Amelia Island Dance Festival brings classic ballet and modern dance to the island

Amelia Island Dance Festival
Submitted by Lauren Templeton
April 22, 2019 1:00 p.m.

A Conversation with AIDF President, Susie Dodge

Launching the premiere performances for the inaugural Amelia Island Dance Festival has been a labor of love for Susie Dodge, the Amelia Musical Playhouse sensation, beloved instructor at Royal Amelia Dance Academy, and owner of Dodge Fitness. Upon she and her husband, Joe Gallerizzo, retiring their careers as professional dance artists with Paul Taylor Modern American Dance Company, Susie Dodge and her family relocated from New York City to Amelia Island in 2014. Leaving New York City wasn’t easy for the accomplished dancer, but Ms. Dodge recalls, “At the time, I was satisfied with the mark I made on the world of dance, l was ready to return to my Northeast Florida roots and embark on a new chapter with my husband and two children.” In picturing her new Florida future, the Douglas Anderson Alumna anticipated sunshine, the beach lifestyle, more family time, and more square footage in living space. When moving back to the area, Ms. Dodge did not necessarily anticipate or plan on launching a Dance Festival; yet here she stands one week away from stepping on stage to welcome Amelia Island audiences to the first Festival.

As President of the Amelia Island Dance Festival, Susie Dodge describes the conception of the Festival as a gradual process, she remarks, “The concept for the Dance Festival evolved over time, I was encouraged by family and friends over the years. In the last year, I felt the timing was right to go for it. I am excited to see how we can expand each year. Momentum is building and I’m filled with inspiration!” Ms. Dodge further discusses the mission of AIDF, as she emphasizes educational outreach and community engagement. Through her creation of the Amelia Island Dance Festival as a non-profit organization, it is clear that while Dance is her passion, Dance Education is her purpose. She firmly believes Dance Preservation is facilitated through Dance Education, she states, “Preserving classical dance and its history goes hand in hand with fortifying dance educational programs for the next generation.” The full-scholarship dance major and graduate of Southern Methodist University, hopes to enrich, inspire and uplift the entire community through the Dance Festival.

Ms. Dodge’s clients, students, colleagues, and adoring fans attest to her strong work-ethic, unapologetic passion, open-mindedness, and flexible thinking as an artist, performer, choreographer, teacher, and trainer. “Ms. Dodge brings great vision and leadership to her role directing the Amelia Island Dance Festival.” says Linda Loftis-Vrooman, Manager of Royal Amelia Dance Academy and Vice President of the AIDF board. Ms. Dodge and her board members are thrilled to announce performances by East by North Dance Theater, The Florida Ballet, Jacksonville Dance Theater, and more. When asked what she hopes audience members feel after experiencing the dance performances, Ms. Dodge pauses and responds, “My desire is that people see how dance can illicit an emotion, it can express an idea, tell a story, and carry meaning. But mainly, I hope people say they want to see more!” Performances take place at Amelia Community Theater on Thursday, April 25and Friday, April 26 at 7:30 in the evening. Tickets can be purchased through www.ameliaislanddancefestival.org.

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