The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - 22

the gist

The Dancing
Lumberjack:
Living the Dream
When Will Smith and his wife, Caitlin, landed jobs
with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre, he thought their
prayer was answered. Then COVID-19 struck and he
remembered his great-grandfather.

22

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

ABOVE: Will, Caitlin

Caitlin had begun teaching Pilates on the side and
and Lucy Smith:
loved the exciting classes with a range of men and
"Being a ballet
women students. Meanwhile, Will got a job teaching dancer feeds my
soul but not my
ballroom dancing, but everything fell apart except the
pocketbook."
tree work with COVID-19.
"As I did more and more of [the tree work], I really began to not just
enjoy it, but love it. The first time I climbed a tree, I felt that fear, that
pressure. That little voice that tells you to quit was screaming in my head.
I took a breath, dug deep and continued climbing, and I knew this was
something I could do."
As a theatrical guy, Will "created The Dancing lumberjack as a business
[phone: 410-972-1039] and as a character. My great-grandfather was a
lumberjack and he was a big, burly man. I'm a skinny ballet dancer, so I
wanted to take two things that seem worlds apart and put them together."
He has started a blog "aiming to make it about dance, trees and
everything in between." His tree work is mostly for homeowners and
small businesses.
Caitlin, who has had to give up her large Pilates class for now, still
teaches one-on-one. She was worried about Will climbing trees with
a chain saw at first, but she finally reasoned that "the risk is about the
same" as ballet, a sport where injury is nearly as common-and often as
severe-as it is in football.
Will speaks for both dancers when he says, "Being a ballet dancer
feeds my soul but not my pocketbook, so my goal is to work towards my
arborist and climbing certification so the dancing lumberjack can feed
my pocketbook."
Meanwhile, Lucy, who was born in May, has been the beneficiary of
the job juggle because she has had a virtually full-time mom and a dad
who gets to spend a good bit of time with her, as well.
Will is philosophical. "With the future of the art of ballet and other
performing arts looking a bit bleak [at least temporarily], I might have
to make the trees my stage for now."			
-DAN SMITH

TheRoanoker.com

DAN SMITH

WILL AND CAITLIN SMITH got what he calls a "once in a
lifetime" opportunity with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre as part of a new
professional ballet company, and there was every reason to believe the
couple was set for the future.
Of course, they hadn't counted on COVID-19. And their daughter
Lucy hadn't come along, either.
Now, however, there's little Lucy, social distancing, masks, a ballet
company on indefinite hold and a couple of new-whether or not
temporary-careers.
Will has become the "Dancing Lumberjack" and Caitlin has fallen
back onto individual Pilates instruction. Both teach a little ballroom
dancing when the opportunity arises.
The Pilates and cutting trees are not really new in the "shiny" sense.
Caitlin has been learning and teaching Pilates for nearly three years, in
addition to her ballet work, and Will's lumberjacking genes go back to
his grandfather.
Will, 33, and Caitlin, 31, met when they were with a ballet company
in D.C., a city with a lifestyle that Will describes as "craziness." Roanoke
looked ideal when the professional ballet positions were open at what
had been a school and "we could get in on the ground floor," he says.
The new ballet group was a challenge. "The first couple years were
super difficult," says Will. "The ballet wasn't getting support as fast as
we thought it would and the company couldn't pay us the wages we
were used to in D.C., so we had to find second jobs. We both started off
teaching dance, but then during the summers when my teaching would
dry up, I would have to find summer work."
Will worked at Ramulose Ridge Vinyards for a couple of summers
"and loved it, but the commute made for very long days." He got a
job with the Holiday Inn as a night auditor, another "brutal schedule."
Then came an opportunity with his friend Jesse Dunker with Alpha and
Omega Tree removal and landscaping. Dunker has served as a mentor
for Will.


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The Roanoker - September/October 2020

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