“Make Mistakes Beautifully”

By Tori Sexsmith,

When I came to Temple in 2017, I was 25 and knew that it was the right time for me to continue an education that I had started in 2011 at a different university. Temple spoke to me as a program for their value of both the academic side of dance as well as the techniques, opportunities for choreography, and the fact that within one department there are BFA, MA, MFA and PhD students all there to continue their studies and build on their passion of dance. Coming to Temple as a nontraditional student as well as a transfer student was one of the best choices I made. I was able to diversify my knowledge of different techniques, while working with teachers who were prominent in the Philadelphia dance community. The staff at Temple are willing to work with you, provide excellent feedback and help ensure that you are getting what you want out of your dance education.

What I learned at Temple…It is okay to start again, to say “I don’t know” and build yourself up from there. As dancers and artists, it is easy to feel like you need to know everything all of the time to justify and back up the choices you are making and the techniques you study. Not realizing that through study, hours of rehearsals, talking with your peers and teachers, attending guest workshops and performances that all of this will inform your answers and build character. I can say with certainty that I am not the same dancer I was before starting at Temple and I am glad. During my time, my main technical focus was in African Diasporic techniques, most of which I had not heard of nor studied before attending Temple. I started off uncomfortable with being new, with not understanding how to get my body to achieve the actions and spent much of my class time moving slow to figure it out. Through this experience of relearning my body and asking it change and unlearn prior habits I grew, not just physically but mentally. Dance once again became a broad and sweeping term that was more than I had known before.


Tori Sexsmith

I had the good fortune of being able to work with the late Dr. Teresa Benzwie before her passing and study Early Childhood Dance Education. My studies with Dr. B further affirmed my passion for education, and through her kindness and compassion she helped nourish the teacher in me. Her guidance and expertise in the field was a priceless gift from my time at Temple.


What I took away from Temple, was that it is important to take every opportunity that comes your way with the awareness that it might not be exactly what was expected or planned for…because there is something for you to learn. The teachers, your peers, the guests, and the administration all want you to succeed but success is not something that is easy or simply built. I hope to pass this information on to my students. There is a lot of value in being a lifelong learner, to take chances, and to make mistakes beautifully.

This fall, I started a new position as the dance teacher for the Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School (CASA) in Harrisburg, PA. CASA was a school that I attended in high school. I am living one of my dreams to teach in this school and continue to build a program that trains intelligent, well rounded dancers, and artistic collaborators. As I move forward, I would like to continue to explore dance by taking classes when possible and enjoying every opportunity I have to dance and do what I love.

Tori Sexsmith BFA in Dance 2019 Alumnus and Dance Teacher for CASA

Touring with Kariamu and Company

Touring with Kariamu and Company

After graduating Temple’s Dance Program with a B.F.A. in dance, I was fortunate enough to tour with Kariamu and Company. I will always be grateful for this experience because it is often hard for performers to get gigs straight away out of college, and sometimes dancers end up falling into a job that they do not enjoy. Kariamu and Company kept me grounded in what I wanted my life to be while I had a job that was the total opposite. Being able to tour gave me the chance to receive a glimpse into the life I am starting to journey on. I have terrible fear of heights and airplanes, but touring with Kariamu and Company made me suck it up. As a person of the arts, you will do anything for your craft because you know it is what makes you truly happy. From flights to hotel rooms to rehearsals and actual performances, I had a chance to really connect with other dancers who are in the same position I am or have been there and are now figuring out their next chapters in their dance career. It was great to learn from other dancers and have a genuine connection with other people who are just as hungry for this life as I am. What I also took away from this experience is that I have accomplished one thing outside of my college career that I am proud of. I have toured nationally for a play starring a five time Grammy nominated jazz singer, performed pieces by a choreographer who has developed her own dance technique called Umfundalai, and worked with an award-winning visual artist. I never really had the time to sit down and think about it. Being able to work with such a passionate family who started a story from scratch and turn it into a multifaceted show has been such a blessing. There will be times, as a performer, where you will question if this is the life for you, but always remember you have this beautiful spirit that can’t be confined to a 9-5 so let it flourish and just watch what magnificent things start to appear more and more each day because of it.


To learn more about Kariamu and Company and the Clothesline Muse, click here


-Sophiann Moore

Temple BFA 2015