Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) has just named Raymond Rodriguez as the organization’s first Dean of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, effective June 5, 2023. In this role, he will oversee the Children’s, Student and Pre-Professional divisions of PBT School. Rodriguez most recently served as the Academy Director of The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. To better introduce him to Pittsburgh audiences, we sat down with him and asked him to answer a few questions about himself.
Get to Know Raymond
What was the first ballet you ever danced in onstage?
The first ballet I danced in on stage was La Sylphide. I was a student at American Ballet Theatre School. I was selected to perform a children’s role in the Company’s production at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City, and my dance partner was no other than actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
What is your favorite part of overseeing a ballet school?
My favorite part of overseeing a ballet school is witnessing students grow and develop into skilled dancers and human beings. Dance is transformative. To see students learn self-confidence, self-discipline, and self-awareness and be creative individuals in this world is truly remarkable. Providing access and exposure can lead to life-changing opportunities.
What is your favorite ballet to watch?
My favorite ballet to watch is Romeo and Juliet, danced to the hauntingly beautiful Sergei Prokofiev score. It can be a profound emotional experience to witness the dancers’ storytelling combined with the lush musical score. The dancers need to execute technical expertise while simultaneously being storytellers, exhibiting vulnerability and acting nuances; dancers possessing both qualities lead to memorable performances for me.
What are you most excited to do in Pittsburgh?
I’m most excited to learn and explore the community and its diverse neighborhoods. In addition, I look forward to experiencing the city’s many cultural institutions.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I am pampering myself with a day at the spa with a deep-tissue massage.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spending a quiet day with my husband and fur baby is my guilty pleasure. In addition, I love to spend the day cooking and binge-watching the latest series on Netflix.
Where was your favorite vacation spot?
My favorite vacation spot, as of today, has been the Mexican beach resort of Puerto Vallarta. I’ve enjoyed discovering the local culture, diverse people, food, art galleries, vibrant nightlife of the iconic Malecon, and stunning sunsets.
If you could meet anyone in the world today, who would you meet?
I would love to meet actress, dancer, and singer Rita Moreno. The Puerto Rican star has been a trailblazer in the arts for seven decades, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT) Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and many other accolades. She has been an inspiration to me and many other aspiring Latino performers.
What’s the food you usually refuse to share?
My mom’s arroz con gandules, pernil, and platano maduro.
What was the last song you had stuck in your head?
The Best by Tina Turner