Cari Smith Kirkland

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Cari Kirkland has had extensive experience in training and choreographing dancers and has owned and directed Bailey Fine Arts Centre, a performing arts school in Columbia, SC, since 1999. This is also her 20th year serving as the Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Columbia. Dance Theatre of Columbia is a non-profit organization, benefitting local children’s charities through presenting dance productions in the greater Columbia, SC area. In these positions, she has trained dancers and teachers in the rigors of ballet, tap, pointe, jazz, lyrical, theatrical, and other forms of dance, as well as preparing them for various stage productions such as Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Babes in Toyland, and her original dance production of Wizard of Oz. Some of these students have gone on to become working professionals in the arts as stage performers and dance instructors. As Artistic Director of the Bailey Fine Arts Competition Company, Mrs. Kirkland’s choreography and dancers have been adjudicated at regional and national competitions and have received many outstanding accolades including: 1st place at nationals, overall high score for a competition, multiple Elite scores and special judges awards, multiple 1st place Production number awards, and overall studio technique and sportsmanship awards.

Mrs. Kirkland has studied dance in New York and attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts. She has studied with such greats as Edward Villella (director of the Miami City Ballet), Mike Minery (world renowned tap artist), Carlos Lopez (A Chorus Line) and Finis Jhung (San Francisco, Joffrey, and Harkness Ballet Companies). She performed in the Spoleto Festival in Charleston and danced for an Eppic Productions television pilot featuring Steve Gatlin. Mrs. Kirkland has choreographed for numerous school and church productions in the Columbia area and taught drama, dance, and early childhood education with Excelsior! Academy (a fine arts program for homeschoolers - formerly Master’s Academy) for eleven years. In addition, she has worked as the dance instructor for Ben Lippen School, where she has also served on the Ben Lippen Fine Arts Team.



Bailey Fine Arts offers three state of the art dance rooms. Our unique floating sprung floor systems feature Harlequin Cascade surfaces, which are ideal for all genres of dance and are specially designed to protect a dancer's joints.