Michael trained in dance and theatre at Dartington College and in 1992 was awarded a bursary by the Arts Council to attend dance lighting workshops with Jennifer Tipton in New York.
Over the last 20 years Michael has worked exclusively in dance, particularly with choreographer Russell Maliphant, and established a reputation as a “choreographer of light”. Their collaborations have won international critical acclaim and many awards: Sheer won a Time Out Award for Outstanding Collaboration, Choice won a South Bank Show Dance Award, PUSH, with Sylvie Guillem, won four major awards including the Olivier for Best New Dance Production and AfterLight won two Critics Circle awards.
Michael and Russell also collaborated on Broken Fall, commissioned by BalletBoyz, which also featured Sylvie Guillem and won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. Fallen, their most recent work for BalletBoyz, won the 2014 Critics Circle Award for Best Modern Choreography. In 2007, Michael and Russell’s work was the subject of BalletBoyz’s Channel 4 documentary Light and Dance and The Daily Telegraph hailed their collaboration as “possibly the most important creative partnership in modern British dance”. Eonnagata, Michael’s collaboration with Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant, for which Michael won the 2009 Knight of Illumination Award for Dance, opened at Sadler’s Wells and, along with AfterLight, led to Michael being nominated for a second Knight of Illumination Award and for the 2010 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.
Michael has worked over many years with the choreographer Akram Khan, including on his full length solo DESH, winner of the 2012 Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production and the 2012 TMA Outstanding Achievement in Dance Award. Most recently, he lit Until The Lions, Akram’s highly acclaimed Mahabarata inspired trio. He has also worked with the dancers and choreographers Laurie Booth, Jonathan Burrows, Meg Stuart, Liam Scarlett, Gemma Nixon, Jonathan Goddard and Javier de Frutos and with ballet companies in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Norway and the US, as well as in the UK.
In 2009 Michael became an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells, in 2010 his contribution to dance was recognised with his entry into the Oxford Dictionary of Dance and in 2014 Michael received the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.
In 2016 Michael created LightSpace an installation at Sadler’s Wells and the first ever presentation on the main stage there without any dancers or performers. He was also awarded a second Knight of Illumination Award for Dance for Conceal/Reveal, his and Russell’s 20th anniversary collaboration.
Michael lives in London with his partner Liz and her three daughters, Lili, Pip and Catherine.