Joey Rodgers & Solesite Lupu
Founders, President of the Board of Directors
Dancing In The Streets Tucson
88 W. 38TH STREET
Tucson, AZ 85713
Soleste Lupu has been dancing for any audience she could find since she was two years old. As co-founder and co-Artistic Director for Dancing in the Streets Arizona, Soleste works with co-Director Joseph Rodgers to inspire Tucson children to experience joy, creativity, and self-expression through the discipline of ballet. A Tucson native, she trained ballet locally at the Tucson Dance Academy under Maria Morton, with additional training from Ismet Mouhedin, George Zoritch, Jose Valenzuela, Stephanie Steigers and Neil Cowey. Versed in both the Royal Academy of Dancing ballet syllabus and the Vagonava syllabus, she has performed with the Southern Arizona Light Opera Company (SALOC) Plain, the University of Arizona Music and Dance Department, the University of Arizona Symphony and the LaMond Dance Ensemble. In addition to dance and music, she has worked in public policy and advocacy, run a no-kill shelter for cats, and started a family caregiver advocacy organization.
Joseph Rodgers, also a Tucson native, began his studies at the age of 7 when he was discovered at St. Ambrose school by Maria Morton, founder of the Tucson Academy of Dancing. His early training was in the Royal Academy of Dancing syllabus, and under George Zoritch, of the famed Ballet Russe continued to the San Francisco Ballet School and a 25-year career as a professional dancer. He has performed with many companies including the Arizona Dance Theater, Ballet Arizona, Feld Ballet New York, Ballet Chicago, and Milwaukee Ballet, culminating in a 2004 televised PBS performance of Der Fledermaus at the Kennedy Center with the Washington National Opera, directed by Placido Domingo.
About the Business
Dancing in the Streets Arizona (DITSAZ) is both a well-appointed ballet studio and a laboratory for success. Founded in 2008 with a small sum of wedding gift money by husband and wife team Soleste Lupu and Joseph Rodgers, the studio is located in South Tucson – a one-square-mile community that maintains a strong cultural heritage but struggles with high crime rates and poverty. The mission of DITSAZ is to use the power of dance to transform lives using the excitement and discipline of ballet to guide children in developing positive life skills, and to break down cultural barriers and enrich the community’s artistic experience.
Students take classes and perform in professional settings regardless of their income level, physical shape/size, or skill level. DITSAZ has served children with incarcerated parents, victims of abuse, those with serious physical and developmental disabilities, as well as non-traditional ballet students, such as overweight children or those with other physical limitations. Thirty-seven of our students were referred by the Juvenile Court to complete community service, many of whom continued on as students after their terms of service were completed.
Regardless of background or how they became involved, these students have discovered they can do more than they ever thought—not just across the dance floor, but in the classroom, in their family, and in their community. DITSAZ has demonstrated that dance education provides at-risk youth, and all students, a vehicle to experience positive teamwork and discipline, develop friendships that challenge cultural barriers, and most, importantly, experience accomplishments that serve to broaden their sense of life possibilities. No one is ever turned away from DITS if they want to learn.
Matt Nelson: Senior Vice President, Crest Insurance Group
Matt is a Senior Vice President at Crest Insurance Group in Tucson, consulting with companies to identify and implement insurance, risk management, and employee benefits solutions. With more than a 15 years of industry experience, he has served as a keynote speaker on the healthcare industry, leadership, workplace culture and risk management for professional organizations throughout Southern Arizona, including the City of Tucson, Greater Tucson Leadership, the Financial Executives and Affiliates of Tucson, and the CEO Roundtable of Tucson.
Matt is an active member in the Tucson community, having served as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the Arizona Army National Guard and volunteering with multiple local organizations, including as Treasurer and a Big Brother with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southern Arizona, a volunteer with the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Chair of the Pima County JTED’s Business and Industry Council, a builder with Habitat for Humanity and many other local youth charities.