Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company Builds Vibrant Contemporary Dances To Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Challenges Attributed To Mixed Heritage.

BASE Resident Spotlight: Introducing Danielle Smith

Author Shari Baldie

At PUSH Dance Company, we are committed to giving BIPOC artists a platform. Our BASE (BIPOC Artist Sanctuary & Enrichment) Residency allows members to showcase their artistry, connect, and grow. This year’s BASE Residents are a diverse group of artists who specialize in a variety of genres from contemporary ballet and Afrobeats to bharatanatyam and Filipino folk dance. Learn more about these five residents in our BASE Interview series.

1PM & 3PM

Caption: Danielle Smith

Meet Danielle Smith. As a child, she was influenced by how dance brings people together. Today this Ohio native uses movement to connect with others in a variety of dance styles. 

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Dance/Movement style(s):  Afrobeats, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Step

What inspired you to start teaching/choreographing?

My mom danced for a Senegalese African dance company when I was young. I loved how communal the movement and music was; and I was intrigued by their process of coming together to pass down traditions, express themselves, and witness each other in a creative way. 

What led you to the BΛSE Residency program?  

The BASE Residency is unique in the fact that it is a sanctuary for BIPOC artists. I immediately knew that my voice, art, and lived-experiences would not only be respected but understood.

What do you enjoy about choreographing and/or teaching dance? 

I enjoy being in community with others. Whether in a classroom or in a rehearsal, there is magic in the vulnerability that comes with being seen and encouraged by others when moving in your body. For me dancing is all about the process of connecting with others through movement and not about the best end product or highest kick. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue this type of career?

Two C’s are essential for this type of work. 

The first is consistency. Showing up everyday for your body and your creative self is so important. Even on the days when you don’t feel like it – actually, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it — it’s important that you consistently take different technique classes, support other dancer’s work by attending shows, and take care of your body. 

The second C is confidence. You need to understand your “why” and convince yourself that your “why” is worth the hardship and uncomfortability that comes with being an artist in the Bay Area. Once you convince yourself, nobody else will be able to discourage you.

Connect with Danielle Smith:

Instagram: @dsmithdance

Websiite: danielletaylorsmith.com