We had the good fortune of connecting with Robyn Gardenhire and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Robyn, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I have built my school and company by applying what my teachers offered me, how they gave me direction to and motivation to dance. My brand is to work hard and be specific in what you are asking for and what you are giving.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
City Ballet of Los Angeles is an organization that teaches the life lessons of ART dedication, desire, and to love what you are doing in your life. Having control of your body is a magical thing, learning to communicate without talking and having an elegance about yourself is a gift.

As a young dancer, I was able to cross over to many social circles because of my training in dance, I was usually the only woman of color. The world of ballet has not crossed over as easily. The ballet is very costly and there are very few schools in poor neighborhoods that are teaching dance at a high level. This is why I chose to build my school in downtown Los Angeles where the racial mix of families are located and to change the look of the ballet and to make it more inclusive.

I had a very sucsseful career dancing for Joffrey Ballet II, Cleveland Ballet, American Ballet Theater & White Oak Project. When dancing for American Ballet Theater I realized how little attention is paid in the hiring of minorit dancers and put in place a scholarship fund for students of color to study at the school its first recipient was Misty Copeland American Ballet Theaters first black principal dancer.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would have them take a visit to Griffith Park and to check out the little Trails Cafe and then up the road see the Observatory, then I would start down the way to the Arts District and have a lovely dinner at Manuela at Hauser & Wirth that also has a book store and galleries. To end the evening I would check out the Hollywood Bowl.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Iren Lewis is a person that has been a major supporting force in CBLA’s life. City Ballet of Los Angeles became a partner in 2000 and was able to offer classes for a small fee to students and the center donated three beautiful studios to our program. Without the donation of space, we would have not been able to build our program that servers underprivileged youth ages 3yr. – 16yr. for 20 years.

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