Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Bodi.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I began my St. Louis journey in 2011, moving here to fulfill my dreams as a professional ballet dancer. Since moving here, I have had the privilege to dance with multiple dance organizations, teach ballet from ages 2-102, work administratively, and entertain at events throughout the city.
I fell in love with St. Louis and also with my husband, and nearly ten years later, we now have a daughter and two dogs. After performing as “Cinderella” 5 months pregnant, and then coming back the next year for a final bow as the “Sea Witch” in “The Little Mermaid,” I knew I still wasn’t done with performing. I was so fortunate to be a part of 2 organizations who allowed me to bring my daughter with me as my little studio sidekick. All of my coworkers were so supportive and helpful. I had heard inspirational stories of dancers coming back from pregnancy and getting back to the stage. Even still, this is not the norm in the professional dance world. The truth is, I felt more at ease with my body and my mind now that my own world was bigger than just “me” on the stage. Having a kid changes your perspective on so many things, allowing me to see perhaps the greater picture of the production overall rather than my individual performance. I knew that despite doors closing on my career, I wasn’t done with creating and dancing.
In late 2018, I began planning with my friend and now business partner Robert Poe and several others who formed our board of directors. We saw that there was a need for a flexible, inclusive, and diverse ballet company which would center its’ programming on the St. Louis community. We founded Ballet 314 in February of 2019, and I have found so much joy through creating this space for other dancers to be a part of what we all love, in addition to their other dreams and aspirations. Many of the dancers that perform with us have other careers, families, schooling, and businesses that they lead.
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?
The path has not always been smooth or painless (hello, childbirth). There have been many obstacles personally and professionally, not limited to the pandemic. In retrospect, I realize many of the unforeseen hardships, extra work taken on, things that were… less than ideal are what shaped my perspective to where I am today. I am extraordinarily grateful for the people in my life who support me in my endeavors and also just me as a person, and those who I can turn to for help when things get tough. The people I surround myself with have had an immense impact on my life. Not everything in life is a tangible lesson, but every little bump can be practice. Maybe for a bigger bump, or maybe for accepting a greater joy when it comes.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
One of Ballet 314’s greatest accomplishments to date was our 2019 production of our first full-length ballet, “The Nutcracker & the World’s Fair,” which Robert and I adapted to take place in St. Louis T the 1904 World’s Fair. Our organization from the outset has partnered with several library districts and schools to encourage literacy through the arts. During the pandemic, we published our story as a children’s hardcover book and also as an interactive eBook- yes, you can buy it on Amazon! When you click on an image in the corner of the page, a link will bring the story to life through dance. Aside from my daughter, this is probably the creation of which I am most proud.
We are also currently working on a brand new production, “Ragtime: The American Experience” which will premiere mid-July. We are collaborating with dancers from 5 other dance companies across St. Louis; truly living up to our mission of “celebrating local talent within our community.” Robert has done an amazing job with the choreography and adapting this novel set in the early 1900’s into a full-length ballet. At the time I am writing this, we are still in rehearsals for this show. I am awed by this production and how the themes- which are still relevant today- are woven through this story. It runs the whole range of emotions, and I believe we will create a lasting impression on each person in the audience.
How do you define success?
Success is difficult to quantify; I believe that true success is unique to the individual and each phase of life. For me, right now, success is knowing that I am using my gifts, imperfect as they are, to benefit others.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://ballet314.aplos.org/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ballet314/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ballet314
- Other: https://www.amazon.com/Nutcracker-1904-Worlds-Fair-ebook/dp/B08M4DPJJL
Matt Siemens Dancers & Dogs Natalie Cooper