Art is relevant in Fresno because this community needs it, the freedom to create is such a beautiful thing and sometimes it's all people have, I come from a community where training isn't likely because it's not practical to some people but passion I feel comes along way and a lot people I know have so much passion and heart to give to the arts, especially the younger generations. It's therapeutic for most of us.
A Fresno native may or may not realize the volume of art that is produced here, not to mention the artists who come out of Fresno and the surrounding areas. Some household names include Audra McDonald and Chris Colfer who have appeared onstage and onscreen, among several other talented individuals who call the Central Valley their home. Many artists start off young in capacities such as the Good Company Players Junior Company or at Bullard TALENT K-8 School. Some youth do theatre during high school and find a way to the community theatre stage. We see generations of artists come out of the valley in waves, going to schools known for their strength in the arts as well as artists who move to metropolitan areas to live their dream. Michael Flores, known as “Michael Christopher” as a choreographer, is a Madera native who has been a prolific part of theatre and the arts in the valley for the past few years, and is quickly growing a following through his artful and intellectual dance videos.
I have been involved in the arts in valley for only about 4 years, since I graduated high school in Madera. I had no idea what community theatre was because I only did the shows at my high school but when I graduated and discovered this community of people that loved the arts as much as I did I suddenly fell in love with the passion each person had toward theatre and performing. It wasn't until In The Heights at the Selma Arts Center where I had that chance to show what I can do creatively. I was trusted and I felt honored to put on a show so many people cared about.
While dance is Michael’s true passion, musical theatre and performance has given him a space to do and create what he loves. In addition to choreographing for the stage, Michael has also turned to the screen to market his work and share his art. A couple years ago, Michael began choreographing dances, then putting them into a short-film format to tell a story. Some videos are inspired by a piece of art, music, or pop culture, while others are modeled after politics and personal experience.
The choreography videos are a personal thing to me if I am going through something emotionally I get through it by visually creating what's happening in my mind, I am in love with not just Dance but makeup, costumes, and pretty much anything with production value and I really try to make them a production because that's what I do… My favorite project I've worked on would have to be the Pacify Her Movement Piece which a lot people refer to as the "blue boy video" so many people related to the video which is truly best part! When you touch someone else through your work makes it a little more worth it. Most people don't know that the video was about me and a situation I was in, so when other people relate to the story it kinda makes me feel not so alone. Of course the actors and dancers were amazing emoting all of this, I seriously have some talented friends that make this all possible.
Flores has created a style and nuance through his work. Many of his pieces feature brightly colored paint and technical yet pedestrian choreography. His work highlights local performers who are familiar to the Good Company Players, Stageworks Fresno, and Selma Arts Center stages, so the performers may be familiar to his audience as well. Michael’s pieces have not only created an extensive portfolio for his choreography projects, but also to highlight the talents of local performers and provide them with experience in the field. Despite the immense talent of himself and the performers that Michael works with, he constantly pushes his performers to improve and do better until his vision is achieved.
I feel like almost every choreographer and dancer should take an acting class. It's crucial in Dance, especially contemporary and lyrical where storytelling through the music is pivotal in the style. More depth needs to come out instead of having two emotions (happy and sad). A dancer is a story teller and acting is so important to me that I want to see the dancer go through all of the emotions the song, putting them in with honesty and coming from a real genuine place. I try every time for my choreography to come from that place, real moments so that the audience can truly connect with your work. My biggest fear is being in-genuine.
Michael’s work has heart. There is depth behind all his projects whether they be a musical-theatre inspired piece or a personal soliloquy through dance. Michael’s projects are anything but in-genuine, and the valley needs to see more true art such as his.
I would like to affect my community by promoting how we can be vulnerable and express our feelings through art, sometime being "strong" is touching when someone has overcome something and I think showing that struggle and making it empowering through art is beautiful.
Support the arts, love each other and be kind.
Keep up with Michael Christopher Flores on social media via Instagram @michaelchristopher17000 and on YouTube – Michael Christopher.