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Coming Full Circle: Dance Professor Got His Start at Community College

Darion Smith, the new dance professor.

When Darion Smith attended a dance concert titled The Hendrix Project, he was mesmerized.

“I had never experienced someone move with so much expression,” he said. “The dancer was conveying so many things in her dance at once. It was spiritual, mysterious, and powerfully executed.”

That same evening, he was invited to study dance at Santa Barbara City College. Fast forward more than 20 years, and Smith is back at community college, this time as the new assistant professor of dance at HCC. He is excited to bring his knowledge and experience into the process of mentoring, guiding, and shaping the next generation of dance artists and educators.

“I began my dance education at a community college, which was a real catalyzing moment in my evolution as a dancer,” he said. “That experience helped me to understand the potential that community college students possess as dancers and I felt that I could serve as an example to my students. It has a good feeling of coming full circle.”

Smith began his professional career with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and continued to diversify his professional credits with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet at Lincoln Center, Buglisi Dance Theatre, New York Theater Ballet, and other professional dance companies. He graduated from the Folkwang University of the Arts in Germany and studied ballet at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow.

In 2007, Smith cofounded Jansuphere Dance Company (JDC) in New York City and became its artistic director. JDC is a platform for collaborative exchanges with award-winning musicians, dancers, and visual artists. After 12 years of professional work, Smith returned to school to earn a masters of fine arts in dance from the University of Oregon.

“Darion brings a wealth of experience to HCC, with an outstanding professional background in performance and choreography,” said Liz Higgins, associate professor of dance. “Combined with his recently completed master of fine arts in dance, Darion has a deep understanding of dance contextualized through a socio-political and historical lens.”

Smith looks forward to the upcoming dance season.

“I am excited to be creating work for two of our three dance program events at the Horowitz Center, the HCC Fall Dance Showcase and the HCC Dance Company,” he said. “I’m in love with the idea of watching my students transform through the creative endeavor choreography provides.

“We spend so much time in lecture and studio courses learning about dance – it’s rewarding to put it into practice on stage in a dance work. The students can apply all they are learning in the process.”

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