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maia-claire-  garrison

Photo by  Carlos Funn 

was raised in the midst of two vibrant artist communities in both New York City and Rome, Italy. Her father is the late Jimmy Garrison, legendary Jazz bassist and longtime member of the world-renowned John Coltrane Quartet. Her mother Roberta Escamilla Garrison, founder of the dance department at St. Stephen's School Rome, is a prominent Italy-based choreographer.  

Garrison started in childhood as a competitive gymnast. A gold medalist on each apparatus, at age 10 she was discovered by The Big Apple Circus. For two years she studied circus arts and joined The Back Street Flyers’ circus act, performing and touring as a child acrobat.

After her father’s untimely passing, her family relocated to Rome, Italy where she continued to compete nationally as a gymnast. Shortly thereafter, she made the transition from gymnastics to dance, and at age fifteen joined her first professional dance troupe Afro Danza. Company director Bob Curtis, along with her mother Roberta Escamilla Garrison were her most influential dance mentors. 




Maia Claire Garrison, Karin Bacon Events

Upon graduating from St. Stephen’s School Rome, she was accepted to Sarah Lawrence College, where she furthered her studies in Dance Education, Health & Physical Education, Choreography and Performance Production.

Maia Claire Garrison_M'Zawa Danz
Maia Caire Garrison, M'Zawa Danz

Now holding a Bachelor of Arts degree, she went on to tour throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America working as a dancer, singer, actress, with the critically acclaimed Urban Bush Women directed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.  In '95 with a desire to hone her skills as a choreographer she founded M’Zawa Danz. Along with some of her contemporaries, she played a key role in popularizing the synthesis of modern dance with traditional West African idioms.

Photo Credit: George Larkins
M'Zawa Danz

Between 1995-2001, M’Zawa Danz was presented at reputable venues such as Aaron Davis Hall, Bennington College, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, City Center, New York City College, Central Park Summer Stage, Celebrate Brooklyn, Connecticut College, Dance Space Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Florida State University, Jacob’s Pillow, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Miami Dade College, The Miller Theater, New Jersey City University, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Playhouse 91, 651 Arts, Rutgers State University, Sarah Lawrence College, St. Stephen's School Rome, SUNY Potsdam University, Symphony Space, Syracuse University, Wave HillThe World Trade Center Plaza and most recently at Arts on the Lake (Putnam County Dance Project) and at the Middlesex College 21st Annual Spring Dance Concert.



In 2010 she gave birth to Salif Alessandro Trinn. At age 3 her son was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That same year, she enrolled in the School Health Education program at New Jersey City University, while also working as a Teaching Artist for The Joyce Theater Dance Education Program. While pursuing a Master of Science in Health Sciences, she took various courses in Special Education to better understand her son's neurological uniqueness.

Awarded a series of Artist Grants and Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Garrison choreographed, produced and staged multi-disciplinary dance performances, wrote music and co-produced studio recordings often collaborating with her two siblings, ShapeShifter Lab owner/bassist Matthew Garrison, distinguished Jazz vocalist Joy Garrison and brother in-law Fabrizio Aiello. All widely respected and internationally acclaimed artists in their own right. 

In 2014, while living in Altamonte Springs, Florida she taught at O2B Kids Altamonte, and earned a certification in Dance K-12 from the Florida Department of Education, along with certificates in Child Growth and Development (CGDR), Culturally Competent Nursing Care (CCNC), Health, Safety and Nutrition (HSAN), and Special Needs Appropriate Practices (SNP)

Sequence of Leaps Logo by Joshua Diaz

Committed to developing instructional programs that cater to children on the Autism spectrum, in 2017 she founded Sequence of LeapsThe following year in collaboration with Speech Innovations of Central Florida she launched A Berry Special Day, an Immersive Educational Event for Children with Autism.  Among other creative endeavors Garrison continues to do this work out of her dance studio Reel. Dance. Music.


Other projects include directing and crafting choreography driven music videos, song writing and recording with her brother Matthew Garrisonco-producing Dance In'Formation, a Dance Master Class/Speaker Series in collaboration with Jessie Levey, Director at Barefoot Dance Center, as well as teaching classes and curating community outreach events and workshops at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn, NY and at her studio in West Orange, NJ.




Maia Claire Garrison

Artistic Director

555 Valley Road

Dance Studio 3 - 2nd Floor

West Orange, NJ 07052


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