Bearden teaching company class at Ballet Arkansas. Photo by Chris Cranford, courtesy of Ballet Arkansas
"I was asked many times by other artistic directors, from Devon Carney to Peter Boal, 'Wait a minute, you don't live there? How is this working?'" says Michael Bearden about directing Ballet Arkansas in Little Rock. For the past four years, he has lived a double life—one part artistic director of the up-and-coming regional ballet company and the other part a tenure-track professor at University of Utah in Salt Lake City, commuting more than 1,400 miles between the two locations every six weeks. He started teaching at University of Utah before he had even completed his bachelor's degree. "I was never one to shy away from a challenge," he says.
With masterful multitasking ability, goal-oriented nature and irrefutable charisma, Bearden has proven himself invaluable. Now, following his remarkable juggling act in Utah and Arkansas, at 37, he has landed the coveted position of director of the School of Dance at University of Oklahoma.
Antonio (left) and Kirven married in 2013. Photo by Matthew Karas
When Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd took their final bows with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) in August 2015, they knew exactly what their next step would be. Within two weeks they moved to St. Louis, Missouri, Antonio's hometown, to become co-artistic directors of the dance program at Center of Creative Arts (COCA), the same performing arts center where Antonio had enrolled as a teenager. Their job involves guiding aspiring professional dancers and directing and choreographing performances for both the school and the performance stage.