Laguna Dance Festival founder departs for Cincinnati Ballet

Laguna Dance Festival founder Jodie Gates teaches ballet to dance students. Photo courtesy of Sarah Delgado

Laguna Dance Festival recently announced its founder has been named artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy.

Gates will depart Laguna Beach after 17 years with the nonprofit that has featured nationally and internationally-recognized companies and artists.

“The opportunity to join the Cincinnatti Ballet and lead such an esteemed organization was a big life decision for me as I’ve called Laugna Beach home since 2005,” Gates said in a press release. “I am incredibly grateful to the current board of directors and team members, our past board members dedicated patrons and the community for allowing me to bring my vision for professional dance productions and education to Laguna Beach.”

Gates brings 35 years of dance industry experience to Cincinnati, including a stint as founding director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

Like many nonprofits, Laguna Dance Festival got creative to continue supporting dancers and choreographers after COVID-19 shuttered indoor venues. Festival organizers led by Gates presented their 2020 winter season as a virtual event series presenting international flamenco dancer Irene Rodríguez, who was filmed performing in Laguna Beach.

Gates promised to continue advocating for the local arts community and will keep her residence in town.

“Jodie has given so much of herself to the creation and ongoing mission of the Laguna Dance Festival,” Amanda Paracuellos, chair of Laguna Dance Festival’s Board of Directors, said in a press release. “We wish Jodie the best in this new role, and look forward to watching the creative works that will come out of the Cincinnati Ballet in the coming seasons.”

The Board of Directors has formed a search committee to find Gates’ successor.

For more information about the Festival, please visit

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