Barbara Banasikowski Smith, founder and artistic
director of Greater Lansing Ballet, performed professionally with the Milwaukee Ballet Company directed by Jury Gottshalks,
Lupe Serrano and resident choreographer, Myron H. Nadel, the Operetta Carnival Ballet directed by Zachary Solov and the Limon
Dance Company in which she was soloist in Concerto Grosso. She received a BFA in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
and her MA in dance from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. She studied ballet at the Warsaw Ballet/Opera and Polish
ethnic dances at the University of Maria Curie Sklodowski in Lublin, Poland. Her teaching positions have included the University
of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Illinois, Michigan State University, Olivet College, Albion College and a year as artist
in residence in Oslo, Norway.
She established international relationships with dance artists by
designing one of the first cross-cultural exchange programs with the National School of Ballet in Gdansk, Poland. She is the
recipient of the Governor's and the City of Lansing merit awards for outstanding commitment to culture and fine arts in the
Lansing community. Nominated by Lansing's Mayor, she was awarded the prestigious Glen Taggart Award for Community Contribution
to International Understanding by the Michigan State University International Studies and Programs. In 2002, she was one of
25artists in seven disciplines awarded the Michigan ArtServe Creative Artist Grant to produce an original ballet having an
impact on the community. She received a resolution from the Lansing City Council for being the first Lansing artist to be
a recipient of such an award.
Greater Lansing Ballet Company, founded in 1990
is a semi-professional, non-profit ballet company providing dancers with a vehicle for performance opportunities in a professional
environment. The company enriches audiences of all ages by performing full-length classical ballets and original contemporary
ballets. The outreach program provides classroom experiences in schools and opportunities for rural and urban schools to see
the company's productions.
Greater Lansing Ballet has participated in two international cross-cultural
exchange projects: with the National Ballet School of Gdansk, Poland, touring in Poland and the Mid-West, and as representatives
of the Lansing Sister City, with St. Petersburg, Russia's renowned Vaganova Ballet Academy and the Mozaica Dance Troupe. The
company participated in its third Sister Cities exchange with the Vaganova Ballet Academy of St. Petersburg, Russia. In January
of 2003, the company hosted dancers from the Vaganova Ballet Academy which culminated in a collaborative concert in Lansing.
The exchange project has resulted in Maria Gribanova, instructor from the Vaganova Ballet Academy, as guest instructor during
Greater Lansing Ballet's summer program since 1997.
December, 2004, the company collaborated with TDS Metrocom
to present The Nutcracker accompanied by The Lansing
Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Steven Reineke
to a full house at the Lansing Center. The Lansing Symphony
has invited Greater Lansing Ballet Company as guest
performers to present The Firebird on April 23,2005
at MSU Wharton Center, Great Hall.
The company has received funding for its creative endeavors from
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs in a 2001 project grant, in 2003 a discretionary funds grant, and mini-grants
from The Arts Council Center of Greater Lansing, Inc., City of Lansing's General Funds Minigrant program, Capital Area Community
Foundation, Taubman, Camp Foundation, Weatherwax Foundation, Mabel Harris Trust and support from private donors. In 2004 the
company received a planning grant from Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies Community Partners to collaborate with
the Hispanic and Polish communities in Lansing. In 2005, the company is a recipient of a project grant from the Michigan Council
for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts to present an inter/intra cultural collaborative endeavor
with three other ethnic dance companies.