The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the arts. “Dancers depend on theater. Everything we do requires an audience,” said Garrett Smith, world renowned choreographer and associate director of Chrysalis Ballet, a new professional ballet company in Lehi. Jennie Creer-King, owner and artistic director of Central Utah Ballet in Lehi, Utah, and director of Chrysalis Ballet has spent the last year creating opportunities for college dancers and professionals to continue to train and perform during quarantine.
“The idea of Chrysalis Ballet developed over the past year as I have offered free professional ballet classes at Central Utah Ballet to dancers unable to pursue work or other professional dance opportunities due to COVID-19,” said Creer-King. “The joy of having these beautiful artists in my classes ignited my desire to direct a professional ballet company.”
Chrysalis Ballet Company is a professional project-based ballet company providing rigorous and innovative dance training methods and creative professional-level performance opportunities. Company dancers will gain exposure to creative processes through new original works while fine-tuning foundational and historical classical ballets. Chrysalis Ballet company will explore multimedia performance platforms, including film, live music, and pop-up mini performances across the state.
Auditions for Chrysalis Ballet will take place during a week of auditions June 2-5 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Those interested in joining the auditions may submit a resume and headshot to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Dance is a very specialized field. If dancers aren’t constantly training, they won’t be able to find work,” Creer-King explained. When theaters and schools all over the world closed in March 2020, Creer-King continued to teach classes on Zoom for about six months. Utah County opened much earlier than the rest of the country and Creer-King had dancers back in the studio practicing in masks and social distanced, but safe.
“These college dancers are graduating in a competitive field, and they send out hundreds of resumes. Last year no one was getting auditions because everything closed down. It was hard to see those students struggle after years of hard work. I really wanted to do something to create opportunities for these amazing professionals,” said Creer-King. She opened her Central Utah Ballet studio during the day to professional dancers for free during quarantine.
Garrett Smith was three weeks into choreographing a project in Bordeaux, France, when everything shut down in March 2020. Smith is based in Barcelona, Spain, and has worked all over the world, but grew up in Utah. He was Creer-Smith’s student when he was 11 years-old. “I love Jennie. She’s always been a great mentor to me, and I could feel her confidence in me right from the beginning,” said Smith.
Smith will be choreographing the first project for Chrysalis Ballet. “We’ll be creating together. We start from zero and just start moving and building ideas. I’m still looking for the right music. When I love the music, I do my best and I know it will be great,” he said. Garrett Smith has also started online courses at boon.tv/garrett-smith-choreography.
Jennie Creer-King sees a bright future for artists and performers coming out of the pandemic, but she also thinks it will be different than it was before. “We need to choose what we want our future to be. It comes from a personal mindset and thinking outside the box. I think the future is in smaller studios without the huge expenses and red tape doing local performances. It will be years before we really see the effects the pandemic will have on dance,” said Creer-King.