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Pittsburgh CAPA graduate accepted to world-renowned dance company

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Jau’mair Garland grew up in Mt. Washington, and began his journey in dance one summer at the local YMCA. He became fascinated with dance while watching his younger sister learn, and quickly became a part of the GMK School of Dance.

Garland, 20, joined Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts school (CAPA) in eighth grade and received classical training. Since then, he’s been involved in numerous companies, programs, and camps, the most notable of which is his recent admission to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He’s making the move during his junior year at University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the middle of the Ailey season.

While working with the troupe, Garland said he hopes to build his choreographic voice, with specific emphasis on his presentation of women in dance.

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“I always think about and look back on previous works that I’ve choreographed and there's a very strong common theme that I have which is my experience with Black women in my life,” Garland said. “I think that stems from me coming from a single-mom household and having that experience growing up with a single mom. I think that really shows up in my work a lot and how I like to highlight women in general.”

The Ailey company completed their New York City Center season last month and will begin their national tour next week. James Washington Manning, the Dance Department chair at Pittsburgh CAPA and a former teacher of Garland’s, said it’s rare for a dancer to be brought in mid-season.

“I think allowing him to be put in a situation where he has to be so versatile is allowing you to grow no matter what. It takes you out of your comfort zone, not just doing exactly what you know,” said Manning.

Manning said since graduating from CAPA, Garland has returned to his alma mater to teach a masterclass for middle school dancers as part of a performance called Celebrating Black Dance.

Garland is one of two Pittsburgh natives currently in the Ailey company. James Gilmer joined the company in 2019, and is an alumni of both Pittsburgh CAPA and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. Ailey's 2023 North American tour will also include “Are You in Your Feelings?”, the work of choreographer Kyle Abraham, another CAPA grad. Garland will join Gilmer for that show, performing “Revelations.”

Corrected: January 30, 2023 at 1:17 PM EST
This story was updated to clarify information around the Pittsburgh natives currently working in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and to correct the ending date of their last season in New York.