Photo Credit: Jonathan Godoy Photo Credit: Joe Matukewicz Photo Credit: Jonathan Godoy Photo Credit: Mike Esperanza Photo Credit: Joel Smith

JOEL MEJIA SMITH (He/Him/His)
Associate Professor and Chair

Joel Mejia Smith is a queer, Latinx US dance artist, visual designer, writer, photographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His work critically engages representations of gender and sexuality in performance and media, as well as how structures and strategies for dance-making are concealed/revealed or de/mystified as modes of production. A large part of his research agenda has been dedicated to his duet dance theater company casebolt and smith. With artistic partner Liz Casebolt, casebolt and smith is a platform for collaborative research and plays with the gender binary and sexuality politics embedded in man/woman partnerships. Their evening-length work “O(h)” has been performed over eighty times in twenty-five different cities and six countries since 2010, and was named a “Top 10 Performance of 2013” by the San Francisco Chronicle/SFGATE, as well as one of “Five Unforgettable 2010 Dance Performances” by the MinnPost. They’ve recently collaborated with Grammy winning Partch Ensemble, and their newest evening length work “close” premiered at Marsee Auditorium in Torrance, CA.

With casebolt and smith, and as an independent choreographer, Smith has been commissioned to create over fifteen new works for professional companies and college dance departments and has been a guest artist in residence at several institutions across the country and abroad. His work has been presented at the National Theater of Taiwan in Taipei, 92nd Street Y’s Buttenweiser Hall in New York City, Miami Dade Cultural Art Center in Miami, REDCAT in Los Angeles, ODC Theater in San Francisco, Vancouver International Dance Festival in Vancouver, Dance Theater of Ireland in Dublin, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, Lee Theater in St. Louis, Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, and the Southern Theater in Minneapolis among others. His work is taught by scholars and artists, and has been written about on multiple occasions by the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Dance Magazine, LA Weekly and others.

Smith teaches across the curriculum in the Department of Dance at UCR, including undergraduate and graduate courses in composition, pedagogy and production, as well as in jazz and contemporary dance practices. He also regularly leads independent studies across with students across degree programs, and is developing new courses in digital technologies. He has served as Faculty Undergraduate Advisor for 6 years and is currently serving as Chair of the department. He is also Co-Chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBT Students, Faculty and Staff, with Toi Thibodeaux, Associate Director of the LGBTRC.

Prior to being hired at UC Riverside Smith was on the faculties of Scripps College in Claremont, CA; University of California, Los Angeles; Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA; El Camino College in Torrance, CA; and at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, CA. He danced for Susan Rose and Dancers as well as Hassan Christopher and the Company of Strangers, performed in works by Doug Varone, Richard Bull (via Susan Leigh Foster), Fred Benjamin and Lea Anderson, and has extensive commercial credits including dancing for pop artists Ricky Martin and Thalia as well as appearing on film and television including two international commercials for Hummer and Dr. Pepper. Smith was named one of “LA’s Finest” contemporary male dancers by Dance Spirit Magazine. For a full list of credits, please see my cv.

