When I was about 10 years old, I filled up piles and piles of notebooks with the rough beginnings of whimsical, fantastical and imaginative stories. While the characters and settings varied, they all started with exactly the same line:
Hi, my name is (insert name) and I am a fairy/elf/witch/sorceress/princess with (insert color) hair and (insert color) eyes.
Friendly, descriptive, and painfully obvious. So, to honor my 10-year old self who wonderfully and unabashedly threw herself into writing and creation of all sorts, I figured I would introduce myself in a similar fashion:
Hi, my name is Ruby Josephine Smith and I am a Contemporary dancer/choreographer with blonde hair and Blue-grey eyes.
Looking back, the fact that I wrote just the beginnings of so many stories and never followed through to finish a single one is interesting to me. I suppose it hints at my ongoing fascination with the artistic process and my tendency to give it more weight than the actual outcome. It also feels quite appropriate at this point in my life, introducing myself in the same way while I am deep in the throws of creative exploration. There is no end to this story in sight.
In the meantime, here is a bit more about the beginning:
I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota- the daughter of two artists who instilled in me the values of creative play, exploration, uninterrupted studio time, and the fact that you can never have too many books. I began performing from an early age- both dance and theater- and was constantly choreographing phrases and pieces in my head.
While I always harbored a desire for adventure, I discovered an even deeper curiosity about the world once I began to travel. I spent 9 months as a backpacking wanderer, soaking in new perspectives and inputs, knowing almost instantly that I wouldn’t be able to go back to where I came from for quite a while. I was a dancing nomad until finding a new and very different place to create a home.
Somehow the twisting, weaving pathways of life have brought me to Tangier, Morocco, where I have been living and working as a choreographer and dance teacher for the past 5 years. You can read a little bit more about how I ended up in this city here.
It makes sense to me now that I have chosen a place to live that is so far from my original upbringing. I am the sort of person who likes to take on creative risks and push myself out of my own comfort zone. Whether through books that portray different perspectives of internal lives (I am an obsessive reader, if you haven’t figured that out already), trying new things such as foods, flavors, styles of movement, and languages, through intimate conversations with other artists or people from completely different backgrounds, or by choosing to pursue a performance art that takes exhaustive practice and hard work.
Dance- choreography more specifically- you could say, is my one true love. Passionate, emotionally fickle, alive and electric. Writing comes in as a close second, like the love of a steady, dependable childhood friend. I have also had several on-and-off flings with photography, food and recipe development, podcasting (currently ongoing), and attempting to keep a sketchbook. The smaller curiosities ebb and flow, but the big questions always circle around two things for me: movement and written words. These fields are what pull me into that expansive and beautiful unknown territory of making art.
Lately, you can most often find me in one of two places: in the bright, sunny dance studio where I work in Tangier, improvising, creating choreography, and teaching my inspiring young students to create and move with confidence, or in my cozy home, curled up with a book, writing, recording podcast interviews, or attempting to cook an elaborate tagine to share with my warm and wonderful Moroccan-in-laws. This is my current base, which is always enriched by sporadic travel, meetings and connections with inspiring individuals, seasons of rehearsal and performance, and whatever other surprises are thrown my way. I’m open to it all.