Read our Q&A with Kyle Garrison Shawell, Charlotte Ballet Academy faculty member!

Check out our chat with Academy faculty member Kyle Garrison Shawell! Kyle teaches Jazz at the Academy. We asked him about his experiences teaching and dancing, and he shares a fantastic story about performing his favorite role ever. Read the rest below!

Advice for young dancers?
Do not worry about what other dancers are doing. Find your dancing voice because it is what makes you Special and Unique!

Why do you love teaching?
I love teaching because it is a pleasure to watch young dancers come into their own. In the beginning, you struggle to learn basic dance terminology, and then after much practice, you are able to soar into the sky. It makes me feel proud that I was allowed to be a part of their journey.

What inspires you?
With my background in dance, my inspiration comes from many different things. I love music from Led Zepplin to Jazz and everything in between. Music for me is what helps me choreograph even when I am not trying to say anything. I find myself listening to certain songs and see movement.

Teachers or choreographers that influenced you the most?
• University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA
• Milton Myers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Mr. Myers was a quiet teacher but challenging. Suppose you were struggling with something that he was trying to teach. He would talk to you for a while and then not say anything to you. Being the kind of student that I was, I wanted feedback. After a while, I got the nerve to ask him what I was doing work. He said, “Son, I can ask you to do any shape in the Horton technique, and you can show me. But that is where it stops! I need to see you still move outside of that shape.” I know this might sound simple, but it changed how I danced from then on.
• Ruth Adrien of the Paul Taylor Company: Ruthie, as we called her, was such a free spirit in class. Her energy was contagious. She taught us without it feeling like we were actually in dance class. It was amazing to be her student and discover that we were from the same tiny little town in Pennsylvania where there was no dance, and she found her way out to dance for this world-renowned company. So, I knew then that there were possibilities to this dance thing.

Favorite role to dance? “Snow Pas de deux for the Valley Forge Dance Theatre is one of my favorite memories. Ms. Atkinson was our director. She wanted to see what my partner Charity and I would come up with for the Pas. As I remember, Ms. Atkinson did not give us any limitations. She said CREATE. I had never choreographed a ballet before in my life. So, Charity and I would meet at the studio on our own to practice. I had never really done any lifts before and wanted to make sure that we had one. After much practice, we worked out a one-handed lift that I could walk around the stage with her high in the air. The one thing about this Pas was that we performed it in the round. As Charity and I danced, the stage rotated in a complete circle the whole time we danced while the snow fell upon us. Being the Snow King was my first real introduction to performing ballet on this level.”

Kyle’s closing thoughts: “Stay focused! It might not come to you when you think it should, but eventually, it will come! I am proof of this. I would have never thought I would be where I am now. Surrounded by such amazing young talent and Loving It!!”