Born to Dance: An interview with “Philadanco’s” Rosita Adamo


Born into a war torn world, rescued by providence, Philadanco’s  Rosita Adamo has trained and danced with American Ballet Theater, The Julliard School, Dance Theater of Harlem, The Joffrey Ballet, (Alvin) Ailey II Ballet and today The Philadelphia Dance Company.  Her life and career is a tale of love, passion and staying open to life’s possibilities.

Latin Heat’s Dance and Theater Contributing Editor, Cris Franco recently interviewed Ms. Adamo on her career and her performance in the James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, a Celebration in Dance which opens on February 14 at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Cris Franco:  Rosita, how does a girl born in Managua, Nicaragua end up dancing with one of the nation’s premier modern dance companies

Rosita Adamo:  My mom longed for a child, but she was always traveling the globe making documentaries.  While working in Nicaragua she fell in love with the people and decided that she wanted to bring home something back from that culture – and that was me.

CF:  You’re adopted?

RA:  Yes.  The Sandinista War left many orphans so adoptions were much simpler.  My mom said she knew I was meant to be hers at first sight, when I was placed on her lap and I first looked up at her.  She took me home to Massachusetts and then we moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where I was raised.

CF:  And when did dance enter into your life?

RA:  Very young.  Upon my arrival I was always exploring everything.  So to focus my energy my mom enrolled me dance class.  And that was it.  I was stuck.  I began with tap and jazz and then ballet.  But it was more than a passion.  I wanted dance to be my life, my career.

CF: The Philadelphia Dance Company’s avant-garde repertoire is an amalgam of many histories and dance styles.  How do you describe your work with Philadanco?

ROSITA ADAMO 1RA:  Modern fusion or classical modern.  But we’re also exploring hip-hop, (Martha) Graham, African, gymnastics, sports motion and more.  We’re a bundle of essences based on modern.   I’m blessed.  Philadanco has been my artistic home for five seasons.  All my fellow dancers agree that we’ve all blossomed in a special way through Philadanco.

CF: Your newest work, Get on the Good Foot (GOTGF) is based on the music of James Brown choreographed by icons like Souleymane Badolo, Ronald K. Brown, Thang Dao, Derick K. Grant, Aakash Odedra, Abdel Salaam, Camile Brown and more.   Is it difficult interpreting the work of so many artists in one show?

RA:  It’s been a dream collaboration for the last two years.  Each choreographer lets us slowly dip into their style and grow from there.  Our director/choreographer Otis Sallid’s amazing vision honors James Brown and these choreographers who’ve influenced world culture by storytelling through body movement and dance styles.

CF:  How do you get your body to surrender to all those different styles?

RA:   You have to enter the rehearsal hall with an open mind and just go for it.

CF:  Who inspired you to dance?

RA:  Everyone I saw on stage.  Alvin Ailey’s Renee Robinson and Dwana Smallwood, their work is absolutely gorgeous.  Debra Hicks, our brilliant rehearsal director, Gelsey Kirkland, lots of ballerinas.  I grew up doing lots of classical work.  Then in junior year I switched to modern.  I wanted to express myself to the fullest and modern opened the doors and window to that expression.

CF:  What advice do you have for parents with children who aspire to dance?

Rosita Admo 2RA:  A child’s desire to express their passion through dance is a beautiful thing.  If your child isn’t exactly what’s considered a dancer, it’s different today.  If you’re not tall and totally thin, today there are many companies around the world that need you.  A dancer isn’t a dancer because of their body type, it’s because of what’s within themselves.  If movement is how they express themselves, their language, they’re dancers.  Dance is about passion.  I’ve mentored some younger dancers and if they want it to be a career, I tell them, if your heart is truly committed, then there is a dance company for you.  If you don’t get into one, keep working, there is a company for you.

CF:  What’s the best thing about being a dancer?

That moment of silence right after the shows’ end. Knowing that you’ve shared an experience and touched somebody.  That you’ve shown someone your soul.

CF:  And what’s the hardest part?

RA:  The mental battles when you’re working on a dozen ballets and someone is leaving and the show’s going up in one week.  You can’t let yourself get psyched out.  Negativism only makes the work harder.  And you can’t let a little misstep affect your process.  Tomorrow you’ll do better, you’ll make that lift perfectly, you’ll add a turn, you’ll make that entrance right on time.  You’ve got to stay positive and open to life’s possibilities.  That’s what I think dance is about, staying open to life’s possibilities.

SHOW INFO:  James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, a Celebration in Dance runs February 14-February 16, 2014; tickets start @ $28 available at (213) 972-0711, <>, and The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office, 135 North Grand Avenue.

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