Jodie Gates

Founding Director, Professor of Dance

Ballet, Repertory, Advanced Composition, Senior Seminar

Jodie Gates is Professor of Dance at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. In October 2020, the University of Southern California designated her the Founding Director of the school. As the school’s first director, she was given unprecedented responsibility for implementing the artistic vision and creating a dance curriculum and faculty from the ground up. The resulting curriculum, called “The New Movement,” is a new hybrid model for dance – expressed in studio practice, music, choreography, performance, new media and scholarship – this new model immerses students in a variety of foundational dance styles, and has them become fluent in technologies, such as animation and video, that increasingly impact the dance world.

Formerly a tenured professor of dance at University of California, Irvine, she has mentored and taught graduate and undergraduate students as well as designed initiatives in higher education since 2006.

Ms. Gates was a celebrated principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet, as well as a principal guest artist with several companies around the world. Her guest appearances included the gala at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Benois de la Danse in Moscow, dancing Odette/Odile in Swan Lake at the Ballet de Monterrey, Mexico, to appearing in well-known festivals such as Spoleto in Italy, The Edinburgh Festival, the Nijinsky Festival in Hamburg, Germany, and The Melbourne Festival in Australia.

Her roles ranged from the repertoire of George Balanchine to contemporary pieces by Alvin Ailey, Sir Frederick Ashton and William Forsythe to an improvised collaboration with musician Ornette Coleman and dancer Savion Glover at the Cologne Music Festival. She has danced at the Bolshoi in Moscow, the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt, Germany, the Châtelet Theatre and Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and Sadler’s Wells in London, among other well-known venues.

She was a muse for celebrated choreographer Robert Joffrey, originating many roles while dancing with The Joffrey Ballet, and has worked with a host of renowned choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Agnes de Mille, Paul Taylor and Gerald Arpino.

Ms. Gates has taught master classes for several professional ballet and contemporary dance companies, both national and international.

As an internationally recognized choreographer, Ms. Gates has published more than 60 original dance works. She has been commissioned by dozens of dance companies and academic institutions, and her work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, the Juilliard School, Princeton University, American Ballet Theater, New York’s City Center Theater, Staatsballett Berlin, the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, the Vail International Dance Festival and many other venues and festivals. Her ballets have been called “visually compelling, powerful, beautiful” by the Philadelphia Inquirer and “richly textured and profound” by the Orange County Register.

She also regularly stages the ballets of renowned choreographer William Forsythe for companies such as the Paris Opera Ballet, Scottish Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Prague National Theatre Ballet, Zurich Opera Ballet, Teatro alla Scala, Houston Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet.

Locally, Ms. Gates is the founder and artistic director of Southern California’s award-winning Laguna Dance Festival. Since 2005, the organization has fostered artistic collaborations, furthered dance education and community engagement, and presented dozens of the nation’s top contemporary dance companies.

Ms. Gates’ honors include recognition by the American Association of University Women; an Altria/ABT fellowship from the American Ballet Theatre; Laguna Beach’s Artist of the Year Award; and was selected for the esteemed Jerome Robbins New Essential Works program.

Her dance education includes the School of American Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet School, the Milwaukee Ballet School and the Sacramento Ballet School.

She has been featured in numerous television programs and festivals, and has performed at the 1993 presidential inauguration, and before presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.