FACES of Orange County 2017

No. 22 Dance

Jodie Gates, Founder of LAGUNA DANCE FESTIVAL

Ask Jodie Gates what she loves best about her job and she’s quick to set the record straight. “I have never felt as though dance education or performance or being a director was a job, it is part of my DNA and defines who I am as an arts leader and individual.”

For 25 years, the acclaimed ballerina laced up pointe shoes and pirouetted on stages across the globe. When Gates decided to hang up those satiny slippers, she traded New York City for the sunny shores of California and founded Laguna Dance Festival. She is also currently the Vice Dean of the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

The Laguna Beach based nonprofi t was the essence of a grassroots startup. Th e group of founders envisioned a company that would not only bring beautiful dance productions to the Orange County stage but also provide an educational backdrop and thriving community resource for its residents.

That vision was a self-fulfilling prophesy. City Council, local business leaders and other non-profi ts all made Laguna Dance Festival a reality. The company survives thanks to the support of the community.

All of that is what runs through Gates’ veins. “I enjoy speaking to audience goers and dance students after they have attended a Laguna Dance Festival event. Very often it is life changing and impactful in ways I could have never imagined.”

Tickets for Festival events Sept. 7–17,go on sale July 15 | For more information visit lagunadancefestival.org.

Photograph by Jason Wallis Photography