A Graduate of the High School of Performing Arts of Houston, Texas, this dancer, choreographer, and professor recognizes two important influences in his life and career, Patsy Swayze (the mother of Patrick Swayze) and Frank Hatchett.
His experience as a dancer has been very eclectic; He danced notably with the Houston Ballet, at the Houston Grand Opera, with the Houston Jazz Ballet (for whom, he created his first choreographic works), and with TUTS (Theater Under The Stars) in a number of musicals such as Little Me, West Side Story, Carousel, GiGi, and others before being noticed by Louis Johnson and leaving his beloved Texas to perform on Broadway in Scott Joplin’s opera, Treemonisha.
While continuing his training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and at the Dance Theater of Harlem, he appeared in a number of musicals, working with and assisting renowned choreographers like Frank Hatchett, Tally Beatty, Arthur Faria, Louis Johnson, and Claude Thompson. He completed his first choreography in New York for the touring company of the All Black Version of the Musical Comedy “Guys and Dolls”, interpreted by Debbie Allen, Maurice Hines, and Richard Roundtree.
He created a number of ballets while serving as the Artistic Director and Choreographer for the Contemporary Chamber Dance Group in New York. As he continued teaching as well alongside Frank Hatchett, first at his school in Springfield, Massachusetts and at Henry Le Tang’s, then at JoJo’s Dance Factory which later became Hines-Hines and Hatchett and is today known as Broadway Dance Center.
At the same time, he appeared in cinema and theater as well, and created for television before settling in France definitively in 1980 after traveling to Paris to co choreograph and perform with the Broadway Star, Vivian Reed in her show “Pierre Cardin Presents Vivian Reed”. For his Parisian theatre and a following Television special. For many years he continued to work with Vivian Reed as a choreographer and a performer. While pursuing a career as an international dancer, professor, and choreographer (Norwegian Ballet, Opera of Dortmund, and Universities, such as Amsterdam, Oslo, and Moscow), he choreographed for the stars of French Dance (Patrick Dupond, Rudy Bryans). As well as for the films Claude Lelouch’s Les Uns et Les Autres, et L’Unique with Julia Migenes Johnson, (performing and appearing in both films in both films), with whom he shared the stage as a partner for her “On Woman Show” at the Palais de Congrès and on tour in France where he danced in and choreographed two television programs of (Le Grand Echiquier) that Jacques Chancel dedicated to Julia Migenes, as well as comedy musicals and shows including: La Vie En Bleu, Jésus La Résurrection, On Achève bien les chevaux, et Une Femme Nommée Marie all directed by the well known French actor and director Robert Hossein, with whom he worked closely collaborating on a number of projects over a period of more than fifteen years.
He produced shows for French and European television, most recently he was the co-choreographer and artistic director with Charly Moser on the program The Dancing Show on the French 2. He has also created shows and scenes for cabarets like Le Paradis Latin with Jean Marie Rivière, L’Alcazar de Paris, Les Folies Russes, et le Sporting de Monte Carlo, not including numerous conventions for IBM, EDF-GDF…to name a few, along with touring shows for L’Oréal, “Color Trophy and Composite Color.”
In 2007, he worked on Michel Polnareff’s return show in Bercy. He co-choreographed and became the producer of musical, Piaf Je t’aime with Charly Moser, performed at the L’Olympia and Le Cirque d’Hiver, as well as the creation and production of his own gospel show, Jubiliation.
A tireless propagator of jazz dance, he founded his own company, Ballets Jazz Rick Odums, that has been touring internationally since 1983 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013. Having obtained a CA (the equivalent of a French Doctorate) in Jazz Dance, he transmits his approach to dance training in his Parisian school, created in 1988 and who celebrated its 27th anniversary this year. He also founded Les Jeunes Ballets Jazz d’IFPRO, a springboard company for young artists in training.
Passionate about different aspects of jazz dance, he wanted to share these aspects with young French and Europeans, thus, in 2000, he created the first International Forum of Jazz Dance: an exceptional biennial event grouping in the same place, passionate artistic personalities from a diverse range of countries, ambassadors of expression and of varied artistic offerings of jazz culture (Matt Mattox, Donald McKayle, Lynn Simmonson, Géraldine Armstrong, Patricia Karagozian, Wayne Barbaste, Sheron Wray, Martine Mattox, Cathy Grouet, Bob Boross, Ben Bergman, Junior Alemeda, to name but a few…).
Besides participating in various national committees of the Ministry of Culture and many examination boards (Diplôme D’Etat and CA), Rick served as Vice President of the FNID French Interprofessional Dance Federation, and as a member of the National Commission on Dance for over nine years. He also participated in the creation of the French Choreographers Association.
A former member of the Haut Conseil de l’Education Artistique et Culturelle (High Council for Artistic and Cultural Education). As well as receiving the French medal, “Chevalier des Arts des Lettres”. Rick Odums’s mission as an educator is the transmission of jazz dance and its culture in today’s contemporary context. Currently, he is the co-director Pedagogic of the PSPBB with Patricia Alzetta for the DNSPD Program which is a BFA Program in Jazz Dance.
His meeting with Didier Lockwood (One of Frances most well known and respected Jazz musician and educator was instrumental. They both share the idea that contemporary music and jazz dance deserve full recognition that considers the artistic value of their works and practices equal to those in the field of classical music and classical and contemporary dance. They decided to join forces and in the near future, to create an artistic center entirely dedicated to jazz music and dance based on research, creation, and production in the domain of jazz culture. Prior to this partnership, Rick has created a Center of Choreographic Development dedicated to the culture and creation of jazz dance.