Published reviews and Testimonials
Press review for "In Darkness" - “For pure drama, it would be hard to top Aria Michaels snaky improvisation done blindfolded, creating a sense of a dancer moving through time and space without fear.” Belly Dance New England 9/10
Press review for "At Last" -“This mademoiselle is refinement personified... Utterly classy, this fair damsel floated across the room, casting her ethereal light with every lyrical gesture.” Belly Dance New England 3/21/11
Press review for ABRAXAS premiere and sold out show (Alchemy) - "Two hallmarks of ABRAXAS are collaboration and experimentation.... Alchemy is a remarkable debut by a remarkable dance company. ABRAXAS is a fascinating addition to the local dance community and I look forward to their future performances." Belly Dance New England, 6/12
Press review for ABRAXAS (Revelations) - "ABRAXAS is known for its innovation, drama, and excellent coordination, and this piece was no exception. "The traditional dance training of Aria Michaels Paradise informs her company not only in its choreography but in the work ethic she demonstrates....It is magic when a group moves as one and with such passion and feeling as ABRAXAS." Belly Dance New England, 1/13
I first met Aria backstage at the show we were both part of. I was totally mesmerized by her appearance, as she seemed to be coming from a far away land of fairy tales. Soon after, I have had a chance to take Aria’s workshop in theatrical belly dance, and ever since I was really lucky to be a part of Aria’a magic, and to be learning from such an inspirational, and talented dancer. With her devoted teaching style, and dancing that is a pure flawless magic, Aria will easily invite you into her world of fairy tales. I am truly looking forward to witnessing future dance adventures from Aria’s land… -Katarina Blagovic
My interaction with Aria started in 2011 when I was dancing in a piece to the Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker. It was performed at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA, for their Christmas show. I was impressed with the elegance and the beauty of Aria's dance moves. I have also participated in a couple of workshops and now have the pleasure of being part of Rara Avis. There is no doubt that Aria is an incredible dancer. Her performances and workshops clearly show that. What I find very intriguing with Aria is how she mixes and fuses styles, and how that together with her personality creates a very unique artistic expression that not only entertains but also touches your soul. As a teacher, Aria has the ability to see each dancer as an individual and work with each person to bring out the best qualities. She is a warm and understanding person which makes it all the more enjoyable to work with her. I can highly recommend taking classes and workshops with her, and if you get a chance to be part of one of her productions just do it. -Lene Martinsen, Belly dancer from Norway
Aria Michaels Paradise is nothing short of an artist. As a performer of theatrical belly dance, she captures the essence of every character she plays. She is not afraid to go to the dark places or the silly places to get her point across, and she always has a point. Aria has a history with many and various forms of dance and can draw vocabulary from all of them to create a single unique experience. As a director, she knows exactly what she wants and is more than happy to explore many avenues to get there. Aria is patient but firm, and professional in every way. As a teacher, she would probably cast off that label. She would probably go with "guide." And that is exactly the role she plays in her workshops, guiding her students to find their own truths through exercises, stimuli, visual media, and conversation, instead of imposing her own truth on them. If you ever get the chance to work with her in any capacity, fellow performer or student, I highly suggest you take it. - Jackie Weatherbee
Aria performs: I first saw Aria perform about 4 years ago, when I first started my Belly Dance journey and remember her performance today; a character-driven piece with props; a set; a little piece of theater that could have been moved right from the hall to a prescenium stage. Each of Aria's performances is different yet each deeply developed, and delivered with commitment and passion. The small audience in a local bar or yoga studio workshop would get the same intensity from Aria as she'd give to an audience on the Paris Opera stage.
Aria creates: Flash forward one year to Alchemy, Original pieces written by Aria for her ABRAXAS Dance Company, that 2 years later makes the hairs on my arms stand up; formations, textile, sound, light, shadow, story, technique, multi-dimensional, timeless, thought provoking, dream-like; a work of of art. As an artist she pulls from unexpected depths.
Aria teaches: As a spectator I'd been drawn to her aesthetic, then in 2013 she launched MUSE, a series of workshops in which dancers could experiment with different sources of inspiration: art, sound, meditation, character work and then perform an original, piece for which you'd submitted a creative proposal. I was nervous; I'd considered myself a folkloric and ATS dancer, plus I knew that Aria was a belly dancer who was also a ballerina with incredible pointe technique and …but I was drawn by that word: 'theater'. By day we danced, pored over art books in a circle on the floor, or improvised with a bouncy ball and a partner you'd never met, or closed our eyes and listened to music. By night we watched as fellow artists performed theatrical fusion pieces, then performed ourselves. Especially unique: after each performance Aria engaged the audience and artist in dialogue about the piece. MUSE quickly became sacred Sundays for me; sometimes scary journeys out of my comfort zone but in a nurturing and safe environment with a patient, nurturing teacher who finds true joy in watching others grow into their art. I still and will always study and perform ATS and folkloric Belly Dance and as a 3-time MUSE participant, 2-time performer at Belly Dance Underground (a monthly theatrical Belly Dance collaboration between Aria and Leilah Luna in JP) and now a proud ABRAXAS Company member, I look forward to to dancing along this theatrical path with Aria as well. ~ Fermosa (Lauren Shamitz-Crooks)
I first met Aria at a photo shoot. I was immediately impressed by her professionalism and work ethic. Soon after that I was fortunate to see her perform. She projected a passion, grace, and intensity that was unique to all the (many) dance performances that I’d seen.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a front row seat to see develop as a dancer, choreographer, event producer, and workshop instructor. I’ve seen her perform many times up and down the east and west coast of America and in Canada. She brings meticulous preparation, innovative choreography, creative costuming, and a commitment to the audience that represents the highest levels of her craft.
I’ve also attended all of her events. From Alchemy to Paradox, Revelations, Muse. and her monthly series Belly Dance Underground, co-produced with Leilah Dance. Each one has introduced a new level of artistry and dedication.
Aria is focused, hard working and brilliantly creative. ~ Peter Paradise Michaels