Pepa Dodge

Title: Faculty

Josephine Chindemi Dodge, or “Miss Pepa” as she is affectionately called, was born in Reggio Calabria, Catona, Italy in 1927.   She moved to the United States at the age of five and lived on a coal barge in the Atlantic Ocean where her father worked near the island of Manhattan.  After her mother passed away when she was six years old, Miss Pepa moved to Brooklyn and lived in foster care and later in a friend’s attic with her sister. Miss Pepa was introduced to classical ballet at the age of 19 during the course of her work as a nanny.  The next day she was given a scholarship to study at this dance school in New York.  During her training, Miss Pepa studied with Vencenzo Celli, a direct pupil of the world-renowned ballet master, Enrico Cecchetti.  Miss Pepa went on to study classical Spanish and tour the United States and Europe as a professional dancer.  Upon moving to California, settling down, and raising a family, Miss Pepa continued her love of dance and began teaching.  In addition to teaching classical ballet and Spanish to children and adults for more than 35 years, Miss Pepa has also been teaching water aerobics at the Newport Mesa YMCA for 47 years.  At 96 years young and going so strong, Miss Pepa is a true inspiration to all who have the good fortune to meet her!  Check out our Blog for her recent news footage and words of inspiration on how to stay young.