Original Choreography – Premieres
2019  close – Film. Marsee Auditorium, El Camino Center for the Arts. Torrance, CA
2019  close. Marsee Auditorium, El Camino Center for the Arts. Torrance, CA
2018  Daphne of the Dunes. MicroFest, REDCAT Theater. Los Angeles, CA
2018  the More (i) See. Tempe Center for the Arts. Phoenix, AZ
2016  Light/Weight. Culver Center for the Arts. Riverside, CA
2016  Too Squared v2. Double Exposure, ODC Theater. San Francisco, CA
2015  Loop(ed). UNSCENE. Culver Center for the Arts. Riverside, CA
2015  Too Squared v.1. Walking Distance Dance Festival, ODC Theater. San Francisco, CA
2015  Gabriel: Prologue. Dance Portfolio, Dance Studio Theater. San Jose State University. San Jose, CA
2014  some of its parts. Spring Concert, Redfield Proscenium Theater. Reno, CA
2014  …in space. Spring Dance Concert, Barn Theater. North Hollywood, CA
2013  Having Words V.2. Dance Bytes Series, Auditorium Theater’s Katten-Landou Studio. Chicago, IL
2012  In Other Words…for six. American College Dance Festival, Performing Arts Center. Modesto, CA
2012  The Take. American College Dance Festival, Performing Arts Center. Modesto, CA
2010  Requiem: The Death Scene (kind of).  Scripps Dance Concert, Garrison Theater. Claremont, CA
2010  O(h). Inbound Festival, Joyce SoHo. New York, NY
2009  two minute duet to open the show. Fringe Festival, Southern Theater. Minneapolis, MN
2009  Tracking. Scripps Dance Concert, Garrison Theater. Claremont, CA
2008  This and That Happen. Scripps Dance Concert, Garrison Theater. Claremont, CA
2008  In Other Words. New Dance Festival, Saint Joseph Ballet Theater. Santa Ana, CA
2008  Having Words. California Touring Project, Diavolo Dance Theater. Los Angeles, CA
2008  Seven. American College Dance Festival, Barklay Theater. Irvine, CA
2007  Queer Pas. Scripps Dance Concert, Garrison Theater. Claremont, CA
2006  Framed Permeation: Constructing Coincidence. Scripps Dance Concert, Garrison Theater. Claremont, CA
2006  it is what it is when it isn’t. Popped!, Highways Performance Space. Santa Monica, CA
2006  Second Skin. Popped!, Highways Performance Space
2006  Way Words. CONDER/dance Festival, Mesa Arts Center. Mesa, AZ
2006  After Words. Anatomy Riot, Zen Sushi. Silver Lake, CA
2005  Working Through Fourth. Scripps Dance Concert, Garrison Theater. Claremont, CA
2005  No No, She’s Straight!. Hysterica Dance Company Benefit, Focus Fish Studios. Hollywood, CA
2005  In the space provided. Phoenix Dance Festival, Phoenix Theater. Phoenix, AZ
2003  Tactical Interference. 4 x 4 Festival, Highways Performance Space. Santa Monica, CA

Press
“casebolt and smith (the dance duo of Liz Casebolt and Joel Smith) recounted the myth first in entertaining patter, while a video behind the stage projected classic paintings of the characters. The dancers began portraying campy Greek myth, but once a video montage of clips from “North by Northwest” and “Psycho” were projected on a screen, the dance turned into a surprisingly effective Hitchcockian Daphne and Apollo chase scene among the Partch instruments.” – The Los Angeles Times June, 2018

“Liz Casebolt and Joel Smith, a pair of California-based artists who perform as casebolt and smith, premiered a piece called (the) More i see, which reflects the gender expectations in male/female relationships, aided by a record player, a long row of album covers, and several interludes of slow dancing.” – The Phoenix New Times January, 2018

“It’s playful, humorous and the timing – comic and dance – is spot on…if I see another piece this year that’s as much fun, I’ll be doing very well indeed. The pair left you wanting to see the whole piece, which is about as good a recommendation as you can get.” – SeeingDance February, 2016

“Liz Casebolt and Joel Smith, two amiable Los Angeles choreographers who have worked together since 2006, have a mission: to demystify the choreographic process and make dance accessible. They strive to appeal, as Mr. Smith explained to an audience on Friday, to “non-highfalutin dance communities.” – New York Times March, 2014

“These two move and sing and make jokes with equal aplomb, targeting the pomposity and obscurity of modern dance.”– The New Yorker February, 2014

“Year in Review: Top 10 Dance Performances of 2013” – San Francisco Chronicle December, 2013

“[casebolt and smith], while skewering conventional thinking about dance, glide through the space with a blithe, airy quality that sustains them through the evening, and they integrate the spoken word and the gesture as well as anybody I have seen since David Gordon a generation ago.” – San Francisco Chronicle August, 2013

“For those who’ve suffered at the receiving end of Casebolt and Smith’s target subject, it’s like a breath of fresh air and also side-achingly funny. But it’s the clever way the pair integrate themes of gender identity/stereotyping and pose questions about artistic appropriation and the very nature of “contemporary” that add texture to O(h) and leave lots of food for thought. It’s a dance fan’s must-see.” – Toronto Star July 2013

