"If you can see how beautiful your culture is," China Smith told Austin360, "you can see how beautiful you are." After eight years of teaching dance in East Austin schools, China realized how few opportunities there were to expose students to black art, something she believes is vital to the self-empowerment of her young students. This realization led her to found Ballet Afrique, a performing ensemble and dance studio that blends classical ballet and modern dance with African American culture. Ballet Afrique's team of artists aim to enrich the lives of performers, audiences, and students alike under the belief that expressive movement "transcends race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds."
In addition to their performances and lectures, the rhythmically inclined dancers also teach classes from their tranquil studio, drawing in pupils of all ages and experience levels. Young twinkle toes learn the fundamentals of ballet, modern, and African dance, and an all-male tap dancing class for ages 9–17 encourages bonding, mentorship, and new ways to communicate with the downstairs neighbors.