About the Company

The Inner City Ensemble provides free training and performing opportunities to under-resourced children in Paterson NJ, and also compensates its pre-professional teenage company members, who perform alongside alumni and guest artists.

New works are created by Executive Artistic Director, Nicholas Rodriguez and company members, as well as guest choreographers. The Company repertory explores identity and belonging, immigration, and social justice and reform themes.

Our training integrates social-emotional support, research and education, and classes in multidisciplinary techniques. Company members also teach novice dancers, and the troupe performs locally and regionally

Company History

Early Grassroots

In 1973, Ralph Gomez, an actor, teacher, playwright-director and activist, founded the Inner City Ensemble in Paterson, NJ, to provide free arts training for at-risk youth. In time, the Company secured a home and garnered local and national recognition and praise. The original troupe performed at Town Hall, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, and other prominent NJ & NYC venues.  The organization disbanded in 1986 after the untimely death of its founder.

About the Founder

Ralph Gomez was born in Newark, NJ, and raised in Lakewood, N.J. He received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Theater from William Paterson College and a Master’s Degree in social work from Rutgers University. ‘Ralph’ and a committed staff and various Boards of Directors, worked tirelessly to grow and sustain the nonprofit for more than a decade. Gomez wrote and directed plays, premiered new plays by emerging playwrights, and he believed in the transformative, healing power of the arts, while promoting social issues through theatre and arts advocacy.

Executive Artistic Director

Juilliard graduate and Fulbright Scholar, Nicholas Rodriguez, began training with Ralph Gomez at the Inner City Ensemble in his hometown of Paterson, NJ. Rodriguez has received four Choreography Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and he has also created countless original dances, including works for the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, American Repertory Ballet, and others. His works have also been presented at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Paterson Great Falls, and in South America, where he has taught extensively.