Honorary Degree

Michelle Dorrance

Doctor of Arts

Michelle Dorrance

Michelle Dorrance is a world-renowned dancer and choreographer. A MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient, she has been described by The New Yorker as “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today.”

Dorrance’s New York-based tap company, Dorrance Dance, aims to honor tap dance’s uniquely beautiful history and tradition while pushing the boundaries of the art form technically, rhythmically, and conceptually. The company is committed to honoring the American roots of tap and its history in the enslaved and immigrant communities of this country. In Dorrance’s own words, “to be a professional tap dancer is to be a historian.”

A native of Chapel Hill and alumna of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, Dorrance has maintained strong connections with the Triangle community. Her company has been featured in Carolina Performing Arts seasons multiple times, including in the award-winning The Blues Project with artist-in-residence Toshi Reagon. In 2022, Dorrance spoke and danced as part of the University’s Eve Marie Carson Lecture Series.

Dorrance is a graduate of New York University and has performed in STOMP, taught at Broadway Dance Center, and guest lectured at universities and dance festivals around the world. Her many awards and honors include the New York Dance and Performance Award (“The Bessie”), Princess Grace Award, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, and Doris Duke Artist Award.

For outstanding accomplishment in dance and choreography, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is pleased to confer on Michelle Dorrance the degree of Doctor of Arts honoris causa.

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