Richard Smith is the new owner and executive director of 360° Dance Festival after a long career as the artistic director of the non-profit dance company, Inaside Chicago Dance from 2009 until 2017. Richard’s approach to teaching and directing is focused on alignment, manipulation of the body, strength, and coordination and origination of movement. He believes that the only truth in dance is constantly working to master technique and the understanding of fundamentals of movement. In jazz dance, it is through this process the dancer begins to tap into the emotional connection of dance. Only then can the dancer generate performing from a vulnerable place of truth, making the dancers’ connection to the audience real and pure. It is this philosophy that keeps his fire burning for teaching and helping dancers, teachers and choreographers reach their highest artistic level.
Smith has been on faculty at The Gus Giordano Dance Center for six years and the Joel Hall Dancers and Center for 3 years. He has been affiliated with internationally touring Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and River North Chicago Dance Company. He attended East Carolina University in North Carolina where he earned a BFA in Dance Performance with a concentration in jazz dance and Dance Education. After college, Smith moved to Chicago to train with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. Most notably, Smith had the opportunity to travel and demonstrate for the late Gus Giordano and teaches Giordano technique in Chicago, IL. The Gus Giordano Dance School has named Smith a master jazz dance teacher. Smith is a teacher of classical, lyrical and contemporary jazz, classical ballet and modern dance to all ages, finding a special connection with the pre-teen youth and most effective with advanced and professional levels. He learns the most about his teaching methods in the pre-teen age group. In addition, Richard has had the opportunity to be an artist in residence at his very own East Carolina University as well as Western Michigan University, Elon University and Duke University. Smith has students in dance programs around the country including; Loyola Marymount, Suny Purchase, University of Buffalo in NY, Hofstra University in NY, Fordham University, University of Arizona at Tucson, Oklahoma City University and Point Park University. Smith also has a former student that has toured with Selena Gomez, signed to dance with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and recently performed on “The Voice” and just finished an international tour with Justin Beiber. Smith was a judge for Ms. NC America in 2012. Most recently, Smith has had a student win a Jeff Award 2015 for his leading roll as Billy in “Billy Elliot”.
He is a regional and national adjudicator and teacher for Applause Talent Presentations, Kids Artistic Revue, Dance Masters of Michigan, Dance Masters of Wisconsin, Bravo Dance Competition and Rainbow Connection in addition to teaching and choreographing for workshops, studios and companies throughout the US. As a newly certified Comprehensive Pilates Instructor as well as certified personal trainer, he can bring solutions to all dancers at any level of training. Smith is also the co-founder of the Midwest Dance Teachers Forum.