Jodie Gates is Cincinnati Ballet’s next artistic director, continuing the company’s trailblazing history of female leadership.
Gates will take over Aug. 1 from current artistic director Victoria Morgan, who will retire at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 season after 25 years as the company’s artistic leader.
For 35 years, Gates has contributed to the profession as a leader, artistic director, arts educator, stager, choreographer and dancer. She is a former principal ballet dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
Gates will set the artistic direction of the Company that includes 27 company artists and 12 second-company dancers, as well as the Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy Professional Training Division, and all Academy training divisions.
Gates inherits a company that has experienced rapid growth during the last five years. Cincinnati Ballet completed and exceeded its $30.8 million dollar capital campaign to fund the state-of-the-art, 57,000-square-foot Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance in Walnut Hills, which officially opened in September 2021. The company’s operating budget has also grown to $11.5 million for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
“I envision a future for the art form where ballet is for everyone, for all communities; I would love for people to find themselves in our dances,” Gates said.
Gates comes to Cincinnati from Los Angeles, where she is most recently 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 in Laguna Beach, California.
Gates is also an accomplished choreographer, as well as an artistic collaborator with choreographer William Forsythe, staging ballets internationally for Forsythe Productions.
“Jodie brings with her more than three decades of excellence and innovation on the international stage,” said Scott Altman, Cincinnati Ballet president and CEO. “She has a deep respect for the history of the art form and brings an incredible passion for its future.”
In June 2021, The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University awarded Ms. Gates the distinguished 2021/2022 Residency Fellowship. The 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.
Gates’ professional career began with the mentorship of the visionary director Robert Joffrey. She originated many roles and collaborated with a host of renowned choreographers, including Alonzo King, Agnes de Mille, Paul Taylor, William Forsythe, Martha Clarke, and Mark Morris.
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.
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.
“I am thrilled for Cincinnati Ballet to attract such exceptional talent,” said Morgan. “Jodie has worked closely with our art form’s most influential icons. Dance legends have been her personal coaches and teachers.”
As a recognized female ballet choreographer, Gates has also created more than 60 original dance works. She has created commissioned work for dozens of dance companies and academic institutions, as well as created work for ad campaigns, commercials, and events including choreography for singer/songwriter John Legend.
She has been commissioned by Ballet West, Staatsballett Berlin, Kansas City Ballet, Colorado Ballet, BalletX, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, among others.
Her teaching credentials include invitations to teach professional companies such as New York City Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as performing arts schools and academic institutions.