Michelle M Kinney

Photo of Michelle M Kinney

Contact Me


Theatre Arts and Dance
202 Barbara Barker Center
500 21st Avenue South


Cellist and Composer Michelle Kinney is a dedicated and lifelong improviser, who has passionately pursued her interest in non-traditional contexts for the cello, including deep collaborations with musicians of non- western cultural traditions. Michelle is part of the faculty of the University of Minnesota Dance Program, and serves as Musician in Residence, accompanying class and managing the musician staff. This constant collaborative work with dance has led to the evolution of Michelle’s very specific and idiomatic musicianship that mines kinesthetic impulse and gut response, supported by a foundation of disciplined classical training. In recognition of her artistic work as a composer, Michelle has received awards and grants from New Music USA, The Bush Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, McKnight Foundation, NEA/Rockefeller, Meet the Composer, Harvestworks/Studio Pass, The American Composers Forum, and Minnesota State Arts Board. Michelle earned a BA from Northwestern University, focusing on cello performance, composition and ethnomusicology/jazz studies (w/Paul Berliner). Returning to the Twin Cities, she spent 10 years composing and performing in Dance, Theater, Film and various performing ensembles, before moving to NYC for graduate school at NYU where she earned an MA in Performance Studies. Michelle spent 13 years in the downtown NYC music scene, and has worked with some of the most respected innovators in new music, including Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Jason Hwang, Brandon Ross, Myra Melford, Mary Ellen Childs, Bun Ching Lam, Shi-Zheng Chen, Fast Forward and John Zorn. Michelle performs frequently with the cello/drum quartet Jelloslave, who recently released their second album “Purple Orange”. She is co-founder and co-artistic director of a new music orchestra in the Twin Cities, called The Cherry Spoon Collective. Michelle enjoys several collaborations with Twin Cities luminaries, such as Nirmala Rajasekar, Prudence Johnson, Gao Hong, Dean Magraw, and with her husband, composer and guitarist Chris Cunningham in the “micro orchestra” Mississippi Peace. She collaborates as a composer for dance and theater, notably with Kevin Kling & Michael Sommers, Paula Mann’s Time Track Productions, Stuart Pimsler Dance Theater, Carl Flink and BLM, Ananya Dance Theater, Laurie Van Weiren’s B-Specifics, and Seattle’s Khambatta Dance.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

Curriculum Vitae