Director of Cass Tech's Dance Program takes a bow and steps down

Anthony Smith emphasizes being good human beings
Posted at 3:27 PM, Jun 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-23 15:27:07-04

This week's Person of the Week believes without the arts, many of our students would be lost.

In fact, he believes not everyone was meant to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer, and that without music, art, theatre and dance, the creative side of this world would be lost.

For nearly two decades, Anthony Smith has been in the shadows, using his talent to silently mold and guide dancers at Cass Technical High School to reach their full potential - on stage and off.

Mr. Smith got his undergraduate degree in dance and has performed professionally, but he’s much more than simply a dance instructor. Students call Mr. Smith their father, their second dad, their dance dad, always someone they can come to if they find themselves in trouble.

Since 1998, he’s been the director of the dance program at Cass Tech. His goal is to give his students a chance to turn pro if they choose or to become better human beings.

Students say they’re exposed to a lot. They go on different trips and have guest choreographers, and they say the classes are more difficult than you might find in a local dance school.

This year one of his students, Javon Jones, who was featured on Channel 7, was one of only 12 students accepted to Julliard on a full scholarship, and he’s not the only one to study under Mr. Smith to reach another level.

There's also the late singer Aaliyah, Naima Mora, who was on America’s Next Top Model, and DuJuan "DJ Smart" Junior, who was featured on the show So You Think You Can Dance. But there are many more.

Mr. Smith says nearly every school in Detroit used to have a dance and music program.

Today, with cuts to the arts, Cass is one of only a handful left with such programs.

He says while the emphasis today is on STEM, science technology engineering and math, there's something critical missing. He would rather it be changed to STEAM which would include the arts because, he says, without the arts a big chunk of life is missing.

In the end, whether the bright lights of stardom come or not, Mr. Smith wants his students to leave Cass with a road map to their dream.

You might call this year Mr. Smith's final curtain call because he is stepping down as the Director of Dance at Cass, but his legacy will live on through his students.