Ms. Emily Smith recently joined the Westwood Dance Department and currently teaches SunDancers and Warrior Pride. As an Austin native, she grew up in the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD), attended McNeil High School, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). This is her first official year as a public school teacher and she has had vast experience in the dance world.
Ever since a young age, Ms. Smith has always had a passion for dance. She began teaching at a local dance studio as a summer job in college, but fell in love with it and decided that she wanted to pursue teaching dance as a career. She has had many people along her journey who inspired her to become a teacher herself.
“My former drill team directors and dance teachers were so impactful in helping me to not only grow as a dancer, but also as a person, so I knew that I wanted to give back and mentor young dancers the way that my teachers did for me,” Ms. Smith said.
Ms. Smith taught at a local dance studio for many years and was a substitute in the Round Rock and Leander school districts. In 2015, she became a student teacher at Westwood.
“Before teaching at Westwood, I danced professionally at the most magical place on earth at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida where I had the opportunity to create magic and happiness for thousands of guests,” Ms. Smith said. “It was a dream come true.”
In her free time, Ms. Smith enjoys doing many activities outside of the dance world as well.
“I love being outdoors, watching college football (especially the longhorns!), spending time with friends and family, playing with my black lab Gus, and all things Disney,” Ms. Smith said.
Now that she has become a dance teacher at Westwood, she is looking forward to getting to know the dancers better and finally getting to dance with them. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online school system has posed some difficulties for teaching dance.
“It has been challenging to teach choreography, work on technique, and give appropriate feedback virtually since there has been a lot of lag time due to variable internet connections,” Ms. Smith said.
Despite all these difficulties posed by virtual school, Ms. Smith is hopeful to see her dance students overcome them.
“I have been so impressed at how incredibly positive, resilient, and hardworking these dancers have been in the midst of the challenges,” Ms. Smith said. “Getting to dance in person again will be such a gift.”
Whether students are to attend virtual or in-person school, Ms. Smith is excited to see her students grow as dancers and as people.