A Conversation With Jodie Gates: The Cincinnati Ballet Director’s Vision Comes Into Focus

By Steve Sucato for Pointe Magazine

When Jodie Gates was named Cincinnati Ballet’s new artistic director, succeeding Victoria Morgan, she came to the position with a wealth of industry knowledge and decades-long dance experience. Back in January, she talked to Pointe about her big-picture vision for where she wanted to take the company.

Now, having officially begun her journey with Cincinnati Ballet—which is currently in the midst of its season-opening Kaplan New Works Series—Gates spoke with us again to outline key aspects of her plans and desires for both the company and the organization going forward.

You mentioned before how equity, diversity and inclusion will play important roles in your vision for Cincinnati Ballet. What steps will you be taking towards those ends?

I had specified when I was hired that I wanted to align with a consultant that would be working with the organization on what we call IIDEA (identity, inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility). We have begun talking with the consultant and our staff about what a sense of belonging means in the workspace, and how can we do better at that. On a community level, we are in conversations with other organizations looking to collaborate with Black and brown artists. We are also, going forward, looking for more representation in our staff and on the stage.

Are there specific things you want to see happen as a result of working with the consultant?

No. As an active listener I would like to be a part of creating a culture of belonging and seeing where I can improve my own skill sets. My hope is with the consultant we create a brave space where everyone can express themselves. The organization is growing, and we have big dreams, and all of that is wonderful, but it has to be supported by a healthy work culture.

How has IIDEA impacted your dancer roster for the 2022–23 season?

We have 28 dancers now, with most returning from last season. The few openings we had I filled with two BIPOC individuals. Also, two BIPOC dancers from our Academy’s Professional Training Division were moved up into the second company, CB2.

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