Kalila Kingsford Smith builds interactive dance environments that are responsive to the characteristics of the performance space: whether a theater, a nature trail, a museum, a city street, or a Zoom call. Fundamentally, she believes that dance is healing and transformative and invites performers and audiences to investigate themselves as participants in the art-making process. Informed by her training in modern and contemporary dance, her movement flows between tension and release, momentum and suspension, improvisation and composition, and storytelling and abstraction. Her current practice includes improvisational
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Kalila is a movement professional, dance educator, choreographer, writer, and pilates instructor. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Drexel University and Temple University where she’s taught courses in modern dance technique, improvisation, choreography, creativity, dance history and theory. Much of her work is informed by her early dance training and performance career with Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center and Dancefusion. She has also performed in works by Dianne McIntyre, Paul Taylor, Pauline Koner, Mary Anthony, José Limón, and Donald McKayle. She has a MA in Dance from Temple University, and a BFA in Dance and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. She is currently serving as the Director of thINKingDANCE, an online dance publication based in Philadelphia, where she has been writing and editing since 2012. She teaches pilates at Drexel Pilates and Everybody Movement and Wellness.
Kalila Kingsford Smith Dance is a project-based vessel for choreographic explorations, developing transformative and interactive events that reflect the creative energies of each artist-collaborator involved.
My approach to dance is fundamentally healing and transformational.
My teaching philosophy is to lead students towards their fullest integration and expression of themselves while offering techniques, motivations, and historical and cultural contexts for their movement. I place the student’s growth at the center, cultivating their self-awareness and intentional engagement with established systems of movement. Often, movement techniques ask bodies/dancers to work towards an idealistic physical form that can perform particularly stylized movements. My goals as a teacher are to provide students with an avenue for growth inside any system of movement, while honoring each individual’s unique life experiences, and to explore infinite options for how both can shape the student’s approach to movement. I seek to cultivate students’ adaptability and responsiveness, which are valuable skills in any movement practice and in life.
My primary teaching practices include somatic improvisation, modern and contemporary dance techniques, jazz and musicality, historical and cultural dance analysis, choreography and creative process, and Pilates and mindfulness practices. In any dance class, these modes cross-pollinate to generate an informed and rigorous practice that moves the dancers through various relationships to gravity, to musicality, to tension and to release. As an educator and as an artist, I am influenced both by my teachers and by my lived experiences performing in the works of various modern dance choreographers. These teachers and choreographers include José Limón, Mary Anthony, Martha Graham, Lester Horton, Donald McKayle, Dianne McIntyre, Paul Taylor, Gwendolyn Bye, Peter Sparling, Amy Chavasse, Robin Wilson, Jessica Fogel, Melissa Beck, Judy Rice, Leah Stein, Monica Frichtel, Merian Soto, Michelle Van Doeren, Nancy Berman Kantra, Kevin Maloney, Janet Pilla-Marini, Kun Yang-Lin, Rachel Kantra Beal, David Dorfman, Miriam Giguere, Jennifer Morley, and Megan Quinn.