When multi-Emmy award-winning choreographer Mia Michaels dances, she sees things from the eyes of a child.
"We all have an inner child within us. And that is what people respond to ... that is where the magic is," Michaels told The Huffington Post Australia.
Known by her rise to fame on the US television series So You Think You Can Dance, Michaels recently made her first trip to Australia to hold a series of dance workshops for children and adults.
"That day in Melbourne was quite magical. Everybody embraced every word I said and every step. They were just with me from the moment I stepped onstage... and I watched them transform. I watched them completely let go and allow the spirit of the movement to come through them," Michaels said.
They trusted themselves and they didn't fear movement. They were free.
"People ask, 'how do you get inspired?' That inspires me."
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From Miami, the critically-acclaimed dancer and teacher has been in the studio her whole life.
"I was born into a dance family and I grew up in a dance studio. I had bars on my legs for the first 8 years of my life," Michaels said.
Describing herself as a rebellious child, dancing was what she always came back to.
"When I look back now, I think dance literally saved my life," Michaels said.
"A lot of my work comes from my life. It is a living, breathing diary and So You Think You Can Dance was my way of showing that to the world."
Thirteen seasons deep, the popular series certainly catapulted Michaels into the public eye through her unique slate of contemporary dance. But she pinpoints her time working on Celine Dion's Las Vegas Show, 'A New Day', as her greatest game-changer.
"I worked with a choreographer who taught me a message that simplified everything. I learnt how to have the eyes of a child. I noticed that the more real I became, the more the world was responding," Michaels said.
"Dance can be a series of steps, or it can be from the heart. Once I tapped into the heart of my movement, I never went back to steps."
As a teacher, this is her message to young dancers.
It's about giving them encouragement so that they can go out there and be proud of their uniqueness. And be fearless.
"I'm a real advocate for authenticity. It's really important -- especially as an artist -- to be able to be who you were meant to be, because that's what will stand you apart from thousands of dancers," Micheals said.
"When I turn around and see how I've lead a room of dancers...when I see how I have changed somebody's life, that is what gives me the inspiration and the energy to continue doing what I'm doing."
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