“This likeable duo from L.A. are polished dancers, and there is a charming, playful energy between them that easily transfers to the audience. They clearly have thought seriously about dance, and present their conclusions to the audience with a cheeky nod to their influences.” – CBC Manitoba July, 2013

“The L.A.–based duo Casebolt and Smith combine talking, singing, and full-throttle dancing with a freshness that can delight or startle an audience—or make them laugh.” – Dance Magazine June, 2013

“The show’s best moments combine rapid-fire quips with beautifully executed moves, inviting your brain to fire on all cylinders.” – The Los Angeles Times January, 2012

“casebolt and smith are a postmodern Agnes de Milles, superimposing their gestural vocabulary with possible interpretations – and the witty range of possibilities may surprise you. At the same time as casebolt and smith lampoon theatrical conceits of contemporary dance, their self-reflexive work finds clever new possibilities in each choreographic building block.” – Stage and Cinema January, 2012

“The choreography is enlightening and witty… Exploring themes of personal expression through original song and dance, casebolt and smith give a sophisticated, coherent commentary on the multiplicity of genres in dance.” – Flavorpill January, 2012

“Part dance, part theater and refreshingly light-hearted, casebolt and smith’s O(h) is a welcome alternative to the dark-hued worlds of melancholia, depression and manipulative violence in which so many modern dance companies and their choreographers languish.” – (Go) LA Weekly January, 2012

“It’s funny, sly, wonderfully staged, imaginative, and quite perfect—even when it isn’t perfect at all.” – WeHo News February, 2012

“They’re clever, sometimes silly, and not afraid to talk as much as they dance.” – The New Yorker February, 2010

“[casebolt and smith]…create perhaps the most entertaining, engaging and explicative dance theater on the planet.”– Minn Post August, 2010

“In fact, they’re downright funny, especially when they take you inside their highly verbal means of creating a piece.”– Pioneer Press August, 2010

“What I especially appreciated was how sophisticated [casebolt and smith’s] foray into dance styles, issues, foibles, politics was, and at the same time how much it appealed to the broad audience the afternoon I attended” –  Linda Shapiro, Dance Critic (Dance Magazine, Gay City News) August, 2010

“casebolt and smith bring intimacy and directness, and a seriousness of purpose warmly wrapped in physicality, playfulness and humour.  They have the rare quality of a light, but sharp political edge in their work, which entertains as it makes you think and re-think.” – What’s On Northern Ireland May, 2010

“…they seem to have carved out a highly personal niche: vest-pocket dance theater filled with quick-on-draw gestural movement, self-revealing talk and quirky humor with a sense of urgency.” – Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Infinite Body February, 2010

“Their comedic timing was impeccable.” – The Dance Current, Vancouver Canada, March, 2008

“…you can’t help but mutter, ‘How do they do it?’ They fly through the space in lifts and frisky manipulations and prattle on with such ease, that you forget it’s a dance. You don’t want the physical conversation to end.” – SanDiego.com May, 2008

COURSES TAUGHT – University of California, Riverside, 2011- present
DNCE 005: Introduction to Dance
DNCE 014: Introduction to Choreography
DNCE 067C: Advanced Contemporary Technique
DNCE 073AB: Jazz Technique
DNCE 075B: Techniques and Practices
DNCE 114A: Composition I
DNCE 114B: Composition II
DNCE 114C: Composition III
DNCE 115E: Dance as Storytelling
DNCE 180J: Repertory
DNCE 180R: Pedagogy
DNCE 180G: Advanced Composition/Production
DNCE 189E: Senior Capstone Seminar
DNCE 190: Special Studies
DNCE 242: Dancing Representations: Figures, Forms and Frames (grad)
DNCE 243: Collaborating in Dance Making: Materials, Methods and Interactions (grad)
DNCE 244: Special Topics – Digital Applications
DNCE 290: Directed Studies (grad)
DNCE 291: Individualized Study in Coordinated Areas (grad)