Creston Community High School sophomore Sasha Smith was given a golden opportunity when she was invited to choreograph the opening sequence for the Iowa Motion Picture Association Awards show on April 21 at the Historic Pella Opera House in Pella.
The interest in Sasha as choreographer came after her mother, Christine Smith, sent some footage of Sasha performing to Kevin Brubaker, a member of the IMPA board.
Brubaker said choosing a choreographer for the show wasn’t about choosing someone with the most experience.
“It was getting the person that had the most drive and interest to make something as successful as it was. I got to see some of her work, and when I met her, I was very impressed with her enthusiasm and her energy,” Brubaker said. “She was just finishing up the later part of show choir, so she had about nine years of dance experience and connection with working with groups of people. We were so excited that she was able to work her schedule so that she could come and participate and not only to do choreography for us, but also be able to dance with us and participate.”
Sasha said she was speechless when she got the call asking her to be lead choreographer for the opening sequence of the show.
“I’m just a kid,” she said. “I never would have expected to be able to be put in that kind of position. At first, I wasn’t even sure what I would be able to do because it was such a big job opportunity.”
Sasha knew from a young age that she wanted to be on Broadway and said her dream role, even though she knows she would not fit the part, would be Elizabeth Skylar from the show “Hamilton.”
“She was legitimately singing Broadway songs at 4 years old,” said Christine. “When other kids were listening to silly kids songs, she was wanting to listen to Barbara Streisand. Very unusual. We thought it was kind of funny.”
As a sophomore at Creston Community High School, Sasha has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She is a member of Spotlight pledge team, performs in Crest Area Theater productions as well as the theater and choir performances at CCHS. In addition to her involvement in performing arts in school, for the last two years, Sasha has been selected as a soloist at the Broadway camp held in Red Oak during the summer.
“Essentially, [the instructors at Broadway camp] work with the kids that have exceptional abilities in the area of musical theater,” said Christine. “[Participants] audition, and if they are good enough, they get a solo part and [the instructors] work with them one on one. Everybody gets to participate, but they are hand selected for the solos. She’s been to Broadway camp and selected for the solos two years in a row. There were three girls from our high school who were selected to participate last summer: Clarissa Hoffman, Payton Davis and Sasha.”
Sasha’s family is completely supportive of her desire to be on Broadway and Christine said every decision is based on making the dream a reality. She said she almost passed out when IMPA called to ask Sasha to ask her to work in the show.
“We didn’t know she was going to get paid,” Christine said. “We thought it was just an opportunity to build up her resume to go to Broadway. Everything we do is based off that future of her going into Broadway. Musical theater. She loves to sing, dance and act, and she’s wanted that since she was a child. It was really scary because it was quite a challenge. That’s all the way in Pella and we’re in Creston and we have jobs and she’s only 15 so she can’t drive, so it’s a lot of commitment from her parents.”
A lot credit, Sasha and Christine said, goes to her teachers.
“I have some great teachers at Spotlight,” Sasha said. “They’ve built me up to this position. They’ve helped bring me all this training. Everything that I really needed for this event and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
“We would like to say that the training that Sasha’s gotten from those instructors at the high school has actually been super helpful in her moving toward those abilities,” Christine added.
Brubaker doesn’t think anyone could have done a better job than Sasha in making the show successful.
“Even though people with more experience could have done a good job, I don’t think anyone could have done a better job or as well as,” Brubaker said. “Sasha took the reins and she stepped in and she got it done. I know some of the other people that were involved with the project were very impressed and very encouraging to Sasha’s development.”