Crystal Lewis brings national dance experience to LSMSA

aaCrystal Lewis

The Louisiana School of Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) is full of talented and experienced lecturers who are teaching some of Louisiana’s brightest students. The school’s new Dance Instructor, Crystal Lewis, has joined the ranks as another educator with a rich history of training, teaching and travelling under her belt.

New to Natchitoches, Louisiana, Lewis is coming to LSMSA after having taught as an adjunct professor and residency artist all over the country. These include several community colleges in Arizona, Barry University in Florida, Casper College in Wyoming, Radford University in Virginia, and Abilene Christian University in Texas. She also performed with several dance companies while in these areas.

Having traveled for several years through her work, she is ready to make a home in Natchitoches. In addition to her position at LSMSA, Lewis will also be teaching courses at Northwestern State University.

“It’s been great, because I have gotten to see the ins and outs of a lot of different dance programs,” said Lewis. “It’s also kind of hard in that you kind of feel uprooted all the time. I’m ready to put down some roots, and I’m really excited to be here at LSMSA.”

Lewis started off in gymnastics as a child, but she always knew her passion was in dance.

“I’d make up choreography before I even knew what choreography was,” she said.

In her sophomore year of high school, she took her first official dance class – a Jazz and Ballet technique class – and fell in love with it. From there, she went on to Glendale Community College in Arizona to work on her Associates of Arts in Dance.

Originally, she had quit a year into her program.

“I thought ‘I just want to dance professionally!’” she joked.

However, she realized the importance of her education and finished out the program. She then went on to Southeast Missouri State University to receive her bachelor’s degree and then to Sam Houston State University in Texas where she received her Master of Fine Art in Dance. As a graduate assistant at Sam Houston, she discovered her love for teaching.

Currently, Lewis is offering Introduction to Dance, Beginning and Intermediate Modern Dance, and Dance Ensemble. In her Introduction class, she plans to use the semester to explore some of the dance world’s most prominent dance forms.

“I changed the course a little to make it a survey of dance,” she said. “The students can take a Ballet section, a Modern section, and a Jazz section, so they get a sampling of all three. Eventually, I would like to offer separate classes for each of these techniques, so students who like one form will have the chance to explore it further.”

One of Lewis’s goals is to make students feel as comfortable as possible when dancing.

“It’s important to me to create a safe learning environment, especially with novice dancers,” she said. “Dancing in front of others and learning new things can feel vulnerable, so I like to create a community in my classes that can support each other.”

When it comes to dance, Lewis hopes that students take away a feeling of accomplishment and an appreciation of the art form.

“I really enjoy the moment when I see students pick up something that they’ve been working on all semester—like a pirouette—and then suddenly it happens for them. I love celebrating those moments where they feel like they’ve accomplished something. I hope that it helps them with their self-confidence and that it helps them dig into their own creativity.”

LSMSA’s Creative & Performing Arts Department offers a robust arts curriculum to students of all talent levels. To view course listings, programs, and faculty, visit http://www.LSMSA.edu/arts.

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