Jodie Gates has established a significant career in the dance field. For 35 years she has contributed to the profession as a visionary leader, artistic director, arts educator, stager, choreographer, and dancer. She is a former principal ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
She is the Founding Director of the University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, and Artistic Director and Founder of the Laguna Dance Festival based in Laguna Beach, California. She is an accomplished choreographer, as well as an artistic collaborator with choreographer William Forsythe, staging ballets internationally for Forsythe Productions. In June 2021, she was awarded the distinguished 2021/2022 Residency Fellowship from The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. Her Fellowship acknowledges her most recent work as initiator for the Artistic Directors Coalition for Ballet in America, a group of artistic directors, choreographers, and educators who are addressing systemic racism and inequities within the culture of ballet.
Ms. Gates is a well-known principal ballerina and was a principal guest artist with prominent companies internationally. During her performing career at Joffrey Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet, she danced title roles in the classical full-length ballets and principal roles in neo-classical and modern dance works, and collaborated with numerous choreographers, as well as historic reconstructions and revivals.
Ms. Gates’ performing career began with the mentorship of the visionary director Robert Joffrey. She originated many roles and worked with a host of renowned choreographers, including Alonzo King, Agnes de Mille, Paul Taylor, William Forsythe, Martha Clarke, and Mark Morris. She has been featured in several publications since 1984, and in articles in dance magazines, dance reviews and has appeared in numerous television programs and festivals. She was featured at the 1993 presidential inauguration, and previously had the honor to perform at The Kennedy Center for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Her performing career ranged from full-length productions such as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, the title roles in Giselle and Cinderella, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Swanhilda in Coppélia, to principal roles in repertoire by George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Dwight Rhoden, Alvin Ailey, Sir Frederick Ashton, and several reconstructions, including dancing the role as The Chosen One in Vaslav Nijinsky’s, The Rite of Spring. She collaborated in an improvised production with jazz musician Ornette Coleman and tap dancer Savion Glover at the Cologne Music Festival and with was featured in the Joffrey Ballet’s production, Billboards, with music by Prince. Her guest appearances include galas at The Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, and dancing Odette/Odile with Fernando Bujones in Swan Lake at the Ballet de Monterrey, Mexico, to appearing in well-known festivals in Spoleto Italy, The Edinburgh Festival, The Nijinsky Festival in Hamburg, Germany, and The Melbourne Festival in Australia. She has danced at the Bolshoi in Moscow, Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt Germany, Chantelle Theatre and Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris France, Sadler’s Wells in London, The Kennedy Center, New York’s City Center and Lincoln Center, Los Angeles Music Center, and the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, among other established venues nationally.
Since 2005, Ms. Gates’ artistic vision for the Laguna Dance Festival has fostered artistic collaborations and choreographic commissions, while also providing youth scholarships and opportunities for pre-professional and professional dancers. The non-profit organization presents internationally-acclaimed dance artists and the nation’s top contemporary dance companies. The organization’s mission is to present world-class dance performance, increase public appreciation for the art, and provide quality dance education.
As a recognized female ballet choreographer, Ms. Gates has created more than 60 original dance works. She has been commissioned by dozens of dance companies, Los Angeles Tourism global ad campaign, site-specific events including choreography for singer/songwriter John Legend, television commercials for USC, and choreographic commissions for academic institutions. Her work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, New York’s City Center Theater, Deutsche Oper Berlin, The Joyce Theater, Princeton University, the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, the Vail International Dance Festival, and many other venues. She has been commissioned by Ballet West, Staatsballett Berlin, Kansas City Ballet, Colorado Ballet, BalletX, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and several more. Her ballets have been called “visually compelling, powerful, beautiful” by the Philadelphia Inquirer and “richly textured and profound” by the Orange County Register.
She regularly stages dance works for Forsythe Productions, all ballets created by choreographer William Forsythe. She continues to coach professionals and stage productions for companies such as Paris Opera Ballet, Scottish Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Prague National Theatre Ballet, Zurich Opera Ballet, Teatro alla Scala, Ballet West, Houston Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet.
Her teaching credentials include invitations to teach professional companies such as New York City Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem, and performing arts schools and academic institutions. While guest teaching for companies and contributing to higher education, she has had the opportunity to create partnerships, build a professional network, design and implement an artistic vision, and produce forward-thinking curricula. Formerly she was a tenured Professor of Dance at the University of California, Irvine, where she worked closely with Donald McKayle, and honed her skills as an educator and mentor. She has been a pre-professional teacher and mentor, and a judge for Youth America Grand Prix and Universal Ballet. Ms. Gates’ most recent accomplishment as the Founding Director of the University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance was a monumental success. She was given the unprecedented responsibility for implementing the artistic vision, creating a robust dance curriculum, and hire faculty and staff from the ground up. The result, The New Movement, is a new hybrid model for dance – expressed in studio practice, music, choreography, performance, new media, and scholarship – this model explores performance and choreography while engaging with rigorous academic studies at USC.
Ms. Gates received a Psychology of Leadership Certificate from Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business and studied with the Higher Education Leadership Program for Women (HERS Institute) at Bryn Mawr College. Her honors include the 2021/22 Residency Fellowship from The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, recognition for Arts Leadership by the American Association of University Women, Altria/ABT fellowship from American Ballet Theatre, honoree from Arts Orange County, and a recipient of the esteemed Jerome Robbins New Essential Works program.