Renaissance Man

Vol. 18 •Issue 15 • Page 23
Renaissance Man

Florida Therapist Masters Many Talents

Jose “Tony” Lammoglia is a man of broad intellectual interests, a true Renaissance man with accomplishments in both the arts and the sciences. Like Leonardo Da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man, Lammoglia has mastered the intricacies of machinery, is intrigued by the workings of the human body, writes extensively on a variety of topics and is a renowned artist in his own right.

Today, he seamlessly juggles his full-time position as a respiratory therapist at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami with ongoing scholarly pursuits and professional dance engagements.

A Man of Passions

Lammoglia’s diverse passions include dance, respiratory therapy, anthropology and electrical work on motor vehicles. He has enjoyed a wide-ranging, eclectic education, obtaining an AS degree in respiratory therapy from Miami Dade Community College and an MA degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University. He holds a diploma from the American Board of Case Management and attended the American Institute of Medical Law in Miami. His bachelor’s degree is in fine arts from the New World School of the Arts in Miami.

“My life has been a series of very fortunate accidents,” he mused. “I can’t honestly say that I’ve planned my life, and I don’t know what the future holds. But my life has planned itself, and I’m enjoying every bit of it!”

Lammoglia’s professional memberships range from the Congress of Dance Research and the Caribbean Studies Association to the American Association for Respiratory Care. By combining his expert knowledge and experience in these diverse fields, he has been able to write diverse academic papers like “Franco-African Dance Forms and Identity in the Caribbean” and “Suffering, Pain and Death in a Multi-Cultural, Multi-Ethnic and Multi-Religious Setting: Miami.”

An Inquisitive Child

Born in Guantanamo, Cuba, to an Italian father and a French mother, the therapist-dancer speaks English, Spanish, Italian and French fluently. He was a voracious reader as a child and questioned the version of Cuban history written in the state-mandated textbooks. Realizing such inquiries could be dangerous under communist rule in Castro’s Cuba, his parents sent him at age 14 to live in Spain with friends of his grandmother.

In Spain, he was eventually befriended by a monsignor in the Catholic church. Inspired by the priest’s example, Lammoglia wanted to enter the priesthood but was dissuaded when the priest pointed out that his questioning stance on religious issues would eventually get him into trouble with the church.

A Health Career

Lammoglia has a particular fondness for children and at one point planned a career as a child psychiatrist. “I’ve always felt that children are a silent voice and believed that I could help them speak out. I was accepted at a medical school in Spain but also got a scholarship for ballet classes. You can see which one I chose,” he chuckled.

Still, he wanted to work in the health care field and eventually found a position as a pharmacy technician at Kendall Regional Medical Center (formerly American Hospital) when he came to the United States. “The hospital was considered a jewel among Miami hospitals, and I knew I wanted to keep working there,” he explained. “Four pharmacists encouraged me to take a two-year respiratory therapy program and then helped me get a job at the hospital.”

Working full-time as an RT at the hospital, Lammoglia appreciates the support hospital managers offer for his artistic endeavors. “In June, I’ll be attending a seminar in Denton, Texas, on the Haitina Barroque Dance. In the fall, I’ll be presenting a paper on the dances of the Tumba Francesca in the Dominican Republic. I have a great boss, and he respects the many interests and activities I have outside of my job,” he said.

Dance and Respiratory Therapy

Lammoglia described the symbiotic relationship between his work in health care and his professional dancing: “I think jumping in ballet is like flying, and in general the stage is a way of traveling and of detaching oneself from pain, that permanent component of earthly life for us mortals.”

The same teaching skills that make Lammoglia such a good RT have helped him achieve a coveted position in the world of dance. He is a master teacher of Tango Argentino through the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and is a dance history instructor at the Harid Conservatory of Music and the New World School of the Arts.

He has taught Spanish dance and Argentinian tango at the Ballet Academy of Miami and is a founding member of the Ballet Etudes Company in Miami. Many of his respiratory therapy and nursing colleagues attend his performances in the Miami area.

Lammoglia has been asked to demonstrate some dances from the bolero school of dancing at an upcoming festival in Miami. “It’s a dance of the 18th century court that is very balletic in style and it’s complicated. Essentially, I dance while playing castanets between the notes of the music.”

Lammoglia also dances frequently as a guest artist for local ballet groups. “Actually, I dance for any company that hires me. I just love to dance! In the near future, I’ll be playing the part of Herr Drosselmyer in the Nutcracker for the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet which has been modified just for me.” In that innovative dance, he will assume a mysterious role while wearing a Venetian-like mask and will incorporate classical ballet steps that basically mime what Clara is doing at each point.

Never one to rest on his past accomplishments, Lammoglia will begin studying for his PhD in religion at Temple University in Philadelphia next January. “I hope to incorporate further work on the religious aspects of the tumba dance form.”

Did You Say ‘Ballet Dancer?’

“It’s interesting to watch people’s faces when I talk about my different interests,” Lammoglia laughed. “For a period of time, I worked reconstructing the electrical parts of a car, and the people around me would say, ‘Excuse me, did you say you were a classical ballet dancer?’ I would explain to them that I don’t wear my tights when I’m working on a car!”

Lammoglia frequently finds that his eclectic interests overlap and intertwine in new and different ways. Having once met the famous ballerina Margot Fonteyn, he planned a trip to Panama after her death to see the theater where she had danced and to visit the famous canal. “I hired a gentleman in his 80s as a guide, and I was his only client because it was the low season for tourists. When he found out that I was a ballet dancer who had studied mechanical things, he found a lady engineer who took me on a special tour of the canal. It was a highlight. It’s amazing how that huge canal system works with just water pressure. It’s just amazing!”

Later, he treated his elderly guide to lunch to digest some local anthropology and culture.

Lammoglia smiled as he recalled the guide’s bewilderment at trying to correlate the tourist’s interests in mechanical things, dance and anthropology.

Life of Rewarding Accidents

“I’ve lived a life of very rewarding accidents,” Lammoglia said. “When I was younger, I listened to broadcasts of all the launches at Cape Canaveral. Naturally I wanted to be an astronaut. Starting out as a kid from Cuba who wanted to be an astronaut, I’ve done just about everything but go to the moon!”

As he ages, he wants to prove there is a career in dancing for older people. “We have this culture of youth,” he said. “They think after 25, you’re over the hill. But as for me, I plan to keep dancing until my last step.”

Sandy Keefe is a California practitioner.