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Jun 1, 2021

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Raymond Rodriguez, Abbott Academy Director at The Joffrey Ballet. Raymond, a New York City native, was trained at the American Ballet Theater on full scholarship and eventually led a high-profile career at the Cleveland Ballet. Upon retirement from the stage, Rodriguez moved into a dance education career with The Joffrey Ballet. In addition to his dance work, Raymond is a Screen Actors Guild member and has appeared in films and TV shows such as Rent, The Smurfs, and Dancing with the Stars.

As academy director, Raymond is looking to make dance more accessible for all. In his own words, ballet “enthralled” Rodriguez only after participating in the art form for six months. And, now, Raymond is hoping to share this joy with everyone. On the podcast, Raymond shares his own story and discusses his vision to make dance a more open, inclusive, and collaborative art form.


Moving Quotes:

"How do we make our academy inclusive for all? It's by communication — making all feel welcome. As I said earlier, Joffrey for all."

"I see our academy working on making dance accessible to all."

"Always study as a student, even if you are a professional. Work as a student. And expose yourself to all facets of the art form... Be curious... Don't just think that a dance education is studying the art form of dance physically. Open up your horizons into learning all aspects of the art form."

"After six months at my dance school, I was enthralled with ballet. I knew that this was my life. To this day, I'm still in the art form."

"I don't walk around with a pair of 'rose-colored glasses' on. I know there are obstacles to your dreams. But with hard work, you can persevere and succeed... The dance will not be stopped. We will continue on."

"Work hard. And if you have that dream, you can make it happen."

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

3:40: Raymond explains his role with the Joffrey Ballet and how he came to be Abbott Academy Director.

6:27: Raymond discusses his vision for the academy, which he helped develop in partnership with a high-profile consulting and strategy firm.

9:50: Raymond discusses how his academy’s summer intensive programs truly set his school apart from others.

12:36: Rodriguez explains how he manages to live and teach the values of the Joffrey Ballet to each student that goes through the academy.

15:13: Rodriguez walks through his personal dance journey and shares the incredible story of how he got accepted into his first dance school.

24:21: Raymond shares some advice for dancers who are looking to build a successful career.

26:08: In retrospect, Rodriguez discusses what he is most proud of through his seasoned career as a professional dancer.

28:40: Raymond looks to the future and gives a glimpse of where he hopes the Joffrey Academy of Dance is five years down the road. 

31:16: Rodriguez looks at the broader world of dance and discusses where he thinks the dance world is trending.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Raymond Rodriguez

The Joffrey Ballet