Upon invitation Mrs. Smith was privileged to teach at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in June of 2007 during a Teachers’ Seminar and the Vaganova Prix. She was honored with a certificate verifying her teaching at the Academy and received a teacher’s certificate in the Vaganova Ballet Method. She was the only non-Russian to participate in the teachers’ seminar.
Her international networking began in 1995 with designing an exchange between Greater Lansing Ballet and the Gdansk Polish State Ballet School. In 1996 after having traveled to St. Petersburg she began collaborating with the Dean of Faculty at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. This relationship has continued for the past 11 years benefiting students at the Academy.
Ms. Smith, a master teacher with 38 years teaching experience, founded Academy of Dance Arts in 1984. She performed professionally with the Milwaukee Ballet Company under the artistic direction of Jury Gottshalks, Myron H. Nadel and Lupe Serrano, the Operetta Carnival Ballet under the artistic direction of Zachary Solov, and the Limon Dance Company in which she was soloist in “Concerto Grosso”. She received a BFA degree in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her MA degree in dance from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. She studied ballet at the Warsaw Ballet/Opera and Polish ethnic dances at the University of Maria Curie Sklodowski in Lublin, Poland. Her teaching positions have included the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Illinois, Michigan State University, Olivet College, Albion College and a year as artist in residence in Oslo, Norway. During her eight year tenure at Michigan State University she directed and choreographed for the MSU Repertory Dance Company, directed the Lecture Demonstration Team in Schools program, Dance Coordinator 1980-81 and 1982-83, and collaborator in developing the curriculum for the dance major program. Ms. Smith was invited by Regional Dance America to teach a master class during its 2nd National Festival in 2007 in Pittsburgh, PA. As a renowned international ballet mistress, she taught and choreographed at Alexandra Ballet in St. Louis, MO. during the summer of 2008 and in the fall at Interlochen Arts Academy.
In 1990 she was the recipient of the Michigan Dance Teacher of the Year Award. In 1990 as Artistic Director of Academy Ballet Theatre, she was presented a Certificate of Merit from Governor Engler for her outstanding effort and commitment to artistic excellence saluting her creativity and originality in producing “An Evening With Petipa”. In 1997 she was presented a plaque honoring the “Sister City” exchange project between Lansing and St. Petersburg, Russia. She has established international relationships with dance artists by designing one of the first cross cultural exchange programs. She is the recipient of the Governor’s as well as the City of Lansing merit awards for outstanding commitment to culture and fine arts in the Lansing community. She is listed in Who’s Who of Polonia, published in 1993 in Paris, France, Who’s Who of Polish Americans published in 1996 in the USA and in Who’s Who of Polonia published in 2000 in Warsaw, Poland. In April 2000 she was awarded the prestigious Glen Taggart Award for Community Contribution to International Understanding by the MSU International Studies and Programs. Ms. Smith was nominated for this award by Lansing Mayor David Hollister. Ms. Smith is the first Lansing artist to be awarded the Creative Artist grant during the FY2002 from ArtServe in Michigan in conjunction with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs to choreograph her full length ballet, Earth’s Lament. On May 6, 2002 the Lansing City council honored her achievements by presenting her with a proclamation.
Mrs. Smith is a 2009 Community Arts Leadership Academy Fellow sponsored by ArtServe Michigan. She was one of twenty community leaders from across the state who were selected based on their experience and ongoing dedication to community arts programs in their respective regions. She graduated in May, 2009 from the rigorous community arts leadership development program, for which she was awarded a scholarship.