Sarita Smith Childs
Sarita Smith Childs is a Chicago based, dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist. Her professional performance experiences span the genres of modern, jazz, ballet commercial and contemporary dance. A proud native of Chicago’s West Side, Sarita is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where she received a B.A. Liberal Arts degree with concentrations in Dance and Economics.
Sarita began her training at the Academy of Movement and Music, Oak Park, Il under Stephanie Clemens, Judith Quirk Chitwood, Juanita Lopez, Kay Johnson, Ron DeJesus, Alberto Arias, Edo Sie, Joseph Holmes, Harriet Ross, and Randy Duncan. Her professional training continued in NY and Chicago, where she trained with Viola Farber (Merce Cunningham Dance Company), William Adaire, (Jennifer Muller | The Works), Frank Hatchett, Judith Jamison and James Truitte, Ernestine Stodelle, Gayle Corbin, Claire Bataille, Laura Wade, Birute Barodicaite, and Julie Nakagawa.
Sarita performed with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble’s New Dances, Momenta Dance Company, Robin Lakes Rough Dance, DanszLoop Chicago, Winifred Haun & Dancers, Cerqua Rivera Art Experience, and Thodos Dance Chicago, where she also served as the Director of Community Outreach.
She has performed in the contemporary, jazz, modern and commercial works of Joseph Holmes, Randy Duncan, Barbara Stein, Sherry Zunker, Ron DeJesus, Alberto Arias, Paula Frasz, Harrison McEldowney, Melissa Thodos, Wilfredo Rivera, Winifred Haun and John Lehrer. Additionally, she has performed in the classical modern works of Ruth St. Dennis, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Elanor King, and Isadora Duncan.
Sarita is honored to have performed for 11 years as an ensemble member, soloist, and rehearsal assistant for Choreographer, Randy Duncan Choreography, where she was cast as a Principal Ballet Dancer / Stunt Artist for Paramount Pictures, Save the Last Dance. She continues to work with Mr. Duncan as a repetiteur and guest rehearsal director for the Chicago Academy for the Arts Repertory Ensemble.
Previous teaching experience includes: Adjunct faculty of the Dance Conservatory of Barat College of DePaul University; the Lou Conte Dance Studio; Gus Giordano Dance Center; Joel Hall Dance Center Joffrey Academy of Dance Adult and Professional Divisions; Teaching artist with Joffrey Ballet Community Engagement; Director of Whitney Young Magnet High School Dance Department and Dance Team; Visceral Dance Center; Academy of Movement and Music; Extensions Dance Center; and as an Instructor of Dance in the Loyola University Chicago Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
Sarita teaches regularly as a Master Class Instructor and has taught for CNADM, Tennessee Association of Dance, Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble, Inaside Dance Summer Intensive, After School Matters, Blue Rhythm Collective, and has designed dance residencies for numerous high school dance departments in IL, TN, and MI. In addition, Sarita has served as company class instructor for Giordano Dance Chicago, Joel Hall Dancers, Thodos Dance Chicago, Chicago Repertory Ballet and is a current company class instructor for Inaside Dance Chicago.
In preparation for her retirement from stage, Sarita began her fitness teaching career in 2004.
She received her certifications as a Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Pilates Mat/Reformer and TRX instructor and owned her own small group training studio. She is certified to teach multiple strength, cardio, HIIT and dance fitness formats and held positions at the East Bank Club of Chicago, Norfolk Yacht & Country Club and at Loyola Hospital Center for Fitness.
Sarita’s choreography has been seen on the fashion, commercial and concert dance stages. Recent projects include commissions for: Visceral Dance Chicago, Grammy Nominated Blues Harpist, Billy Branch for Chicago Blues Fest; Blues/Folk Fiddler Anne Harris & Grayscale Dance Los Angeles; Voice of the City Vaudeville Underground and Dance In the Parks.
Sarita is a 2022 recipient of South Chicago Dance Theatre’s Cultural Hero Award and a 2022, 2019 and 2016 nominee for the 3 Arts Chicago Award in Dance/Choreography. In 2021 and 2017 she was nominee for the Chicago United Business Leaders of Color Award and in 2019 was a nominee for the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Award.
She is a recipient of the Ruth Page Award for Dance Achievement; and is a six-time nominee and a past winner of the Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Performance in a Music/Dance Program.
Business and Advocacy
Before she returned to the stage to finish her performing career in 1999 and again, after she retired from stage in 2007, Sarita worked in banking & capital markets as a Vice President - sales/trader and financial advisor recommending investment strategy to state & local governments; higher ed & high school districts; endowments & foundations; banks and insurance companies; small businesses and high net worth investors.
A proud mother of two and spouse of a retired (25yr) United States Marine, Sarita continues to serve as an advocate, advisor, and subject matter expert, on non-profit management, DEI, entrepreneurship, health/wellness and for veteran and military families. Her volunteer work currently includes roles as: President of the Board of Directors of the Oak Park Area Arts Council; Board Member and co-Chair of the DEI Advisory Council of Chicago Dancers United; Board Member of the Chicago Dance History Project; Advisor to Para.Mar Dance Theatre; Advisory Board Member of the Chicago Chapter of Blue Star Families; and a Volunteer Ambassador for the Lupus Research Alliance
Ballet, Modern Dance, Analysis and Pedagogy of Dance
Education: BA, Sarah Lawrence, dance and economics
Office: GA 117A