Texas Tech University

In Motion

Kyla Olson

December 1, 2022

Kyla Olson

As we near the end of the semester, I am thankful for a stimulating and fulfilling fall term and for all the new faces in our program, both students and faculty. Melissa Brading, our new Assistant Professor of Practice, has already contributed much to the program, and I am honored to have someone of her caliber and talent with us full-time. In addition to Melissa, instructor Lily Balogh and lecturer Anthony DeNaro, aka YNOT, both bring new energy to the program. 

Recently, we wrapped up Fall Dance Festival, and my mind continues to review each choreographic work. The student performers truly impressed me, as did the designers who facilitated their imaginative choreography.  With new lighting equipment in the Creative Movement Studio, the visually stunning production was one of our strongest. Bravo to all involved!

As we wrap up one dance show, our focus shifts to the next upcoming dance production – DanceTech in March 2023. Presenting work by dance faculty Melissa Brading, Anthony DeNaro (YNOT), Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, Yvonne Racz-Key, and myself, DanceTech will feature guest artist and tap dance extraordinaire Jason Samuels Smith. We are thrilled to welcome Jason to campus for a guest residency in late January to create his tap work with our students:

Jason Samuels Smith
Photo courtesy of Bloch & Divine Rhythm Productions

Jason Samuels Smith, (dancer, choreographer, director, humanitarian) received an Emmy, Dance Magazine Award, American Choreography Award and Gregory Hines Humanitarian Award among others. Choreography and film credits include Black Nativity (associate tap choreographer/security guard #1); the hit series Psych; Secret Talents of the Stars (MYA); So You Think You Can Dance; Dancing with The Stars; UPAJ:Improvise; Dean Hargrove's Tap Heat; Outkast's Idlewild; Debbie Allen's Cool Women. Stage Credits include Soul Possessed (leading role); Broadway's Bring in Da'Noise, Bring in Da'Funk (principal/lead roles); Imagine Tap! (leading role). He also designed and developed a professional tap shoe sold exclusively by BLOCH and founded several Tap festivals and programs for Debbie Allen Dance Academy and the National Museum of Dance. Using his art for social justice, he supports organizations such as Groove With Me, AHF, Tied To Greatness, amfAR, Actors Fund, AHF, DRA/Broadway Cares, and Witness, to name a few. He was awarded a fellowship with the NY Library of the Performing Arts to continue his work revisiting the history of Tap Dance and American History. Jason engages with communities around the world as a long-standing ambassador for the legacy of the art form of Tap. 

The buzz from the students about this incredible guest artist is resounding. We are excited to begin our spring semester with Jason Samuels Smith, and to share our choreography in DanceTech in 2023.