The Next Step in the Dance
By Siddhartha Mitter
Why would a promising, 25-year-old dancer leave a steady gig with a prestigious company to go to graduate school?
For Donald Borror, who enrolled in TC’s Arts Administration program this fall after performing for three seasons with New York City’s Ballet Hispanico, the answer is: to devote himself more to his art, not less.
“Conservatory training tends to make artists in a box, and that seems to be less of a career model in today’s marketplace,” says Borror. “There are fewer opportunities for people to use the skill set they learn in conservatory settings. When that skill set runs dry – when there are no more auditions – they leave the field. I think it’s important that the idea of being an artist is expanded into not just getting a dance job, but making dance jobs.”
Performing with Ballet Hispanico, whose mission is to celebrate Latino cultures through multiple genres of dance, made Borror, who is half-Colombian, even more aware of the importance of expanding arts opportunities – for audiences as well as artists.
“It helped me understand the role an arts organization can fill for a specific community: to be able to speak to them and for them, and bring people to something that broadens their horizon of what it means to be a part of that culture,” he says.
Dance has been Borror’s life from his teens, when he left home in Columbus, Ohio, to board at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Massachusetts. He got his ballet training there and his modern training at Juilliard, where he also earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He also loves musical theater and comedy – “cheesing it up, the celebratory aspect of performance.” A large tattoo of Swanhilde, the heroine of the comic ballet Coppélia, adorns his forearm. (He also sports a map of Ohio.)
Now he’s thinking about teaching, choreography and, ultimately, perhaps directing his own company.
“I want to create jobs so that talented dancers don’t have to devalue their skill set by working for free,” he says.
In TC’s master’s degree program in Arts Administration, Borror joins classmates with widely varied professional experience in many different arts fields. “We’ve already had lots of lively conversations,” he says. “I’m excited to be challenged by my peers about ideas I’ve had about arts management, and to learn to think critically about problems we don’t have answers to yet.
“I am losing a very personal part of the experience, communicating with the audience directly as a performer. But coming here is a logical step in making dance even more important in my life.”
Watch a videotaped interview with Donald Borror.