Judith wears a cowboy hat as a monarch butterfly rests on her nose.

Judith Smith

National Dance Project Advisor
AXIS Dance Company
Land of the Ohlone, Muwekma, and Chochenyo Peoples (Oakland, CA)


Judith Smith, Founder and Director Emerita of AXIS Dance Company, is one of the world’s driving forces in physically integrated dance. Under Judith’s direction AXIS commissioned more than 35 works from the nation’s best choreographers and composers; toured to over 100 cities and appeared twice on FOX TV’S So You Think You Can Dance. She led the development of the field’s most extensive integrated dance education/outreach programs with a range of programs serving all ages, abilities and interests from recreation to the pursuit of a professional career.  

Her advocacy/equity work led to the first-ever National Convening on the Future of Physically Integrated Dance in the USA. This project culminated in an extensive report and the launch of the AXIS Artistic Advancement Platform to Advance Artistry, Opportunity and Equity for Dancers with Disabilities. She was instrumental in the creation of the Dance/USA Disability and Dance Affinity Group and co-chairs the group. 

Her awards include the Alameda County Arts Leadership Award; KQED’s Local Hero; an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Sustained Achievement; the O2 Initiatives Sabbatical Award; Red Oak Foundations’ inaugural Community Excellence Award and she is one of Theatre Bay Area’s 40 people that have changed the face of Bay Area theatre. Judith was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2020. 

Judith is an independent consultant in dance and disability equity. She is an activist for the environment, animals and people with disabilities. She gardens for pollinators, birdwatches, raises butterflies, fosters squirrels and is involved in thoroughbred racehorse rescue and adaptive carriage driving. 

Photo by Jake Doolittle

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