Before her final performance this weekend, longtime Richmond Ballet dancer Maggie Small shares her thoughts about a career spent on her toes.
For the season opener of the Richmond Ballet’s 2019-2020 performances, the company presents Contemporary Classics at the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, Friday, September 27 through Sunday, September 29.
Paying homage to some of the ballet’s roots, Contemporary Classics will offer two ballets: “Themes and Variations” by George Balanchine and “Carmina Burana” by John Butler. The program is accompanied by live instrumentation presented by the Richmond Symphony, in tandem with 100 choral singers from the VCU Commonwealth Singers and the Richmond Symphony Chorus.
The 2019-2020 season for the Richmond Ballet is one of many firsts and a few lasts. This season will be the last for company dancer Fernando Sabino. With Contemporary Classics, Richmond Ballet also bids farewell to long-serving company member Maggie Small. After the conclusion of Sunday’s performance of “Carmina Burana,” Small will officially retire from performance and assume a position on the administrative and fundraising side of the nonprofit ballet company.
Before she goes, RVA Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with her and listen to the highlights and takeaways of a distinguished ballerina.
“I’m excited to go out on something that I really care about,” Small said, “and to share that with so many people between the dancers, the artistic staff [of the Richmond Ballet], and soon to be the audiences, I just feel so grateful and supported.”
Small is a Richmonder through and through, having taken advantage of the multiple programs the Richmond Ballet currently has that promote and give opportunity to children who might not get exposure to ballet. She was a student of the School of Richmond Ballet and became an apprentice at 17, while still in high school. After working her way through both professional companies to a principal dancer, Small has accrued notable accolades for her career in ballet, including a cover shoot for DANCE Magazine in 2012.
“What I love about dancing is the way it builds between people,” Small said. “It’s an art that’s handed down from generation. There’s moments where you’re working with a ballet master and they translate how you work with people in the room into dancing. We’re family here, too. If we don’t work together, it just won’t work.”
Small, who could honestly say that ballet is her life, was the first to admit that it’s a hard line of work. There’s mental and physical exhaustion, torn ligaments, and broken bones — but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. The Richmond Ballet offered her a home when she was just five years old, and it will continue to be her home as she steps away from her principal role into a development role writing grants for the nonprofit. Who better to tell the story of the ballet than its own ballerina?
You can come say “thank you” to Maggie Small this weekend only at the Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7pm, and the Sunday show starts at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased on Richmond Ballet’s website.
Top Photo: Dancers of Richmond Ballet in Carmina Burana by John Butler. Richmond Ballet 2019. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.