Meet Roanoke’s dancing lumberjack


Roanoke, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke professional ballet dancer and choreographer, Will Smith has moved all over the United States to pursue his passions of dancing. His zest for pirouettes and plies all started when he was a young boy living in Camden, New York.

“I started off in karate and then they said, ‘take ballet to make your karate better’, so I took ballet and I kind of fell more in love with ballet than the karate.”

Will Smith, Professional Ballet Dancer and Choreographer

Not only did Will fall in love with ballet, but he’s also very good at it. Ballet has taken Will to eight cities.

It was in Manassas, Virginia that romance bloomed with fellow performer and dance partner, Caitlin. The perfect couple formed and they quickly realized that if they were going to start a family someday they’d prefer to head south.

“Roanoke Valley theater had like one or two company professional dancers and when we came down here we were like, ‘we want to help build it’ and they wanted to build it into a bigger company so we were sort of the first generation of dancers.”

Will Smith, Professional Ballet Dancer and Choreographer

The couple did exactly that. The Roanoke Ballet Theatre is their home away from home and ballet has been the epicenter of their lives together… until a little someone stole the show.

“We just felt like yes, we’re doing it, we’re stable, let’s have a kid so we found out Lucy was on her way and then all of a sudden, the pandemic, and we woke up one morning and the ballet was closed.”

Will Smith, Professional Ballet Dancer and Choreographer

Will and Caitlin found themselves in a bit of a bind. The Roanoke Ballet Theatre was closed and they had a baby on the way. They needed to be financially prepared and Will knew he had to find work. During his search efforts, a board member of the ballet introduced Will to her husband, a professional arborist with a tree service company.

Will went from being on stage to into a tree with a chainsaw and found that grace and grit are actually a fit.

“Like that first time I was on stage, that adrenaline, that being in the now, same thing when you’re in a tree because you can look at a tree all day but until you’re in that tree and you’re in the moment and you have to make those decisions, it’s just like ballet, like those moments of just pure awareness, pure fear almost… but that’s what makes it kind of amazing is that you can’t mess up.”

Will Smith, Professional Ballet Dancer and Choreographer

Caitlin says it was a huge deal when the job opportunity came about but she was also worried about the potential dangers of the job.

“I was definitely nervous that he could hurt himself and either that he would be alone on the job, or something would happen if he fell out of a tree. There’s a chainsaw hanging off of him.”

Caitlin Smith, Professional Dancer

Sometimes dancing through life can be dangerous but having the right partner will keep you on your toes.

Will is choreographing a piece in the Roanoke Ballet Theatre’s upcoming Black Box Series, a jazzy number called, “Piques on Patrol.” Caitlin will be performing in the upcoming show. To learn more about the production, click here. To follow the Dancing Lumberjack’s adventures, click here.

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