October 27, 2020 News & Features » Cover Story

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Maggie Small, 35 

Master Class Teacher and Grant Specialist at Richmond Ballet

click to enlarge feat44_maggiesmall2.jpg

Scott Elmquist

You may remember the striking and eloquent photo of ballet dancer Maggie Small on the cover of the trade publication Dance Magazine. The former hometown star spent 16 seasons at the Richmond Ballet before retiring in 2019, which included highlights such as touring to London and China and performing with master dancer Carmen de Lavallade at the Lincoln Center.

Now she’s taking what she learned and helping future generations of dancers, partly as a master ballet teacher in schools around Virginia, and also through her day job as a grant specialist with the ballet.

Small had the opportunity to teach full-time after retiring but wanted to continue working as a full-time grants specialist within an organization that she knows very well, having been involved in every ballet program growing up. So instead she began teaching master classes intermittently at schools in Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Emporia and Richmond, as a supplemental program to what teachers there are doing.

“I realized that ballet doesn’t get the same love other genres of dance do, so I’ve focused my classes on helping kids appreciate and love ballet,” she says. “Make it accessible in a way that’s easy to understand.”

She once heard a statement from Virginia Johnson, artistic director of Dance Theatre of Harlem, that struck a chord with her: [paraphrasing]: “Ballet as an institution and ballet as an art are different things, and she hoped they come together in a way that speaks to the universality of dancing.”

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