‘I want to do this for the rest of my life;’ Local instructor teaches art through dance

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Cotton said his passion for dance is intertwined with his faith in God

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It all started with a talent show when Michael A. Cotton was just 10 years old. He told his mom he wanted to dance. 

“I did the talent show, I won third place, and right after that, I told my mom, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.’ Not knowing that I would literally be walking and talking into the existence of what my life would actually be,” Cotton said.

Since then, that’s exactly what he’s done. 

Cotton is now a dance instructor at Ballet Western Reserve Dance Studio in Youngstown. A former student there, he wants to use his passion and craft to help teach others.

“Don’t compare yourself to nobody else, because you are enough. You are more than enough,” he told his class Saturday.

Cotton says dance is a form of expression for him.

“Not only is it therapeutic, but it’s a story, you tell a story. You become the artist, you paint the canvas. You know, and for me, dance has always been an expression of life for me. It’s always been my go to… I use my body as my instrument,” he said. “The goal is not to just dance. It’s not a moment, but it’s a movement, I want you to be healed in the process, I want you to learn about yourself. I want you to build integrity, character, faith.”

Cotton said his passion for dance is intertwined with his faith in God.

“I wouldn’t even be in the position that I’m in right now. I would not be at Ballet Western Reserve being a musical teacher, you know, and being able to do what I love to do every single day. My faith is everything; without my faith I am nothing,” Cotton said.

Cotton has performed in plays and shows in Youngstown, including “The Nutcracker.” 

He encourages anyone interested in dancing to reach out to him or to the dance studio where he offers classes. You can do that by visiting the studio’s website. 

“I’m very just grateful that I’m even being able to do what I love to do every single day,” he said.

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