We Might End up Somewhere in Mexico (Vaudevillians)
Ed Mells – Colorado Forms
Learning something new, moving your body in a new way, & meeting new people are all a big part of urban at ASU. Last Friday’s (3/7) workshop had the janitors in the hallways of PEBE East grooving to Beyoncé (I saw them!) & trying to get Anton Smith’s choreography down. The man’s infectious energy, coupled with a laugh that could make Adolf Hitler crack a smile, made for a refreshing, heart-cleansing dance workshop. Everyone felt just a little closer to themselves, and more comfortable communicating with any rhythm, NOT just Beyoncé. The man has been out of sight since relocating to Mexico City to explore life and grow as an artist, but was happy to spend time with us at ASU and to teach us a thing or two, as well as sit down with yours truly to talk about how many suit cases of purely clothes is appropriate for international travel (not 3, Anton), drinking black coffee as a refreshment after instructing a dance class (at 11 p.m.), as well as being a living lesson in following your heart & not being afraid to carve your own path in life. We all really enjoyed Anton, & it’s impossible to not learn something or laugh when you spend a minute with him. Get the experience for yourself by reading on:
Anton wanders like a cowboy
Born & raised in Philly, Anton Smith started dancing seriously in his teens & throughout high school. After graduating, he joined the army out of curiosity to see the world, keeping the love of movement close to his heart wherever he went.
After 3 years of service & getting the chance to experience many different states as well as different countries, Anton decided that the military was not for him. He had fallen in love with Arizona during his soldier days and had decided to come here to study fine art & dance at the University of Arizona, embracing his artistic side. The University did not offer any classes in hip hop or house dance, his roots as a dancer. Anton decided to take the initiative, & created a Hip Hop course for dancers who want to embrace their inner funk. This was all during his junior year in undergrad. The Pima County Education peoples watched an exhibition he choreographed with his students, & welcomed the class into the University. After a few years, this program evolved into his own professional choreography group, the Human Project. This collective travelled the world, from Brazil to Canada, all over the ‘States, & hopped over to Europe. The Human Project continued to perform in Arizona & everywhere else for around 10 years, leaving a profound impact on Hip Hop & dance in general in Tucson.
After a decade of teaching, choreographing brand new performances, and travelling the globe, Anton felt the desire for new artistic horizons again. He officially ended the Human Project around 2003, when he decided to focus on his other artistic talents, writing poetry, singing, rapping, and producing music. Anton said the transition from ‘8 hours a day on the dance floor to 8 hours a day in the recording studio’ left him a more disciplined, wiser artist. Of course there was no way he could simply forget dancing, as finding a new passion (especially mediums so interrelated) can help rekindle original ones.
The change of pace in his artistic life required a change of scenery as well, as Anton said goodbye to his belongings to live a little more nomadically South of the Border. He parted with (most) of his material possessions, saying it felt cleansing and enlightening. Anton treats life like the adventure that it truly is & should be recognized as. Living in Mexico City is far from country-side soul searching, but the new culture & language are enough to get you out of your shell. “Being a foreigner & learning Spanish kinda force you to forget your self-consciousness. You can’t be afraid to mess up, or else you won’t go anywhere or learn anything, or meet anyone!… It’s just like dancing.”
Anton is busy these days south of Sonora teaching & learning a new language. He is writing verses of poetry & songs, producing his own Hip Hop and original tracks, He also writes choreography for any song he makes & plans on performing. You may have seen him by the Greenhaus in Downtown Phoenix Saturday (3/8), rapping, dancing, & singing for some entranced Phoenicians. He is teaching in Mexico as well as performing as much as possible. He is also translating his English works into Spanish, for another culture to enjoy & share in.
Anton plans to continue travelling & following his heart, enriching the lives of his students, friends, & lucky audiences. We were happy to have him at our open session & are sending much love his way at ASU.
Anton called his style neo burlesque, vaudeville, classy s***