THE idea of the passive female muse inspiring the brilliant male maker conjures all sorts of musty historical images. As the dancer Michelle Boulé said, giggling, “I see the woman sitting, waiting to be painted.” It’s a far cry from the active engagement of contemporary performers, who tend to be deeply involved in the choreographic process.

Ms. Boulé, 35, is one of her generation’s many strong examples of the dancer as artist. She has worked with a Who’s Who of choreographers, including Deborah Hay, John Jasperse, Beth Gill and Donna Uchizono. For the past 12 years she has been chiefly associated with Miguel Gutierrez, anchoring many of his expansive, ambitious dances. Her resonant channeling of James Dean in his “Last Meadow” earned her a 2010 Bessie award.

She has come a long way from her first dance gig in New York, upon graduating from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1999. (She lives in New York, where she is on the faculty at the Eugene Lang College Dance Program at the New School, but is from Illinois.) Then she earned $3 a rehearsal — subway fare, in those days.

Next month Ms. Boulé will appear in Mr. Gutierrez’s new show, “And lose the name of action,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. And she’s branching out. On Dec. 15 she will perform at Dixon Place in a new work by Rosie Goldensohn, whom some New Yorkers have just seen at the Kitchen in Richard Maxwell’s play “Neutral Hero.” Recently Ms. Boulé has begun choreographing herself; a piece is scheduled for Issue Project Room in May.

Claudia La Rocco caught up with the quietly vibrant Ms. Boulé at a restaurant in Brooklyn, where they discussed life on the road and on the stage. These are excerpts from their conversation.

Michelle Boule Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Q. How would you describe your relationship with Miguel?

A. I feel lucky that I met Miguel and have found this place. I feel trust in his work. I think there was something in this last process. He didn’t even finish asking me to do something, and I knew what he wanted. We get each other. When that happens in any kind of relationship, it’s such a relief. I know that from dating. [Laughter.]

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Q. Are you pretty much on the road all the time?

A. It’s a weird thing, that we have to live by traveling. I taught at the New School last year to stay home, and that was good. But social life, sometimes you don’t see your friends for half a year. Travel can be really disorienting. You go to these fantastic places, and there’s a whole other community that develops, especially at festivals. Sometimes you’re seeing those people more than your regular friends. It’s this community of nomads. You go to these places, you teach and share this really intimate time with them, and then you never see them again.

Q, Can you say more about the intimacy of dancing?

A. You have to be in your body. You’re touching people. And there’s something about dance. There’s not a lot of hiding space. Everything is seen. There are so many choices happening inside of a performance. The space inside of a piece is super creative.

Q. You said that you feel “really committed to being a performer.” But it’s also frustrating?

A. I wish New York had more support for performers, or even that being a performer was seen to have validity. That needs to be nurtured. Not everyone wants to be a choreographer.

Q. There’s that hierarchy: If you’re a great dancer, you eventually “graduate” to choreographer.

A. Yeah. I don’t want to follow that just to follow that. I feel very conscious of that: What is essential in what I’m putting out there? I’m working through my own fears about having the work be all me. When I’m performing, it’s all me too, but it’s in a container. Maybe I just have to find the container within my own thinking that makes me feel safe as a dance maker. I used to create when I was a kid. I’d make dances for the talent shows. I remember my sisters would quit. They’d go to my mom and say I was too mean of a director.

Correction: May 19, 2013

An article on Nov. 25 about the dancer and choreographer Michelle Boulé misstated the dates a piece of her choreography will be performed at the Issue Project Room. The performances will be on May 30 and 31; they were not presented in March. The article also misidentified the university where Ms. Boulé teaches. She is on the faculty at the Eugene Lang College Dance Program at the New School, in Manhattan; she is not at the University of Illinois, where she taught for a short while in 2005. (These errors were not pointed out to The Times until last week.)

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