Gerard Smithwrick is featured in this edition of Dance Spotlight! Gerard is an up and coming dancer in Austin, TX and is an instructor with the Austin Inspired Movement dance team. He was nominated by Jason Haynes. Check out a few fun facts and information about Gerard including his dance pet peeves and his thoughts on having a ‘dance conversation’ during a social dance.
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Where are you from?
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I learned to dance salsa and bachata in Miami where I lived for 2 years and now I reside in Austin, TX.
You recently offered a great dance observation in a Facebook post. You said, “This is why dance is so amazing! I can literally go to almost any country, ask someone to dance Salsa and we can have a full on dance-conversation like we’ve danced for years. It’s incredible. Dance is a universal language.” For you, what qualities of a social dance make it a ‘dance-conversation’?
Love this question. In order to have a “dance conversation” there needs to be authenticity, courage, passion, respect and fun!
- Authenticity is you being your true self once you hit the floor, whether that’s through arm/hand styling, body movement, or footwork, I should be able to get sense of who you are (your spirit, your personality) from how you dance.
- Courage to try new things, allow yourself to relax, and truly hear and encompass the music.
- Passion is feeling the music, connecting with your partner, and loving what you’re doing.
- Respect is to constantly be mindful of your partner, not be selfish, not aim to harm, to adapt when things don’t go as planned and treat others how they’d like to be treated.
- Fun because that’s most important of all!
Favorite places in Austin to dance?
Austin Inspired Movement of course! Shameless plug because I’m an instructor there, but I do believe that we have something special and our community is welcoming, inclusive and growing. But other than Inspired Movement, Salsamania is my FAVORITE social of the month it’s a Must-Go!
Dance Pet Peeve: (Hygiene, No connection, People who teach while dancing, etc)
Where do I begin?! I’ve got a few:
- Super Sweaty dancers – We all sweat. It’s natural – but take steps to ensure you aren’t dripping all over your partner. Bring an extra shirt, buy good material, bring a towel, etc.
- Know It All Leads – Unless you both lead and follow or you’re an instructor, you as a lead probably shouldn’t be telling your partner how they’re “supposed to do the move” in the middle of the dance. If a follow can’t or chooses not to do the move you want, abort mission and try something else. Keep dancing, it’s all respect.
Favorite moment from your dance life thus far?
Performing my first partnered Salsa On2 routine with my coach and mentor, Karla Blanco (El Sabor de Houston) at B.I.G. San Antonio in 2019. I am in LOVE with salsa and it’s my dream to keep performing, there’s nothing else like it.
What tips would you give to dancers who are thinking about performing?
My tip as someone who has been both the team member and team Director: GO FOR IT, YOU CAN DO IT! I know it may appear scary and nerve-racking (it is for a lot of people and that’s natural), but it’s so worth it. The people you meet, the connections you make, the achievements you reach, and the ceilings you’ll break are all worth the work. Give it a try!
What are your current favorite songs to dance to? Top two or three…
OMG my favorite joints to play on repeat are:
- “Tu Con El” – both versions by Frankie Ruiz & Bobby Martïnez
- “Ran Kan Kan (Adolfo’s Version)” – El Chino y la Diferencia
- “Vente Negra” – Habana con Kola
Favorite dance video you’d like to share?
This video of my Salsa dance idol: Terry “SalsAlianza” Tauliaut! I pray that I can train to be just as good as him. His musicality, artistry, lead, creativity and passion gives me LIFE!!!!