Gillian Rhodes is an American dancer, choreographer, model, and writer. She started classical ballet at just five years old. As a teenager, she focused more on circus, and worked as a professional aerial circus performer and coach. She refocused on dance in college at Columbia University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2012.
“The only place I’ve found that truly feels like home is the stage.” There, she studied primarily Graham technique (with Donlin Foreman) and contemporary, along with various other styles. During her junior year she spent a year abroad in France, and the year after brought the first American group to a university festival in Paris.
Upon graduation, Gillian traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to teach a series of choreography workshops for the NGO Cambodian Living Arts. She stayed in Cambodia for three years, working primarily as a choreographer for Cambodian Television Network and as the senior management assistant at Cambodian Living Arts. During that time, she brought two original pieces to international festivals in Malaysia. In 2015, she choreographed a piece for Jolona Jongjam, a festival commemorating forty years since the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.
Gillian left Cambodia for South Korea in June 2015. Shortly after arriving, she performed at the Incheon International Dance Festival and the Jeju Fringe Festival. She trained regularly with Trust Dance Theatre and in 2017 taught classes for the company’s training program. In September 2015, she was invited to join Second Nature Dance Company as a guest dancer. She was named a member to the company in November 2016 and was a principle member in 2017.
Gillian is currently based in Lahore, Pakistan. She shifted in February 2018 after being invited to the School of Tomorrow Conference in Islamabad in 2017. She has performed all around the country in a variety of styles, including her own contemporary and traditional Punjabi bhangra. Her evening-length work entitled “The Name I Give Myself” was invited to GIKI’s 21st Annual All-Pakistan Performing Arts Festival. She has appeared in multiple music videos with local singers, and has modeled for award-winning photographer Ashna Khan as well as top brands such as Sonya Battla. Gillian was the resident artist for both the National College of the Arts and the Institute of Arts and Culture. She choreographed the upcoming film “Kamli’ by acclaimed director Sarmad Khoosat and currently teaches at Beaconhouse National University.
- In addition to the published work, Gillian has written numerous articles, essays, and poems, which are available in her blog.
- Gillian is a lifelong astronomy enthusiast. In 2020 she started blending her love of astronomy with her artistic work. She also started a live show on Twitch for CosmoQuest, a product of the Planetary Science Institute, on the intersections of Astronomy and Art.
- In the end of 2019, Gillian appeared in a viral video with cricket legend Shoaib Akhter during a TV commercial shoot. In Pakistan she’s given interviews for numerous television channels, including the BBC Urdu Service, Dawn News, and more.
- Gillian has performed twice at TEDx Events: TedxVannes in France in 2017, and TedxLahoreWomen in Pakistan in 2018.
- In March 2017, Gillian was a panelist at the World of Tomorrow conference in Islamabad, Pakistan. Gillian spoke on the panel “Art Without Boundaries” alongside four others, including the driving force behind Pakistan’s well-known truck art and Pakistani dance legend, Ms. Sheema Karmani. (@SOTEvents on Twitter and Facebook).
- In 2017, Gillian recorded two seasons of an original podcast “It’s an artful life!” For this, she interviewed 24 people from all over the world on how they engage with art on a daily basis. During the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, she released a special 8 episode season talking specifically to artists on their experience.
- In 2016, Gillian completed a year-long mentorship under Korean artist HeJin Jang and worked as a researcher at Jang’s Global Institute for Cultural Embodiment and Performing Arts (CEPA). She co-designed a three-month research project on immigrant artists in Korea, which included a survey and a community workshop. Her analysis of the survey results can be found here.
- Gillian speaks five languages: English, French, Korean, Khmer, and Urdu.