Leigh Smiley, Storyteller
Director, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
What does the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center mean to you and to the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies?
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center has some of the best artists in the world passing through its doors and I feel a need to introduce these artists to my students. I feel a huge responsibility to make it clear to our students that these opportunities are not the norm at every university. They have a gift here and if they don’t take advantage of it, they may never get it again because this is really unique. They get to have one-on-ones with these performers. They get to have lessons with them. They get to see them do their work. They can go to rehearsal. It’s amazing and it will change their lives. I feel responsible, I feel driven, I feel grateful, I feel blessed. I do, I feel blessed to be here. I would’ve never thought that I’d have all these riches intricately woven into my life. There are lifelong relationships and artistic partnerships that start at the Center.
I feel a huge responsibility to make it clear to our students that these opportunities are not the norm at every university. They have a gift here and if they don’t take advantage of it, they may never get it again because this is really unique.
The students also have some of the best laboratories in the world. Every stage and every room in this building is a laboratory where they can look deeply at themselves, deeply at society, and they meld together their education, their humanity, their wisdom, their learning into what is eventually art. I have worked at a lot of conservatories and theaters and our students have what they need here, at the Center, to grow and to ripen as artists. And not only that, it’s the people in this building. The people are so good at what they do. I think that the students understand that we are here, holding them in the cup of our hands.