At 8 years old, Dorothy Smith began taking dance lessons at the Frankfort School of Ballet. Now, 15 years later, she’s turned her favorite childhood activity into a career.
Smith, a Frankfort High School 2013 graduate, fell in love with dance right away.
“I was always into classical ballet,” Smith said. “I’m kind of a chaotic person. That’s why I like ballet because there’s structure.”
After high school, Smith studied with the Lexington Ballet until she got a knee injury that kept her from dancing for 6 months. During the time period, she became friends with John Fryman who introduced her to circus arts.
“I was at rock bottom,” she said. “John took me in and the first thing he did was train me on fire eating.
“I needed something with adrenaline. I learned it in one day.”
Smith’s circus name is Spunyette. She describes her performance as classical dance with the ferocity of fire.
Smith performs at festivals all over the state. She has even traveled to Buffalo New York for the Nights of Fire Festival.
In August 2018, however, she decided to bring her act back to Frankfort to work at the dance studio where it all started.
At the Frankfort School of Ballet, Smith teaches advance ballet, youth classes and circus arts.
FRANK.: What do you like about being an instructor?
Smith: It’s the most rewarding, I love teaching children. I remember being their age and I would have loved a crazy pink haired woman teaching me. They think they can be in the circus and I love it.
It’s flow art and nothing you do is wrong. The girls create things I couldn’t event create. They can create something out of nothing.
I love teaching ballet the most. I’m the most passionate about teaching them the foundation.
FRANK.: Where all have you traveled to perform?
Smith: I recently got back from California where I made connections with circus performers. My goal is to travel all over. Vegas is my next stop. Lots of my friends work in Vegas.
When I was 15, I went to Dance Theater of Tennessee for three weeks. I learned all of the classical ballets. It was really good for me. That was the first time I felt like I could really dance.
Then, I went to multiple summer programs at Lexington Ballet. This summer, I pushed myself and auditioned for Ballet Detroit. They’re a Russian vaganova style ballet company. That was one style I had not learned.
I auditioned and I made it. I went to Detroit for a week. I got myself a cheap hotel room. I went to the Opera House every day. No one my age spoke English. They were all from Italy. I was very much an outsider.
I get by in the ballet world because I can present myself. They gave me things I had never done. One of my biggest downfalls is it takes me a little longer to learn choreography. I have to section it out.
I came back a completely different person. I believe that if you face your biggest fear then that fear no longer has power over you.
The feedback I got was that I had the best performance quality. They could tell I was trying hard.
It was one of the scariest and best experience ever.
FRANK.: What is in your five year plan?
Smith: I would like to definitely be dancing with a large dance company, teaching ballet and have my own Vegas variety show — why not? I’m dreaming big.
When you love what you do, then you’re not even working.
FRANK.: When you’re not dancing or doing circus performances, what do you like to do?
Smith: I love cats. I love nature. I love to spin fire, tie dye and hang out with my crazy circus friends. I also like to go to festivals like Terrapin Hill Music Festival in Harrodsburg, Nights of Fire in Buffalo, New York, and Kinetic Fire in Ohio.