We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Olsen-Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julia, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
For as long as I could remember I always knew I wanted to dance. My first exposure to Ballet was when I was 3 years old. I was watching a tv broadcast of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker. My mother told me I was glued to the TV when it came on. Soon after I started my training in Ballet and ever since it was all I wanted to do. I dedicated myself and my life to dancing. It gave me ultimate joy and I strived to never stop moving and to never stop improving my craft.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been dancing for 28 years and every day of each of those years I ate, drank and slept dancing. Literally! When I was little my mom came in to check on me while I was sleeping and saw me dancing in my bed in my sleep. She always giggled when she would talk about it . She thought it was sweet and amazing how much I loved to dance. Once I began my ballet training it was where I put all my focus. I started homeschooling so I could have more time to train. Even in the beginning at a very young age I was dancing almost every day, and it was my choice. No one ever pushed me to do it. It was what I wanted. I was truly dedicated to the art. Dancing made me happy. Like many others, I had struggles. My mother and I had hard times and sadness, but for me with dance I felt an energy, a release inside me with the movements and the music. I was very shy when I was a child, but as soon as I went into that studio or went on that stage I exploded. Everyone who knew me said it was so amazing to see me dance. I changed and I became fearless whenever I was dancing. Before I started homeschooling I attended catholic school. My teachers had said to me and my mother that they were very worried about me because I was so quiet and shy. They said I would not amount to anything. Following my passion, I did was I was born to do, what came naturally to me, and it was dance. I trained with Joffrey in New York City throughout the years and when I was 15 years old I received my first professional job with a local company in California. Later on, after dancing with several companies, I decided to start my own professional ballet company and school. At 19 years old San Gorgonio Ballet was born. I had full support from my Mother and Father figure and mentor Mr. John Magnus. I staged my first professional company performance with his choreography and directing in 2004. I wanted to share the wonderful training and experiences I had received and encourage a humble, but confident atmosphere for students and professionals of all ages. I have also always enjoyed choreographing since I was young and used to choreograph my own little ballets at 5 years old. I received my first commission to choreograph at 15 years old. In 2003 when I founded my school and company I continued dancing professionally and started creating my own pieces and full length Ballets, expressing my creativity and artistry on myself and other dancers. In the 17 plus years with my company I created over 37 original works. One I am most proud of is my original ballet “Remember Charlie, A Tribute to Charles Chaplin”. A ballet I created out of admiration of the genius work of the music, story, and acting of Mr Chaplin. Preparation took about 18 months before going into rehearsals. This included receiving the licensing contract to use Mr Chaplin’s musical compositions from his films and his “Little Tramp” image/character. Direct discussions and approvals were through a representative of his archives as well as his daughter Geraldine Chaplin. This process took a great deal of research on Mr. Chaplin and his work; finding the right dancers and actors to perform the parts, and finding authentic clothing from his era (1914 – 1950’s). My Ballet is proudly in the archives of Mr. Chaplin. The idea and choreography is copyrighted San Gorgonio Ballet. Till this day I continue to dance, create.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The beach. Carlsbad, Ca to be exact. The ocean has always been my favorite and most relaxing place to be. It’s beautiful and never to busy in Carlsbad. We would stay in a hotel near the beach , two minute walking distance. Catch a lot sun and water time. Eat at Harbor Fish which is right at the ocean. They have the best fish n chips. Another great restaurant we would have to visit is a little Italian place called Jay’s Gourmet Seafood and Pizza. We would walk through the village shopping around in the antique store, the Italian specialty foods store, the beach shops (one of my favorites is the Offshore Surf Shop right near the ocean). Every fun shop and delicious restaurant you could think of is just around the corner. We would also have to visit Old Town San Diego riding the Coaster train to get there. We would walk around the fun atmospheric old town, making a stop at the fudge and candy shop, browse around at the unique shops and eat amazing Mexican food at several of the delicious Mexican restaurants there.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Mother, Elizabeth Olsen was my biggest supporter. She was with me every step of the way. Making sacrifices and devoting so much love and time. My Father Figure and Mentor, dearly departed John Magnus . Our relationship began when I was 10 years old at the Joffrey Ballet School. He taught me everything about being a smart, strong, clean dancer, choreographer, director and professional and humble person.