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Rising Stars: Meet Jason Rodgers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Rodgers.

Jason, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I describe my story as “Love at first shuffle”. My dance journey began at age seven as a pupil of Paul Kennedy & Arlene Kennedy at Universal Dance Design in Los Angeles, CA. The majority of my current teaching & performing style is a direct reflection of the standard they set for me & so many others that studied at their dance school. I’m a proud “Kennedy Kid” forever.

At age 15, I moved to New York & studied improvisation under Derick K. Grant at Funk University. Derick’s mentorship was a career-defining moment for me. I learned improvisation as a form of self-expression and artistic freedom. I still carry these philosophies with me today as I continue to evolve as a teacher/choreographer/performer.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’ve been blessed to have a great, injury-free career as a working professional tap dancer. But with that being said, It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. The struggles mostly involve moments when I have to show & prove to mainstream industry decision-makers that tap dance is NOT a trivial, niche art form that no longer holds relevancy. Throughout my career, I’ve realized that many people still view tap dance through the lense of outdated tropes, often labeling us “old school”, “nostalgic”, & “a dying art form” to name a few. Generalizations carry some truth in them. However, the real truth is that tap dancing is thriving and very much relevant today. I will be a part of this tap community forever so I will never give up fighting for it.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a TAP DANCE BASED ARTIST in every sense of those words. Tap dance is a unique foundational American art form by nature. But particularly, it’s a dance style that is a fusion of full-body movements w/ percussive feet. I specialize in my versatile music exploration as a tap dancer. Even when I choreograph non-tap dance routines, I still find the percussive rhythm in my movements because I’m always a tap dancer first. Traditionally tap dancers perform with mostly jazz-based music. Although I absolutely LOVE jazz music, I also love to create tap performances based on any type of music that inspires me. It can be any genre of music or it can be a completely original composition that I create from scratch.

I’m currently Tap Professor at USC’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, which is a huge honor.

I’m mostly proud of the countless human connections I’ve been fortunate to establish around the world through tap dance. I’ve taught and performed on 6 of our seven continents (Antarctica, you’re next) all because of this universal language called rhythm that we all exchange. I like to think I’m known for exploring musicality in odd time signatures (5/4, 7/4, 9/4, etc.) & for my unorthodox teaching style. What sets me apart is my complete flexibility when teaching or creating with others. I always have an organized plan of action when teaching tap dance classes. But I also believe it’s just as important for me to be open to adjusting my plan or even completely scrapping my plan based on the vibe of collaboration or the class I’m teaching. Flexibility is key.

What does success mean to you?
My success is directly connected to my effort & dedication in anything I pursue, devoid of its outcome. Whether it’s a creative project or an audition, it will always be a success as long as I try my absolute best. Success is ultimately determined by my level of effort in the journey, not the end result of the journey.

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Image Credits:

Profile photo credit: Anthony Mongiello Full body, photo credit in front of red curtain: John Cornicello

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