Former professional ballerina Angela Smith pours her sheer love and passion for dancing into the more than 250 young girls she teaches in her Umhlanga studio every week.
“One of my earliest ballet memories was dancing with my sister and getting so excited to receive a gold star or marshmallow after class. And now I do the same thing for my students after their classes,” says 29-year-old Angela.
Specialising in the Cecchetti method of ballet, Angela says she knew early on in life that dancing was something she wanted to do forever. At 16 she decided to take it more seriously, so she changed to a new dance studio and started dancing more regularly.
“This is when I realised it was what I wanted to do every day. When I had to skip dance for school or other commitments, I longed to be in the studio.”
Dancing under the guidance of her nurturing dance teacher, Maureen Cook, who Angela says guided her from a young age and pushed her to reach her full potential, Angela decided to specialise in Cecchetti Ballet. This is a method of training devised by Enrico Cecchetti in the late 1800’s designed with careful regard to the laws of anatomy to prepare a dancer’s body for performance.
“As a dancer I attended classes in different genres but the Cecchetti method caught my attention. The syllabus is traditional and is accompanied by beautiful classical piano music, I have worked on the Cecchetti method for over 20 years and have developed a true love for it.”
Angela attained a Cecchetti Ballet teacher qualification after school, but the urge to dance professionally was still there and she joined a fusion dance company. She danced with them for five years, working on different styles of contemporary dance and ballet. A career highlight, she says, was dancing for the Prince and Princess of Monaco in 2012.
“From a young age I always wanted to own a dance studio and share my love of dance with children and after dancing for five years I felt it was the right time to open my own studio.”
Angela opened her studio five years ago with one student. Since then she has relocated to a bigger premises to accommodate her full schedule of training the over 250 students on her books today.
“We designed the studio to be a place where parents feel welcome and children can relax in and do homework before or after class. Our studio is equipped with ballet barres, dance flooring, mirrors and a piano. We also have a kitchen where parents can enjoy a cup of coffee with friends while waiting for class or take a stroll around the mall.”
As a very hands-on teacher who tries to lead by example, Angela says her goal as a ballet teacher is to inspire every student who walks through the door, and allow each student to dance in a positive fun environment, while learning correct etiquette and discipline.
“My hope is to produce well rounded dancers who not only excel in the studio, but also in life. Ballet is so much more than just dancing – it teaches life lessons, confidence and work ethic. There is so much instant gratification today, but you have to work hard and persevere to see results in ballet.
“One of my greatest joys is being able to watch my students grow up over the years. Most of my students start dancing at three-years-old and continue to dance all the way through school. I share a special bond with every one of my students and love watching them mature and figure out who they are as individuals.” Details: Find Angela Smith School of Dance, Umhlanga Centre, 0825920892, [email protected], @Angelasmithdance on Instagram
Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport