Born in 1977 to renowned jazz dancers Sue Samuels & Jo Jo Smith, Elka spent her first years of life growing up at JoJo’s Dance Factory in New York City. Her passion for dance was both innate and nurtured throughly by the diverse offerings of dance and live music that were a natural part of her everyday life. Training has included a variety of dance forms both informally and formally including jazz, tap, ballet, african, hip hop, belly dance and salsa originally from teachers at Broadway Dance Center as part of the Frank Hatchett Professional Children’s program and beyond. Additional training in Afro- cuban at Alvin Ailey and Afro-Brazilian dance and percussion styles at Djoniba, Alvin Ailey and several years of month-long intensives in Salvador – Bahia, Brazil. Performances (dancer/percussionist) include Sadlers Wells Sampled (London), T.W.A.P.A. (Dance Captain), Sesame Street, LA Gear Commercial, 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center, SOBs, Arrastao do Dende, Debbie Allen’s “Cool Women” and several music videos. She has also taught Tap at Broadway Dance Center, Hip Hop/ Dancehall at The Door and has both substituted and assisted in Michele Bastos’ and Janete Silva’s Afro-Brazilian dance and for Sue Samuels’ Jazz classes at Broadway Dance Center including for two years at the annual Brazil International Jazz Dance Congress and the Dance Teacher Summit in NYC.
Since 2002, Elka has been running Divine Rhythm Productions, a company created under the inspiration of brother and Emmy Award-winning choreographer Jason Samuels Smith, offering business management and production services to Professional Tap Dancers, choreographers and performers worldwide. Since then, she has managed, consulted and serviced over 40 different artists/dance companies around the globe. She has also served as a production and company manager for Jason Samuels Smith’s acclaimed company A.C.G.I. as well as for several other clients. As a contributing writer, her work has appeared in Dance Spirit and across several Dance Blogs, in addition to creating press releases and successful grants leading to awards for clientele. As a producer, she co-produced/directed the Harlem Jazz Dance Festival, T.A.A.P. at Swing 46 (founder & producer), Mr. Wiggles’ Wreck Session & Hip Hop Camp (co-founder), Annual Master Tap Workshops at Steps (co-founder) and Ladies Get Down (Hip Hop Workshop & Award show) and was an associate producer for Capezio’s 125th Anniversary Celebration at NY City Center. Elka has both presented and composed awards for the NY Dance & Performance Awards, serving for three years on the Bessie committee, two of which were as co-chair of the Boundary Breaking committee. She was a speaker at Dance NYC’s annual Symposium in NYC and has offered seminars for aspiring and working artists at Broadway Theatre Project and beyond. Elka currently serves on the advisory committee for the Brooklyn Dance Festival and continues to advise and consult for artists, dance film makers, and festival producers worldwide.