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Laguna Dance Festival Evolves as Jodie Gates Moves to a New Position in Cincinnati

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

The Los Angeles-based dance company Bodytraffic will perform as part of the 2022 Laguna Dance Festival. Credit: Photo courtesy of Laguna Dance Festival/Bodytraffic

Laguna Dance Festival founder Jodie Gates is embarking on a new adventure over 2,000 miles away from the place she’s called home for the last 17 years.

The festival announced in January that Gates has been named the artistic director of Cincinnati Ballet, with her tenure starting earlier this week on Aug. 1. Gates replaces Victoria Morgan, who announced last September that she was stepping down after 25 years in the job.

“The opportunity to join the Cincinnati Ballet and lead such an esteemed organization was a big life decision for me as I’ve called Laguna Beach home since 2005,” Gates said. “In this season of my life, I have all the skill sets and expertise. I have a sense of my style. I have done admin. I know how to program, so I felt compelled.”

Gates has been innovative in shaping Southern California’s dance scene as a presenter, arts educator, and creator of groundbreaking performances.

Her move to Cincinnati Ballet follows a wave of female appointments to leadership positions in the industry and allows her to expand her work of evolving the narrative and perspective of ballet.

“I feel so fortunate to be in the company of these amazing, powerful women ballet leaders and I look forward to sharing and collaborating as women tend to do,” Gates said. “In this role, I am excited to present the classics through a contemporary lens, to tell the stories from a female perspective. I am a change agent and shapeshifter and I continue to do the work of progressing and demystifying ballet.”

Gates will set the artistic direction of the company that includes 27 company artists and 14 second company dancers, as well as the Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy Professional Training Division.

Her move from Orange County marks a shift, but not an end, to a dynamic, artistically vibrant 17-year tenure that’s given Southern California some of its finest dance performances in recent memory.

This full story can be accessed for free in its entirety at Voice of OC.



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