Maggie Small Richmond Ballet – Dance Magazine

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Recently in rehearsal there was a point where time just stood still. We were working on the wedding step of The Sleeping Beauty, and I became completely oblivious to the visitors who had come to watch. I even ignored the attentive gaze of my ballet master. All I knew at the time was the happiness of being entwined with the music, the choreography and my partner. For a few counts, I spent a while on another plane.


For me, dancing is the only experience that creates fleeting moments of unprecedented joy. Although they only happen intermittently, when they do, the world seems to be in perfect balance. Everything comes together and the stress associated with the endless pursuit of perfection improves. It is magic.

Sometimes such a moment happens on stage, shared with an audience. Other times there is a flash of glory in rehearsal or in the classroom when everything seems right. Those moments, where surrender converges with control, are what inspires me to return to the studio every day.

Petit in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Soleau. Photo by Sarah Ferguson, courtesy Richmond Ballet.

As a student, I always told myself that if dancing ever became a mundane job, I wouldn’t pursue it anymore. The point is, the dance is entirely repetitive, requiring hard work. Outside of the studio, he dictates a dedicated lifestyle in order to perform at an optimal level of performance at all times. Inside the studio, he commands an incredible discipline of mind and body. Dance requires thoughtful and incredible engagement as well as remarkable resilience.

Almost paradoxically, it also requires that a dancer live in the moment, be present and fully engaged in engaging with the moving world. While we may strive to meet all of these demands at all times, we often fail in our attempts. However, on rare occasions when everything aligns, all the work comes to fruition in an unparalleled enchanted moment. It is the reward that we get for giving ourselves entirely to our art.


Small in “Carmina Burana” by John Butler. Photo by Sarah Ferguson, courtesy Richmond Ballet.

In these magical moments, the pressures and complexities of professional dance disappear. For a splendid stretch of time in this rehearsal of The Sleeping Beauty, everything was pure and simple.


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