Posted May 8, 2023

Dancing through life: Temple senior is ready to see the world

Commencement speaker for the Class of 2023 Melanie Smith is ready to do the traveling she missed out on during the pandemic.

Smith holds a sign reading "My big future: Dancing around the world :)" in a dance studio
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg

Name: Melanie Smith 
Degree: BFA, dance with a political science minor
College: Boyer College of Music and Dance 
Hometown: Springfield, Pennsylvania 
Graduation year: 2023 

Big Future: Dancing around the world.

Why Temple: The Boyer College of Music and Dance’s well-rounded dance curriculum helped Melanie become adept at a variety of dance styles. In addition to technique classes such as modern, African and hip-hop, Melanie savored more exploratory sections of the curriculum as well, such as improvisation. In addition to the curricular offerings, Melanie wanted to be in the heart of a creative city like Philadelphia, which made Temple the perfect match for her. Here, she’s been able to meet dancers from all walks of life, expanding both her dancing technique and her outlook on life. She’s also been involved with admissions as a tour guide and an Owl Ambassador, which gives her even more opportunities to meet new people from all over the country. 

Philly life: Melanie chose Temple in part because of Philadelphia’s artistic reputation. As soon as she landed on campus, she took full advantage of the city’s arts scene and took dance classes all over the city. In particular, she loves the Koresh Dance Studio in Rittenhouse Square. There, she takes classes from contemporary to hip-hop, and savors the opportunity to collaborate with other creative adults from different backgrounds. She noted that in many suburbs like the one where she grew up it can be difficult to find classes for adults, let alone in such a variety of techniques. 

A new kind of performance: It is this variety of experience and artistry that led Melanie to apply to be this year’s speaker for Boyer graduation ceremony. She was also chosen to address the Class of 2023 at the university’s general Commencement on May 11. While her Boyer speech focuses on the nuances of artistry, her Commencement speech addresses the student experience with a healthy dose of humor. After the caps are tossed, Melanie’s next move is to embark on the traveling she was unable to experience during the COVID-19 shutdown. She plans to take an extensive train trip across the country and eventually travel to Europe, as she missed out on the opportunity to study abroad. 

Temple Made moment: Melanie’s senior thesis was a three-part dance performance that portrayed the struggles and triumphs of Generation Z, exploring themes such as technology and disconnection, while also celebrating creativity. In particular, the piece highlighted the difficulties of being hyperaware of issues like climate change and police violence as a very young person. So, during the Friday night performance, which happened to fall on Earth Day, Melanie took her final bow in costume—as the Lorax from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. The children’s character is one of the most iconic symbols of climate change and climate activism, one of the major factors shaping the experiences of Melanie’s generation, as well as a symbol of hope for their future. 

Hootable: “Just being an artist in the city puts you in a significantly better position for collaborating with other artists.” 

- Lindsay Hargrave