[image_lightbox url=”/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Toni-Smith-e1389636191804.jpg” title=”Toni Smith” align=”right”]Toni Smith[/image_lightbox]The ending of one year and the beginning of the next stirs in me the desire for deeper reflection.  Like the character in “A Christmas Carole,”  I am required to visit my past, present, and future.  As I contemplate my marriage with the art of dance, I am reminded of a saying, “In order to know where you’re going, you must know where you’ve been.”  So…

I cannot remember a time in my life when the arts were not present.  I was fortunate in that I attended the Detroit Public Schools during the time when art was an integral component of the district’s curriculum.  Every school in DPS – elementary, middle, and high – had programs that included one or more of the arts:  music, performing arts, and visual arts.  It was in the middle school I attended that I was introduced to dance in such a way that it seemed a part of my very soul.  From that time to this, dance has never left me.

Throughout my post-secondary academic ventures, my career as a performer with regional companies, my experiences as a director/choreographer, my continuing efforts as an arts advocate and activist (locally, statewide, and nationally), dance has been my rock – the place where I can see all things clearly and where I am in harmony with the universe.  In my current occupation as lead teacher for the music, fine and performing arts departments at Cass Technical High School, I persist in my endeavors to advance the arts.  I believe it is extremely important that those who are given the authority to make decisions regarding the education of our children understand the tremendous benefits (academically, socially, and politically) an arts-incorporated curriculum offers them as the Detroit Public Schools Foundation does.  Their mission to retain the fine and performing arts in DPS shows their understanding of its importance and benefits.

I love positively affecting the lives of people locally and nationally through my labors in the arts.  Yet, I know that there is more for me to do.  Whatever my course, I know that DPS and the arts; dance in particular, will always be my bedrock.