Michael Alexander is the Executive Director of Grand Performances and, at this writing, serving his third term as the State Assembly’s appointee to the California Arts Council where he served two terms as Chair. He began his professional dance career as Manager of the Aman Folk Ensemble in 1969 after dancing with the company since 1965. He continued to work with that company through 1981 ending his career there as its first Executive Director. During that period he produced the company’s first Dorothy Chandler Pavilion performance in 1971 (at age 23) which sold out; produced its New York City debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; coordinated its first major tours; arranged a major three week residency of Alaska; produced its first Institutes; developed its educational program; handled its incorporation; secured it first National Endowment for the Arts grants, its first California Arts Commission grant, its first Los Angeles County Music Commission grant and numerous other resources necessary for the Company’s growth.
During his time with Aman, he became involved with the Los Angeles dance community which was gathering together at the invitation of C. Bernard Jackson who had just been appointed to the NEA’s Dance Panel. Out of those meetings came the creation of the Southern California Chapter of the Western Division of the Association of American Dance Companies. Michael was elected the first co-chair of the chapter along with Paul Gleason. He ended up sitting on various dance service organization boards and becoming involved with the broader arts community’s efforts to increase general public funding to support creative work and the sharing of same with the public.
In 1982 he became Company Manager of the San Francisco Ballet working on national and international touring projects, some television projects and other administrative activities for that company. While living in San Francisco, he became involved with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and a number of other community projects.
In 1986 he returned to his home town of Los Angeles to manage his own booking agency. He was hired by Bill Bushnell at the Los Angeles Theater Center to produce its dance series which included performances by the Jazz Tap Ensemble and a program called the Lewitzky Legacy in Los Angeles before the plug was pulled due to financial limitations at the Center.
In 1988 he was hired by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs as Performing Arts Director which led to his becoming aware of California Plaza’s obligation to the City to have a performing arts program and his eventual hiring as that venue’s first Artistic Director in 1990. His program there was ultimately incorporated as Grand Performances which has established a national reputations as a presenter with America’s most diverse audience.
His earliest professional performing experiences include his work as a clown for the City of Los Angeles’ Traveling Circus. He can still ride his unicycle forward and performs now for his grandchildren and other friends (in the four to six year old range!!). He lives with his wife, pianist Victoria (Vicki) Kirsch, in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles.