Kia S. Smith
As a young child, being raised by a single mother on Chicago’s south side, I did not have the resources to pursue a career in dance. Most children in the community I come from were swallowed up by the traps and vices of the system by our adolescent years. My training consisted of practicing the social dances of the time with the neighborhood girls and sneaking into local jazz clubs to sway to the sounds of my father’s saxophone. My bilateral upbringing in this so- called ghetto, and the city’s world class Jazz community, brought manifest my desire to work in an interdisciplinary artistic practice. It is an agent through which I renounce shame and reclaim the inherent dignity that stems from inhabiting the corporeal body of a woman of color. Without regard to hierarchy, I am a choreographer who creates work for the concert dance stage, opera, and collaborates with a diversity of music ensembles, museums, visual artists and international arts partners. Though my work stems from experiences which have occurred as a result of living in this Black corporeal body, I am ultimately interested in a deconstruction and transcendence of race and community through movement.
As an emerging choreographer, I shape the world around me through creative decision making and aim to both reflect upon and change the human condition, challenge notions of perspective, and increase opportunities for interconnected sensibilities within the global community. As the founder and Resident Choreographer of the South Chicago Dance Theatre (SCDT), I am committed to dance diplomacy and this is exercised through the SCDT Cultural Diplomacy Program. Through the execution of robust international work, I believe that there is an opportunity to use contemporary dance to build a more connected, equitable and empathetic world. These global relationships also support my desire as an individual artist to continually push the boundaries of my work, build an international audience and become acquainted as a choreographer with global institutions around the world.
My vision for the future is to turn to a more robust interdisciplinary approach of performance making. As an artistic director and choreographer, I aspire to employ movement, opera, text, video projection, and original scenic design to create virtuosic and expressive performance experiences, constructing my own brand of dance theatre. As we pursue diversity and equity as a culture, these performative works will utilize a contemporary movement aesthetic to build new platforms for understanding history, cultures, and peoples through prolific storytelling.