China Smith, Founder and Executive Artistic Director

Founder China Smith has taught dance for over ten years in East Austin schools and performing arts programs. While exposing students to Austin’s rich arts community, she found limited exposure to Black art, crucial to the self-empowerment of her young students. Working against stereotypes and misconceptions of the African-American culture, the concept of Ballet Afrique was born to offer East Austin youth a place to experience the richness of their own heritage through the arts alongside the other beautiful cultures represented in Austin. 

In 2008, China established Austin’s first African-American professional contemporary dance company with the goal of producing socially meaningful and technically sound contemporary collaborations. As Artistic Director of Ballet Afrique she has created several works including “Four Women,” “Re-Flexions” and “Afrique of Nature.”
Through Ballet Afrique China has brought her company and students opportunities to train and participate in workshops, intensives, and master classes with well known and highly respected artists including Milton Myers, Mel Tomlinson, Chuck Davis, Bruce Wood, Donald Byrd & Spectrum Dance.