Charlie Hodges (photo by Juan Posada)

podcast / alumni / product-design
October 18, 2018
Produced by Christine Spines

Change Lab Podcast Episode 17

Charlie Hodges on Pirouetting from Dance to Design

For twenty years, Charlie Hodges heeded his creative calling to dance at the highest level. With roles in acclaimed Broadway productions and as part of Twyla Tharp’s legendary repertory company, his trek to the peak of that profession was grueling to say the least. Charlie endured waves of intensely personal rejection – oftentimes targeting his body type and appearance. But he ultimately prevailed, thanks to his abundance of talent, perseverance and incredibly high pain threshold.

Most people would be more than satisfied with those achievements. But for Charlie, that was simply act one. He then pivoted – or, more accurately, pirouetted – toward a completely new creative métier: product design. Drawing on his lifelong passion for architecture, he enrolled in ArtCenter’s Product Design program.

I have a lot of talent for moving a body in space. Can I leverage that knowledge into moving a space around a body?

"Moving Parts" by Benjamin Millepied, 2012, LA Dance Project

His natural creative abilities and propensity for hard work continued to serve him well. During an ArtCenter DesignStorm for a major toy company, Charlie developed Urbanette, a sustainable dollhouse, for which he received a prestigious IDSA award. While at ArtCenter, he delivered a remarkably vulnerable and wise TEDx talk on the resilience he acquired pursuing a career in dance with an unconventional body type. And, finally, true to his commitment to excellence, Charlie graduated from ArtCenter as the summer 2018 valedictorian.

In this episode, Charlie and ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman discuss his hard-won ascent to the top of the dance world, the evolution of his passion for design, his lifelong belief in the power of persistence and his new passion for creating toys designed to influence change.

Urbanette detail with doll by Charlie Hodges
Urbanette detail with doll by Charlie Hodges
Urbanette by Charlie Hodges
Urbanette by Charlie Hodges
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