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Lissette Salgado-Lucas and David Lucas: “Dedicate the Time”

Dedicate the Time — You need to understand that once you decide to do this you need to dedicate your self 100% of the time and expect it to take 150% to get it done. As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing […]

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Dedicate the Time — You need to understand that once you decide to do this you need to dedicate your self 100% of the time and expect it to take 150% to get it done.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lissette Salgado-Lucas and David Lucas.

Born in Miami, Florida, Lissette evolved her passion for dance while studying with Liana Navarro, Judith Reece Newman and Marianna Alvarez. In 1988, She joined the Joffrey Ballet and danced with the company for seven years. Some of Lissette’s roles included: Balanchine’s Tarantella, Frederick Ashton’s Les Patinuers and La Fille Mal Gardee, Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table, John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, Jiri Kylian’s Return to Strange Land, Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain and Viva Vivaldi, and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. In 1995, Lissette joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and danced lead roles in: Bengt Jorgens’s Swedish Song and Anthony Tudor’s Leaves are Fading. She was recognized for her role as Odette/Odile in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Juliet in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and Butterfly in David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast and Butterfly, Lucy in Mark Godden’s Dracula, the principal role in Mikhail Fokine’s Les Sylphides, Paquita in Petipa’s Paquita, and Kitri in Petipa’s Don Quixote. Lissette is a renowned, international guest artist who has performed with the Daring Project under the direction of Margo Sappington and Valentina Kozlova. She also performed her role of Juliet in Florence, Italy with Teatro de Maggio Dance Company and was a guest artist with the ‘Stars of Canadian Ballet’ Company, touring throughout Canada and performing in the Pan Am Summer Games Closing Ceremonies. Lissette has taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts, South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Dillard High School for the Performing Arts, and is the Founder/President of Shake The Ground, The Ultimate Dance Competition, her extensive professional experience and relationships with professionals in the industry allow Shake The Ground to expand on a national platform.Since 2015 Lissette has Co-directed along with her husband David the Joffrey Ballet School Summer of Hip-Hop Program in New York City. In 2020 they will add and direct the Joffrey Ballet School Summer of Hip Hop in New York City and Tampa, FL They are also be the directors of the Joffrey Ballet/Contemporary program held for 2 weeks in Tampa, Florida.


Born in Chorley, England, and raised in Kelowna, B.C., Canada, David Lucas unveiled his passion for dance at age nine. The Canadian School of Ballet is where he began training under the direction of Betty Farrally, the co founder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company. He later trained in Toronto and graduated from the National Ballet School and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. David joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company in 1988 and danced for 14 years before retiring in 2000. He danced many lead roles such as: Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Tarantella, David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast, Butterfly, Mark Godden’s Dracula, Paquita, Don Quixote’s Pas de Deux and Brian McDonald’s Pas D’Action. It was with the RWB that he met his lovely wife, Lissette Salgado, and was honored to partner and perform many lead roles with her throughout his career. David has also performed in five made for television dance movies as well as the popular Children’s TV show “The Toy Castle,” where he played the Strongman. He has also been invited as a guest artist to perform in Japan with the Reiko Yamamoto Ballet Company. David was also the Artistic Director for the Canadian School of Ballet Summer program, which he and his wife, Lissette, directed for four years. David and Lissette choreographed and staged performances each year for the students. David later founded ‘The Stars of Canadian Ballet’ Company, which brought together the best artists in Canada from the National Ballet Company, The Alberta Ballet Company, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company. This renowned group toured in Canada and performed in the closing ceremonies for the Pan Am Games in 1999. In 2012, David co-founded Shake The Ground with his wife, Lissette, and in 2013, Universal Ballet Competition. Both competitions offer over 1,000,000 dollars in scholarships to inspiring young dancers, annually, to assist each of them in reaching their remarkable potential, catapulting them to the next level of their dance careers.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

We met in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada and danced together in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company for many years. It was amazing to be able to travel with the company to perform in many countries. When we retired we decided to move to Florida where Lissette has a big family to raise our children. We have a son and daughter and it is great having Grand parents and relatives here in Florida.

We were judging in competitions and thought that there would be a better way to do it. One in which the empathise would be on the competition part but also and just as important on creating opportunities for dancers for their futures in dance. This is why we have partnered with some of the leading schools in the dance world to offer scholarships to summer sessions so they can continue to the next stage of their dance careers.

We started Shake the Ground dance competition in 2013 with 5 competitions. In 2014 we started Universal Ballet Competition. These are 2 completely different competitions. Shake the Ground has the Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theater and other types of dance.

