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Phil LaDuca talks about his 2024 Vanguard Award, and the digital age

Phil LaDuca is a man that has worn many hats over the years: shoe designer, Broadway performer, choreographer, and master class dance teacher

Phil LaDuca
Phil LaDuca. Photo Credit: Christopher Duggan
Phil LaDuca. Photo Credit: Christopher Duggan

Phil LaDuca is a man that has worn many hats over the years: shoe designer, Broadway performer, choreographer, and master class dance teacher. He chatted about his 2024 Vanguard Award win.

At the 2024 Chita Rivera Awards, LaDuca was recognized for his “outstanding contribution to the international dance community.”

LaDuca has performed with, choreographed, sang, danced with, or designed for virtually every major star and performer over the last 40 years.

He created the internationally recognized LaDuca Shoe Line, becoming the “Shoemaker to the Stars.” 

2024 Vanguard Award recipient

On his 2024 Vanguard Award, he remarked, “It was an out of body experience. Having been very close to Chita [Rivera], it didn’t make sense in one regard… I just kept expecting to see her.”

“When I saw her daughter, Lisa, it freaked me out at first because she looks so much like Chita. I had to do a double take. For myself, personally, the reception I received was surprising to me. It was courteous, polite, and I was taken aback by all of the love and support from the dancers.”

“The dancers have always championed me, and I have always championed them. I was humbled by the support from the community at large. That was very gratifying for me,” he added.

Advice for young and aspiring performers

For young and aspiring dancers, he said, “Keep your nose clean.  Do not get into the negativity that can surround a community atmosphere. Stay out of clicks or conversation that are critical towards people.”

“Keep your head in the game and keep your focus on why you are there. You are there to be a part of a team, and give your choreographer and director, everything that you can possibly can. That is your sole focus,” he explained.

“Most importantly, is that you be a good, good positive person in the dressing room, and the rehearsals,” he added.

The digital age

On being a part of the digital age, LaDuca said, “The digital age has been a huge change since I was on Broadway. At the time, we have nothing… there were no computers or cell phones. It is silly to say that it’s a gamechanger because it is everything.”

“Social media is everything: it gives people the opportunity to get millions of followers, and that ability alone has changed how things are looked upon, and it is so valuable and so important that right now, I am in the midst of going worldwide thanks to the digital age,” he elaborated.

“In January of 2025, I will be opening LaDuca Australia in Melbourne, and they will take care of all of Asia, New Zealand, and Oceania. The digital age and social media marketing is uber important these days,” he said.

“Back in my days, it used to be magazine ads, so it has been a learning experience for myself as well,” he added.

Success

On his definition of the word success, LaDuca said, “Success is almost something I don’t look upon or dwell upon. LaDuca World has been my focus but outside of that, I am excited for creating a nonbinary and nongender boot.”

He continued, “I have been recognizing the evolution of dance, and I always pride myself for being ahead of the curve. For me, it is not about the profits or the income. It is about servicing the community by putting out products that make them safe, and that they can function at their best.”

“That is success to me: when the community is getting what they need, and it is all about supporting them. I don’t look at it as how can I move ahead, it is about helping the community move ahead,” he concluded.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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