Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Jodi Riley

Interview Conducted By: Jessica Hicks – Egyptian Theatre Intern 


Jodi Riley is the artistic director and owner of the Sycamore/Rochelle Performing Arts Academy. The dance school will be preforming their holiday recital at the Egyptian Theatre on December 10 at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM.

sycamorerochelledance3Jessica: How long have you been dancing?

Jodi: I have been dancing for over 30 years.  I started originally with tap and baton at a very young age.  At the age of 8 my friends sparked my interest.  They would imitate their instructor outside during recess using the railing on the stairs as their bar


Jessica: You received your BFA with an emphasis in dance performance from Northern Illinois University, what made you decide to stay and teach in this area?

Jodi: I stayed in DeKalb County because I am from this area.  I decided to teach instead of pursuing a professional career due to two knee surgeries that limited some of my movement.


Jessica: You began teaching in 1993 with Beth Fowler (who recently had her own show here), how was working with Ms. Beth?

Jodi: Working with Beth Fowler was a great experience for me.  In the many years as an assistant and then instructor I learned many aspects of the dance studio business and fell in love with teaching.


Jessica: What is your favorite part about teaching?

Jodi: I get to wake up every day and do what I love and share it with others who have the same passion for dance that I do.  Seeing students progress over time and some even surpassing your level is an amazing accomplishment.  Watching students faces light up when they execute a new step properly or hear a compliment or even just seeing them grow into a more confident individual is very fulfilling.


Jessica: What is your favorite performance to teach and/or perform?

Jodi: My favorite ballet is Cinderella.  I enjoy teaching ballet, contemporary, aerial silks and jazz each in their own unique way.  Aerial silks is special since it is not common in this area and takes a tremendous amount of core strength, self discipline and dedication.

Jessica: Why do you enjoy performing in the historic Egyptian Theatre?

Jodi: We love performing in the Egyptian Theatre because of its beauty, character and atmosphere!  We have performing our December and June shows at the Egyptian Theatre for many many years.

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