Universal Ballet Company is only Ballet and Contemporary.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

We wouldn’t label us as an authority in our industry as there are a lot of companies that host great events. What we do have to offer is that we have a background in dance that allows us to understand the dance world and offer to dancers what they are needing. We also have a big network of amazing judges and master teachers to always bring the best product to every competition. One of our strengths is who we surround ourselves with. Our staff most of who have been with us from the beginning are industry professionals and are the heart soul of Shake the Ground and Universal Ballet Competition. We are able to think outside the box and offer things that no other company can offer. By doing this we are every expanding and evolving!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

I would define a thought leader as someone who is a source of knowledge in their field. It is someone that others can reference and build their ideas from. A thought leader is a person who is not only experienced but also innovative in their respective area. They are people who guide a field and lead the way for other leaders to follow. They combine innovation and knowledge to create new ideas and help others flourish.

A thought leader is different than a typical leader because they usually are those with the most time or experience in the field. They provide insight and ideas that other leaders can then use and build on. They also differ from an influencer because a thought leader does not mean to simply influence others to follow the same rules, but rather to use the expertise that they have acquired to help others continue to improve in the discipline.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

It is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into being a thought leader because becoming a thought leader allows you to be at the forefront of innovation. It allows you to provide something to the world that was never available before. By being at the forefront of your field you can make changes and create something better than it was before. You can be a guide for those that are beginning to help them and the field evolve and grow. There is no price for being a point of knowledge and growth for those around you.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

Thought leadership can help a business grow because it allows you to create new openings in the market that may not have existed before. By having the newest ideas and experience in the field you can see areas of need to be filled, as well as understand how to better the elements that are already in place.

For example, after many years in the ballet world as professional dancers, we saw what a challenge it was to create a life in the field, and we were able to fill that need for opportunity through our work with Universal Ballet Competition Auditions which allows dancers to audition all over the world from one location. This was something that could have only been created from the experience and innovation that comes with being a thought leader.

We have also innovated through our Virtual Workshop Series, where we allowed dancers to train from their own homes with world class master teachers. Our experience in knowing how invaluable it is to learn and gain exposure during a time when competitions could not occur is the key to creating this program that allows students to gain opportunities and experience in the field.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

  1. Dedicate the Time — You need to understand that once you decide to do this you need to dedicate your self 100% of the time and expect it to take 150% to get it done.
  2. Work Hard — commit to the idea that customer service is a lost art and you will need to go above and beyond what is expected. This will be one of the things that will make your company stand out above the rest.
  3. Do the Research — do your homework on what you decide to do that way you will be prepared to take and make calculated decisions.
  4. Learn from the Mistakes — everyone will make mistakes, but it is how you learn from these mistakes that will either make your company excel or repeat the same mistakes.
  5. Prioritize Growth — always prepare a controlled growth to follow your research this way your limit your company exposure and ensure your are following your strategy and give a higher percentage for success.

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

Someone who has done a fantastic job as a thought leader is Elon Musk. He has a vision for helping the world evolve into the future and what he can create to help us get there. His vision expands beyond the world we live in to other planets so the existence of the human race will go on.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

We don’t believe it should be avoided. It is simply a title that aims to differentiate those that are specialists in what they do. It is important to recognize those that have learned, grown, and put the work in to create something new and better. This term helps to differentiate those that can guide other leaders in the profession and points out someone that can provide support and insight.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Our advice would be to lead in an area you are passionate about. We work in an area that we love each day, and want for dancers to experience the love that we have for that art. That passion is what helps us to avoid burnout. Being able to see a dancer succeed and grow because of opportunities you have provided drives us to never stop innovating, creating, learning, and working, We know how difficult it was to be starting out as a dancer, so we avoid burnout by remembering how important these connections are for up and coming students. New ideas and constant growth are also key components of thriving. If you are constantly moving forward and creating there is no way to become tired since you can create a new goal to fuel your passion all the time. The key to avoiding burnout is doing something you love and evolving each day.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

An appreciation for the arts would be a movement that we believe would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people. The arts are an outlet for so many people of all ages to express their ideas, work through challenging times, and help them grow. However, the arts have always been the first area that is cut out of schools, cut out of funding, and removed from the lives of so many people who benefit from them.

We would like to create a movement to build a respect for the arts and the impact that they have on people, how they can change someone’s day or even someone’s life. We have felt the impact of the arts on our lives, the lives of the dancers we meet and even our own children. We know how critical it can be, and that is why we would like to start this movement. Various states have prioritized bringing back the arts during difficult times and we know that it has definitely benefited its citizens. We would aim to have all states understand how much it helps all those in the area, and try to see the arts as a priority not an option.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can”

Martha Graham

This quote is particularly relevant to us because we have had so many obstacles that have stood in the path of getting to where we are today. We have a million reasons for why we shouldn’t have been able to create Shake the Ground and Universal Ballet Competition, plenty of people who have told us we might not succeed, even our own doubts. But, we have held tight to the idea, that we need just one reason why, one dancer who needs the opportunity, and one thing to make us say “let’s do it”

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Mikhail Baryshnikov would definitely be someone we would love to have lunch with. We have looked up to him as an artist and role model from the time we started out in the field, and we know he would be able to provide invaluable insight.

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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