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May 4, 2021

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Julia Rhoads — founder, director, and producer at Lucky Plush Productions and lecturer and dance advisor at the University of Chicago. Julia is a seasoned dancer and artist, having danced and choreographed at a wide variety of companies. Her work has been featured in Dance Magazine and other prominent publications. Now, Julia leads her dance company — Lucky Plush Productions — which offers a unique blend of different arts disciplines and has toured globally, including performances in New Zealand and Cuba. 

Julia is a lover of all different types of art, and that love is portrayed through her company’s unique work. On the podcast, that love shines through, as she discusses her company’s unique style, her experiences touring the world, why her formal education has advantaged her in the dance community, and why continuously making art is critical to life success and human flourishing.


Moving Quotes:

"When I approach my work, I think of it as a mix of the intellectual side and the artistic side... I think the best way to learn is both the intellectual pursuit and the embodied pursuit."

"Now, there is such an emphasis on the arts in non-arts fields. Thinking outside of the box — having a creative approach to big problems — is incredibly important."

“There's something unique about Lucky Plush’s artistic vision in that we are very interdisciplinary... We're drawing from a lot of different languages to move the work forward."

"I'm so grateful that I had a lot of different experiences in a lot of different fields because I brought all of that to my work with Lucky Plush."

"We always want to make the work very accessible. So there are through-lines where it might toggle between English and Spanish as a way to not only demonstrate who we are as a company but also to reach people in different ways."

"In Chicago, the dance field is so incredibly vibrant. I still feel like I'm scratching the surface of everything here in Chicago... I feel really blessed."

"You don't have to go straight into a professional career in order to have professional experience in dance. There are so many opportunities for young dancers to participate in professional work, while working in other fields they're interested in."

"A lot of times, it's not until you get to college that you really get to see the field. You really begin to see what's possible in dance."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:29: Julia describes her company — Lucky Plush Productions — and what makes the company unique.

5:15: Julia discusses the events surrounding her company’s receipt of the MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions and how this award has made her company resilient.

7:27: Rhoads describes why she believes Lucky Plush is the only dance company to have ever received this MacArthur Award.

10:50: Julia, who has toured globally with Lucky Plush, discusses traveling the world with her company and, specifically, how they landed gigs in New Zealand and Cuba.

14:07: Rhoads — a prominent woman leader — shares some thoughts on the importance of women in arts leadership roles.

16:12: Rhoads, who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, discusses the advantage that her higher education has given to her work as an artist and teacher.

19:22: Julia shares some advice for any dancers that are weighing the choice of whether to pursue a college degree.

23:15: Rhoads speaks to the many job options for dancers, even if the position isn’t necessarily performance on a stage.

26:56: Rhoads looks to her and her company’s futures and discusses looking forward to returning to shared experiences, post-pandemic.

29:51: Julia rounds out the conversation with some advice for younger dancers on how to be successful in dance and in life.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Julia Rhoads

Lucky Plush Productions