JULIA is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, a dance-theater company recognized for its layered choreography, nuanced dialogue, surprising humor, and socially relevant storytelling. Her work with Lucky Plush has been presented in over 40 US cities from Maine to Hawaii, and international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Her independent choreography credits include Steppenwolf Theatre’s Love Kills, Lookingglass Theatre’s The Great Fire, Walkabout Theater’s Mama: A Play for Voices, Redmoon’s Project Y, River North Chicago Dance Company’s Oasis and Between Three, among others, and she will create a new work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2017.
Under Rhoads’s leadership, Lucky Plush received the prestigious MacArthur Award in 2016, recognizing the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Her independent and collaborative work for the company has also been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, National Performance Network, and MetLife Foundation, among others, and commissioning presenters include Harris Theater (IL), Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (IL), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), and Links Hall (IL).
Rhoads is the recipient of the 2013 Alpert Award in Dance, a fellowship from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, a Cliff Dwellers Choreography Award, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Choreography, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and a 2014 Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for spearheading a shared fundraising model between Lucky Plush, Grammy-winning Eighth Blackbird, and puppet theater company Blair Thomas & Co. She was named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2010, and has three times been named in Newcity’s “Players: The 50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago.”
Rhoads is a former member of the San Francisco Ballet and ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and she has taught in the dance and theater programs of several Chicago-area colleges and universities. She is currently a Part-time Lecturer and Dance Advisor in Theater and Performance Studies at The University of Chicago.