Magazine article Dance Magazine

Jodie Gates: Festival Director

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Jodie Gates: Festival Director

Article excerpt

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"I was at the top of my game and ready to move on. I had performed every role I wanted to and worked with choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe and Robert Joffrey. I was 40 and didn't know what path I was going to take."

That's Jodie Gates, former ballerina with The Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Frankfurt Ballet, who, after a 25-year performance career, decided to make Southern California home. It was 2005 and Gates was starting to focus on her own choreography and teaching, choreographing and staging works of William Forsythe for major companies, when she began to consider starting a dance festival.

"I came to Laguna on a whim and noticed a void," says Gates. "During my career I'd danced at wonderful festivals--Jacob's Pillow, Spoleto--and since what I got out of festivals was a full experience in the art form, I thought I wanted to do the same here: bring high-quality dance to the community."

She began knocking on doors showing a picture of herself dancing and saying, 'My name is Jodie Gates and I have an idea. Will you help me?'" Her reputation from years with The Joffrey proved a draw, with the community rallying around her. Now in its sixth year, the Laguna Dance Festival, which takes place each spring and/or fall and has presented groups including Trey Mclntyre Project and Ballet X, has a budget of $165,000, raised mostly from grants, sponsorships, patrons and ticket sales. "Part of my success as a dancer was my focus, drive and perseverance. …

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