SunDance Guest Instructor: Roderick George
Roderick George was born in Houston, Texas, where he studied dance at Ben Stevenson’s Houston Ballet Academy. He continued to develop his skill by exploring other techniques at The Alvin Ailey School, Miami City Ballet, LINES Professional Program and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, TX. Before starting his professional career, he was a bronze winner of the Youth American Grand Prix in New York City in 2005 and was elected as a Presidential Scholar under the Young Arts Foundation in 2003, where he performed for the US President.
Roderick's career has included performing with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (NYC), Basel Ballet/ Theater Basel (Switzerland), the Goteborg Operan DansKompani (Sweden), and The Forsythe Company (Germany), in addition to collaborations with other great choreographers such as Peeping Tom, Jorma Elo, Jerome Bel, Jacopo Godani, William Forsythe, Johan Inger, Jiří Kylian, Sharon Eyal, Ohan Naharin, Benoit Swan-Pouffer, Richard Wherlock, Tino Seghal and many others. As a choreographer, Roderick has been commissioned by organizations including the University of Utah Dance, LA Contemporary Dance Company, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and in 2018 created RESET on Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre.
We enthusiastically welcome Roderick back to CCDT for our final SunDance 'Surprise Wednesday' this July 22nd to teach ballet masterclasses to our intensive dancers.
What first influenced you to begin dancing? When did you realize that you wanted to pursue dance and/or dance education professionally?
I went to a magnet elementary school where I began to study art and other curricula. I chose gymnastics, and I started to learn dance and gain understanding for grace and lines through it. As I got older, I was able to find my voice within. It was my safe place. As I recognized my gift, I saw it as a way to get out of my low socioeconomic status. My parents did the best that they could with their resources, and I reflect on how many young people are not able to get out of their communities. So, I reach out to them and share my experience and love for dance.
Why do you think you gravitated towards ballet/modern/the style of dance you are currently most engaged with?
My training has been those particular styles yet I love inserting urban social dances in my work and teachings. It’s in our lives and deep in my core.
What has been a career highlight for you?
Being selected to work with William Forsythe, and being selected as a Presidential Scholar within the Arts at the Kennedy Center at the age of 18.
What is a challenge that you have faced in your dance career and how did you overcome it?
Well, due to our current climate, most feel empowered to speak about race and for me, being black was hard. Also, my stature was difficult to overcome but I pushed and worked extremely hard to change directors', teachers', and audiences' perspectives of how they look at dance.
Do you have any advice for young, aspiring dancers?
Change the dance and the arts narrative by existing! We are political just for being... so, love dancing! It will be a hard journey but beautiful and worth the fight!
WATCH: Roderick teaches an open Contemporary Masterclass at CCDT in May 2019
CCDT's 2019 production of Light Years at Toronto's Fleck Dance Theatre
Photos by David Hou
Choreography by Roderick George
Dancers: Alexander Faraday, Paris Forbes, Jeffrey Lapira, Kaiya Lee, Makenna Martinez, Jaedyn Richards, Sydney Runions, Melodie Yeung
Costume Design by Roderick George with Production by Krista Dowson
Lighting Design by Arun Srinivasan
Roderick's performance photo by Jubai Battisti of DUST , choreography by Roderick George, kNoname Artist