Beginner Ballerina Profile: Christine Lee Smith

Christine-Lee-SmithThis week’s profile is on Christine Lee Smith who has been dancing for a year now after taking ballet for “about five minutes” as a kid. Make sure you check out her awesome photography as well!

When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

January 2013.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

For about five minutes I took ballet when I was in kindergarten or first grade. I think I was traumatized by the on stage “Dumbo” performance we did because I didn’t go back.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

In December of 2012. It had been a rough couple of years prior for my husband and I, loosing jobs, a big portion of our community, and struggling to keep my wedding/portrait photography business moving forward. At the time I decided to jump into ballet again I was in the middle of finishing a master’s in spiritual formation and we were studying the mind/body connection, and how healing comes not only from interior processing, but from bodily expression and integration as well. As a result, I was processing a lot of my own life journey and it seemed like the right time to take the next step toward healing for me.

Where do you take classes?

Dance West Dance Studio in Los Alamitos, CA – and it’s a wonderful place!

What is your favorite part about ballet?

The hidden strength it requires. It not so aggressive or obvious as, say, body building, but you need to add strength to your core, legs, and arms to do ballet correctly and well. And I like the nuance of that. And jumping – I love jumping!

What is your least favorite part?

The spinning. Oh, gosh, so dizzy! I’m getting better, but pirouettes and chaines are still such a challenge for me.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

Right now, my teacher, Monique. Since I didn’t come from a dance background this really feels like a whole new world to me; I feel a little like a kid in a candy shop. I’m still getting to know the art form, and its heroes. But my teacher is fantastic, and such a professional. I feel inspired to do better each class after watching her demonstrate and seeing the level of skill I hope to someday get to – it’s energizing!

What motivates you to keep dancing?

A couple of things – first, the fact that I’ve wanted to do ballet since college. I tried taking classes then, but they weren’t adult beginner classes. I thought I’d never be able to learn as an adult after that. I tried barre-cardio classes, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So when I found Dance West I knew I had found a way to live my dream. And it feels like something completely different from the rest of my life, which is filled with technology, creativity, and reading (lots of mind things). So being able to express myself creatively through my body feels fantastic.

Do you take any other dance classes?

Not currently. I have taken swing and salsa in the past, and there was a period of time when I was regularly line dancing.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

I like to find creative projects that inspire me, that are just beyond my reach of know-how, and completing them. Photography is specific way this gets manifested for me. I also really enjoy taking our dog, Courage, to the dog beach. And, I like reading and painting as well.

What advice would you like to give to those who want to start ballet or have just started?

Go for it! Find a teacher you trust, and a class that’s specific to adult beginners. And, when you’re ready (it took me 4-6 months), get a leotard. It really does help. 🙂

Anything else you’d like to add?

Ballet is a powerful art form – as it’s extremely soul/body integrative, it has the potential to touch your soul deeply. So don’t be surprised if joy, delight, or even anger surface on your ballet journey. As you’re able, I encourage to you to embrace those feelings if they come, and to process through them with a trusted friend or journal them out.

Do you have a blog?

Yes! My more personal musings are at:; and my newest project is at

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