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The Full Story

About Artistic Director

Maia-Claire-Garrison - Valley-Arts-Orange-NJ

Maia Claire Garrison is a dancer, choreographer, entertainer, recording artist, dance on film director, special needs mom and business owner. She began her performance career as a child acrobat with The Big Apple Circus. Raised in the midst of two vibrant artist communities in both New York City and Rome, Italy; upon graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, she toured as a featured dancer/singer/actress throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean with the critically acclaimed Urban Bush Women.

Between 1995-2001, with a desire to hone her skills as a choreographer she founded and directed M’Zawa Danz and was awarded a series of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Along with some of her contemporaries, she played a key role in popularizing the synthesis of modern dance with traditional West African idioms.

Garrison's choreographic works have been presented at Aaron Davis Hall, Artscape 2000, Bennington College, Brooklyn Museum of Art, City College, The Children’s Museum, Central Park Summer Stage, Celebrate Brooklyn, Connecticut College, Dance Place, Dance Space Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Dance On The Square, Florida State University, Gawanus Arts Exchange, Jacob’s Pillow, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, The Manhattan Mall, The Miller Theater, New Jersey City University, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, NYC Technical College, Putnam County Dance Project, Playhouse 91, IS 89, 651 Arts Brooklyn, Rutgers State University, Summer in The Square, SUNY Potsdam University, SOTA (Garth Fagan Dance/Rochester), St. Stephen’s School of Rome, Symphony Space, Syracuse University, Wave Hill, World Trade Center Plaza, Young People’s Performance Festival in NYC and most recently at Barefoot Dance Center's Student Concert, Arts on the Lake 'Taking Flight' performance with Putnam County Dance Project and at the Middlesex College 21st Annual Spring Dance Concert. 


 Photo Credit: Carlos Funn


Former dance faculty at her alma mater Sarah Lawrence College, over the years Garrison worked as a Teaching Artist for The Joyce Theater Education Program, taught an assortment of ongoing classes and master classes at Ballet Tech, Djoniba Dance Drum Center, Florida State University, Manhattanville College, New Jersey City University, SUNY Potsdam University, St. Stephen's School Rome and at the University of Hong Kong.


She most recently worked as a Re-Stager for Urban Bush Women at Five College Dance in Massachusetts, set choreography at Middlesex College in NJ and adjudicated Playhouse Square's Dance Showcase in Cleaveland, Ohio.


In addition to teaching her signature workshops out of her West Orange studio Reel.Dance.Music, Garrison is currently directing and mounting a Movement Arts Program (MAP) at ShapeShifter Lab, co-owned by her brother Matthew Garrison and Fortuna Sung in Brooklyn, NY. 

Reel.Dance.Music strives to nurture creativity, foster growth, bolster professional development, and offer a warm and positive environment that improves quality of life. 

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