Garrett Smith takes his partner in an off-kilter balance with sly confidence and firm authority. This makes sense: It’s his own piece, one of many he has created while at Houston Ballet II, where he is also a dancer. Clear lines and bold dynamics earned him a coveted spot at HB II, and they are the same qualities he infuses into his edgy dances. Whether he’s adding a change that makes a lift pop or continuously tweaking a step, Garrett is all about shaking up the status quo. A stickler for details, he demands a lot from his fellow company members. “When I have an idea, I’m clear about what I want,” he says.
For two years Garrett has been doing double duty, choreographing for the Spring Academy Showcase and the American Festival for the Arts collaboration during the summer Academy workshop, as well as creating several solos for the Youth America Grand Prix competition. And that’s in addition to his daily life with the company as a dancer. “I’ve been given so much support from the artistic staff here,” says Garrett. “I’ve been encouraged to find my own language. I seek movement that has never been seen before.”
Case in point; He recently returned from a company tour of Budapest, Hungary, where his new quartet, Den III, received multiple curtain calls.
On top of being a respected creator, Garrett has earned accolades as a dancer, too. At 17, he was named a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Presidential Scholar. Meeting the president and Mikhail Baryshnikov, receiving a cash prize of $3,000 and dancing at the Kennedy Center were memorable moments for him. Then, after winning a scholarship to the Ben Stevenson Academy at HB in 2006, Garrett made the HB II company in 2007, and he’s been there ever since.
Trying to both dance and choreograph is accompanied by difficulties, though. With a mind always searching for novelty, 19-year-old Garrett has been caught more than once trying out new steps in class. Dancing in his own work isn’t easy either. “It’s hard to be the paint on the canvas and the artist at the same time,” he says.
Known for his eclectic vocabulary, Garrett bounced between ballet and jazz during his training. He started at age 9 with jazz and tap at a neighborhood dance studio in his hometown of Salt Lake City, UT. “I thought ballet was dumb and girly at the time,” he remembers. “But then, after some wise people suggested I try ballet, my opinion changed radically.” He went on to spend three years at Utah Regional Ballet, but missed modern and jazz too much. So he took a year off to dance with Odyssey Dance Theatre II. Meanwhile, summer programs at School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet kept his classical training on course.
Garrett is also no stranger to the competition circuit: He won the National Junior Outstanding Dancer at 13 and the National Teen Male Outstanding Dancer at 16 at the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA). He credits NYCDA director Joe Lanteri as a key mentor. “That competition was my dance home. Joe inspired me to keep dancing and looking for my dream job,” says Garrett.
As his time with HB II draws to a close, Garrett contemplates several options. He’s considering auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance,” and would like to join another company that will nurture his talent.
On top of it all, he is at yet another threshold in his personal life. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), Garrett is contemplating going on a mission, the traditional path for a young LDS member. “If I’m going to do it, it needs to be soon. I’m a dancer and a human being, and service is really important to me,” he says. “I know I’ll have a long time to be a choreographer.”
Photo: Amitava Sarkar
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.