Performer brings elaborate scenarios to Chula Visa

Laura Hodge’s vision is to build bridges between the arts

Laura Hodge

Tell us about your background and how you ended up in San Diego?

I was born and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I attended Point Park University first as a dance major, then started acting and hanging out with the theatre crowd. I went on to perform as a soloist with dance theatre companies, The Physical Theatre Project, my own Ampersand Dance Theatre-with a repertoire of Choreography, did Commedia Del’Arte with the Pittsburgh Mime theatre, and did a lot of Theatre, and film.
In Pittsburgh, my first business Helios Arts was a combination Dance Studio and Art Gallery.
From there I formed Ampersand Dance Theatre, a company of dancers, actors, artists, and musicians—both were award winning companies.
I moved to LA in the 90’s to pursue acting. While there, going to auditions, working on small parts in film and TV, I auditioned for and was cast in a West Coast touring show that originated and rehearsed in San Diego. We were put up at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park. I fell in love with San Diego, and moved here after the tour.
I went back to Pittsburgh for some of the 2000’s to be with family, and moved back here in 2012.

How long have you been interested in the arts as a career path?

People often ask when did you get into this? The answer is unknown.
As far back as I can recall, I have been imagining elaborate scenarios for dance and theatre.

Why dance specifically?

A lot of times, people label me as a dancer, a teaching artist, an actor, etc… for whatever job they have seen me do.
Actually, I wear many different hats, many different faces, as well as like to change my hair color frequently.
I am not just one of those things I am all of these—choreographer, dancer, director, writer, voice-over artist, producer, teaching artist, costume creator, and mother, and many more..
You see I absolutely love all things arts, and letting my creativity flow.
It is a big part of my existence.

Who are the influences that have shaped you personally and professionally.?
In dance I have always been inspired by the great icons Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, Luigi, Bob Fosse. Theatre- I absolutely love Moulin Rouge, Phantom of the Opera, CATS (I directed 10 years ago at the KROC), Wicked, …And my music is deeply rooted in Classical, Rock, 80s and EDM.
Personally I am influenced by my family, my mom always told me that I could be anything I wanted, and I believed her.

You are the executive artistic and education director of San Diego Arts Project. Why did you create this company, what are the niches you were trying to fill?

The mission is to educate and train students while maintaining artistic integrity and building self-awareness and confidence. Participating in the arts has been found to ease stress, and set a foundation for creativity and collaboration.
I formed SDCAP to build bridges between the art forms, and to explore outside of the “box”.

There is no “kit” or “recipe” for what we do, it comes from creative actualization, and experimentation.

Tell us about SDCAP, what it does who it serves and why?

SDCAP offers and classes for youth, adults, and seniors in dance, theatre, voice, pilates mat. We are inclusive and respect all diversity.

SDCAP is planning a Multi Inter generational theatre program. Students of all ages will perform and work together as a community. Access to the Arts has no gender, ethnic, or age limit.

You have a Spring dance session that just started and you have a performance coming up in June.

I am really happy to be starting up SDCAP classes in Chula Vista. I have been looking at expanding business there since a couple years before the shutdown. We are offering PreDance & Tumbling (ages 3-5), Musical Theatre Kids ages 6-15 -My original script of “Alice in Wonderland- Rebooted”, and Senior Moves, a gentle but satisfying outlet for dance for folks who don’t want to jump or spin anymore, but still want to move- it’s a feel good class.

I will be producing the aforementioned “Alice in Wonderland- Rebooted” script at the Chula Vista Library Civic Auditorium June 10 & 11.

I was really inspired by the Chula Vista library, and I am already planning future dance and theatre events in different non traditional spaces.

How did the pandemic affect the way you interacted with your craft and with audiences?

SDCAP went from producing 2-3 main stage productions, and a multitude of events, both in the community as well as partnerships with SD Repertory Theatre, and SD Symphony- to just a handful of dedicated students on Zoom classes. When schools did open back up, I fell and fractured my knee, and had to be mostly stationary for about 5-6 months.

I am very grateful to District 1, for awarding me a small business grant to help get started again.

What is the state of the arts—in funding, community participation and education—today?

I think that since the Pandemic, there are some new funding opportunities for individual artists, and smaller businesses. I have noticed so much joy in the community during arts and music events. Maybe we all appreciate it more now. I also think that the shutdown forced me to dig deeper, way deeper, and learn new skills—expand creativity-and realize like Mom said,you can do anything.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced professionally and how did you overcome them?

I think professionally one of the biggest challenges is being a woman business owner. Not to mention that I have a somewhat flamboyant- theatrical personality at times.

I mentioned the other day that it is a challenge being the art and the administrator. At the core of everything, I am a performing artist, and creator.