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Hot 20: The Mystic, Michael Montgomery

Photograph by RJ Muna.

HOT. The word carries so many meanings: passionate, sizzling, trendy, intense, and yes, sexy. But for us, it signals our favorite month. Meet the 20 movers and shakers that have us fired up this year.

In a company of 12 performers, every dancer stands out. But right now, as LINES Ballet celebrates its 30th anniversary, Michael Montgomery simply pops.

Just ask Dance Magazine, which named him one of 25 dancers to watch in 2013. Perhaps it’s his talent: Choreographer Alonzo King tapped Montgomery for the company when he was still 18 months from finishing his Bachelor of Fine Arts. (“I explained to him that my degree comes first, and they made it happen—I graduated with my class.”)

Perhaps it’s his meditative approach: It meshes well with King’s philosophy of neoclassical dance. (Montgomery asks, “Are we here to please the audience, or are we conjuring energies that are being dispersed into the universe?”)

Perhaps it’s his willingness to explore beyond the stage: This summer, he performed in a short film, Wild’s Tonic, inspired by Thoreau, funded via Kickstarter, and filmed near Lake Chabot. Or perhaps it’s his groundedness: His family in Long Beach troops north every spring and fall to see him dance. (“My grandma will come with her notebook, and she’ll have some critiques. Because, you know, she watches So You Think You Can Dance!”) Our eyes are on Montgomery.

What Michael Montgomery will do once the dancing stops

“I also went to college for English education—for dance and English education—so when I’m done, I plan to become an English teacher. It’s my second passion. I had a really, really great teacher who, as soon as I said, ‘This is it, I want to be a dancer,’ she said, ‘If you have a passion, always have a backup, because it’s great to stay over-passionate than under-passionate. So find something else you really love to do,’ and it was English. I love language, I love literature, I really love writing. I really like being understood, and so that to me is a lot easier if you have a verbal readiness to be understood, or a plethora of words to use until you find that connection between people, you know? I also think that with art, you already know how to get real with people on a really human basis, and with my love for English, I can get students to want to be passionate about that. I hope!”