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Laguna is for dancers

September 26, 2009 | 11:30 am


As soon as Jodie Gates settled in Laguna Beach, she knew what she had to do. After a high-profile career performing with the Joffrey, Pennsylvania and Frankfurt ballets, the Sacramento native returned to her home state in 2005. She felt the area was dance-deprived, but she also sensed great potential and boldly launched the Laguna Dance Festival. 

“I wanted to bring high-quality dance to the community. I saw there was a possibility for something like a festival,” Gates said recently.  “Quite frankly, having a dance company in Southern California has been challenging, at best, over the years. But I thought, something that’s community-oriented, yet brings in nationally recognized talent, and is an annual event, might be supported by the community.”

She got the festival started so quickly that she didn’t have time to establish her own nonprofit, so she ran it under the umbrella of another organization. This year is its fourth under the auspices of CaDance, her presenting organization. The three-week schedule event includes varied educational and outreach programs, and it culminates next weekend with three performances at the Artists’ Theatre.

Next week’s performances will introduce Ballet West, from Salt Lake City, and BalletX (whose choreographer, Matthew Neenan, Gates met dancing with Pennsylvania Ballet) to Orange County audiences. Also performing are Breed, a local hip-hop troupe; Sacramento Ballet; and aerial dancer Rachel Bowman.

Click here to find out more about the dance fest.

Photo: Jodie Gates, teacher, dancer and festival organizer, in the studio.

Credit: Christine Cotter/Los Angeles Times