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Life After Mid-Pen: Emmett Rodriquez '16

“No matter what you do, do it well. Trust that no matter what, you know what you’re going to be able to do."

-Emmett Rodriguez ’16

Emmett believes the path from Mid-Pen was straightforward. He loved to dance, he fell in love with the craft during high school, and he knew he wanted to pursue a career as a professional dancer. While still a senior, Emmett auditioned for several dance companies and was accepted into one in New Jersey. Three weeks after graduation, he was living on his own on the East Coast.

“Everyone at Mid-Pen thought I was kind of nuts to do this,” he laughed. 

Emmett went on to work for a dance company in Dallas and is now back in the Bay Area as a member of the company of New Ballet San Jose. His work has given him the chance to travel and perform in a variety of productions, including several operas and avant-garde dance performances.

“I’ve been able to stretch myself as a dancer,” he said.

Asked if he had thought about going to college to pursue ballet, Emmett says his experience in ballet has shown him that college not a requirement to succeed in the arts. “I was not one of those people that felt like I could go to college and study ballet,” he recalled. Although he hasn't ruled out pursuing a degree sometime in the future, he noted that “in the art form, it’s so unique...a lot of times you don’t need the degree. That's not what’s going to get you into a company. It’s what you bring to the performance.” 

Emmett recently became a full-time teacher for the First-Step program in San Jose, where he provides elementary school children with dance classes. The program also provides scholarships to low-income students to take ballet classes. “It’s teaching them that ballet and contemporary dance is creative and something so valuable to the arts. It made me love my job even more.”

Emmett Rodriquez '16 participated in Mid-Pen's virtual roundtable, Alternative Paths: Life after Mid-Pen, on Thursday, April 23, 2020.