Michelle Koppl is a Colorado native who began her dance training at an early age. She trained primarily in classical ballet, attending summer programs including the American Ballet Theater and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in New York City. In 2013, she was awarded a full scholarship to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow for six weeks through the US State Department’s National Security Language Initiative. Michelle continued her dance education at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received her B.F.A in Dance and Choreography in May of 2018. During her time at VCU Michelle performed in work by faculty Melanie Richards, guest artist Ching-I Bigelow, and many student works. She performed in student works presented at the 2015 Richmond Dance Festival, and at the 2017 American College Dance Association’s Mid-Atlantic South Conference.


In the spring of her sophomore year, she studied in Paris, France through the University of South Florida’s Dance in Paris Program. There she developed her choreographic voice through workshops with outstanding artists including Nathalie Pubellier, Christine Gérard, Maurice Causey, and Nadine Beaulieu. She premiered her work Impetuosity, at the 2017 VCU Dance Student Concert. In addition to creating works for the stage, she is interested in exploring dance film and site-specific work. Her films Stuck and calm/pound have been included in the VCU Amendment Film Festival as well as the VCU Dance NOW Concert. In 2018 she presented an immersive four-channel video installation, A Bloop in the Park, at The Anderson Gallery. Michelle has presented two original works as a part of 1708 Gallery’s InLight exhibition, Phosphorescence (2017) and Avulsion (2018), both outdoor performances. Her newest work, A Solo for 206 Performers, was included in the 2019 Richmond Dance Festival, the Small Plates Choreography Festival, and the Ascending Choreographer's Showcase. Most recently she performed as a company member with the RVA Dance Collective for the 2018/2019 season.

Photo of Michelle Koppl by Paul Gordon Emerson

Photo courtesy of Paul Gordon Emerson

Michelle Koppl in rehearsal

Artist Statement

Michelle Koppl’s choreographic work explores natural and unnatural phenomena. With an emphasis on research, her works have investigated the inevitability of natural events through continuous, cyclical movement, and studied the lives and decay of radioactive particles. Koppl’s work in dance film explores themes of personal identity, isolation, and choice. Her films and site-specific works take place in spaces not traditionally used for dance, including outdoors.


Michelle’s choreographic process prioritizes collaboration with her dancers, who create their own movement through improvisation and specific prompts and imagery. She seeks to achieve her choreographic goal for each work through repetition and the development of a small movement vocabulary.