limits."

Not only was Montgomery motivated on the dance floor, but he was inspired in the classroom. One of his teachers was Gay Lynch, assistant professor of Religion and Philosophy in Dominican’s School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

“She helped me tremendously with the understanding of the soul and the spirit. She helped me realize that `a mountain is still a mountain, even if it can fit in the palm of your hand,’ ” Montgomery says. “Everything we want to be, and want to obtain in our lives, is already within us. We just need to dig deep -- and deeper -- to call upon the powers that are always there, and always have been there.”

There was something unique about Montgomery the first day he walked onto the Dominican campus. His dance reputation preceded him and everyone seemed to know him by name.  Together, he and his fellow BFA in Dance students would ride the bus each morning from Dominican across the Golden Gate Bridge to the LINES studios and back, sometimes taking classes until 9:30 at night.

“The solution to that,” Montgomery says, “is loving what you do, and do it for love. We learn at LINES that indomitable willpower is the key.”

Montgomery made an impact at Dominican as a dancer and a role model.

“Michael radiated positivity and love for dance from our very first phone conversation when he was inquiring about the program,” says Marina Hotchkiss, director of the LINES Ballet/BFA in Dance program. “When he joined us, this positivity and love infected everyone around him, spilling over to our campus audiences. He is a wonderful ambassador, not only for our program, but for dance itself, for the poetry, joy and beauty the human body and spirit are capable of.”

By his junior year at Dominican, it was apparent that Montgomery stood out on stage and was managing to successfully handle the grind of going to class and going into the dance studio on both ends of long days. Alonzo King, master choreographer and director of the LINES Ballet, certainly noticed and personally recruited Montgomery to be a LINES apprentice, even though he was still 18 months from completing his degree at Dominican.

“He had the impossible task of learning all the repertory and heightened technical demands of entering the professional world, as well as a battery of academic courses, deadlines finals, and the pressures of still performing and learning choreography during his remaining time at Dominican,” King said. “And he was miraculous.”

Asked what he thought about King’s assessment, Montgomery grinned.

“I smiled, giggled and blushed,” he says. “That was my literal reaction.”

Now Montgomery is gaining all kinds of notoriety. Not only was he recognized by Dance Magazine, but 7 x 7 Magazine in San Francisco featured him in its October 2013 issue. In wake of that, Montgomery embarked with 10 other LINES Ballet dancers on an international tour that began Nov. 13 in Tel Aviv and ended Dec. 19 in Marseilles, France before launching another tour in the United States.

This LINES Ballet adventure is only two years after he graduated from Dominican.

“This is a dream,” Montgomery says. “To be asked to join this company was my dream. This is my dream company. I did not ever once expect to be a part of it so early. It was a lot of work -- traveling and staying on top of my studies, but it was beyond worth it because it is my passion, and my dream. I felt like the luckiest guy on earth to be accepted into my dream company and trusted to fulfill my schooling simultaneously. It was amazing challenge and honor that I will always hold with me.”