New Grad Lands Job with Parsons Dance Company

Posted: June 21, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Heidi Kershaw and Billy Smith
Dancers Heidi Kershaw and Billy Smith (above and below) dancing Mark Morris’ “Beautiful Day.” Both were Friends of Dance Scholarship recipients and now work for professional dance companies.

By Colleen Kearney Rich

Dance Department chair Elizabeth Price is used to going to Commencement alone.

By the time the university celebrates the event each May, many of the dancers graduating from her small but nationally recognized department have found jobs and are already dancing professionally. This was the situation for dance major Billy Smith this year.

Dancers Billy Smith and Heidi Kershaw
Photos by Evan Cantwell

Smith and his parents were able to attend the College of Visual and Performing Arts convocation, but immediately following the event, the brand-new graduate had to dash off to New York for an audition with an internationally renowned dance company. As the result of that audition, Smith is one of two dancers chosen this year to join Parsons Dance.

“We are very excited to have Billy joining the company,” said choreographer David Parsons, artistic director of Parsons Dance, in a news release. “He is a terrific dancer and is a great addition to the company.”

Smith graduated from Mason magna cum laude and received awards for achievement in performance, choreography and academic endeavors. Throughout his time at Mason, Smith was a key dancer in the Dance Company and performed works by Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, Susan Marshall and Doug Varone, among others. He also choreographed for the company four times.

In addition to being a performer in the gala concert of the American College Dance Festival for the past two years, Smith’s own choreography, “3-Way Stop,” was selected for the 2006 gala at Ohio State University.

He was the department’s second Friends of Dance Scholarship student. The first, Heidi Kershaw, graduated in 2006 and joined the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company.

“Billy invested in his art continually. He has a great passion for dance,” says Price, who characterizes Smith as a hard worker. “He is talented, focused, responsible and extremely generous.”

During the department celebration on the last day of the academic year, Price says they showed Smith’s high school audition tape, the one he used to get into Mason’s dance program.

“It was delightful to see how he has retained his boundless energy and enthusiasm and yet recognize how he has matured in his approach to his life’s work. We are very proud and excited for Billy. I think David is lucky to have him.”

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