Donna loved to dance, move, and create ever since she was a young girl and was on stage in the Nutcracker with a professional ballet company by age nine. She chose to focus on her pre-professional training at the Botsford School and thus began her intensive and exhilarating career in dance and the performing arts!
Enid Knapp Botsford was a visionary who founded the leading Botsford School of Dance in Rochester, NY. Donna had the privilege to train there under the tutelage of an internationally renowned staff including Patricia Wilde, Jurgen Schneider, Anton Dolin, George Zoritch, Miguel Lopez, Woytek Lowski, Kathleen Crofton, and Fernando Bujones. Her comprehensive studies were supported by a full scholarship from Enid and husband Brent Orcutt. Sir Anton Dolin who was involved in planning and programming with Enid and later Jurgen Schneider picked her to study his teaching methods and he worked with her on these methods whilst she trained at Botsfords and when she was on breaks from the Cleveland Ballet.
After her training in Rochester Donna continued her studies in NYC with full scholarships to both the Melissa Hayden Dance Studio and the David Howard Dance Centre. There she had the joy to work with luminaries such as David Howard, Marjorie Mussman, Wilhelm Burmann, Bobby Blankshine, Diana Cartier, and Melissa Hayden.
Her first professional dance engagement was with Kathleen Crofton’s Festival Ballet of New York. Botsford School had a satellite programme with American Ballet Theatre directed by Lucia Chase and then later by Baryshnikov and Boston Ballet directed by Virginia Williams. While still a student Donna performed with both companies.
Later joining the exciting Cleveland Ballet at the peak of its success, she performed in an eclectic repertoire which included works by Balanchine, Nahat, Horvath, Falco, and De Mille. She went on to dance with many independent choreographers such as Diane Coburn Bruning, was a frequent guest artist with the Glimmerglass Opera New York, and worked extensively with Milton Myers, Robin Staff and Michael Mao in New York City. After a season with the Giessen Ballet of Germany she toured internationally, performing in Paris, Oslo, and throughout Mexico with the Cervantino Arts Festival, and in the US. Her dancing can also be seen in the PBS film "Martin" directed by artist, activist, and LIFE photographer Gordon Parks.
Donna has focused on her teaching for the last sixteen years in both America and Europe. In America she taught for the Botsford School, David Howard Dance Centre, Minnesota Ballet and MB School, Michael Mao Dance Company, the Lou Conte Dance Studio and Hubbard Street Dance Company, Columbus Dance Theatre, and the Dansummer program in Colorado. Her teaching repertoire included company class, pointe classes, partnering, variations, Horton technique, and creative movement for children. This summer she will create and offer a special class for adult learners aged 75+ for a senior centre in Barrington, Illinois.
In Europe she has guest taught for Geneva Ballet, Tanz Werk Nuernberg, Ballet Freiburg, Basel Tanztheater, the Bruckner Conservatory, Berlin's Dance in August, Cologne Dance Agency, Modern Dance Turkey, the Linz Ballet, Dance Workplace in Copenhagen, Tanz* Hotel Vienna. At the Tanz im August festival her classes specialised in combining elements of contemporary dance within a structured ballet class. She has also created and presented a popular workshop which combined the elements of ballet and the Alexander technique.
In London she taught daily technique classes for young adults at Millennium Dance 2000 a leading Performing Arts University, for two and one half years, open classes for professionals at The Gielgud Foundation, The Park Club, The Hogarth Club, and guest taught at The Dance Movement, Robert Hylton's Urban Classicism and Laban. She has also worked as a Director of Rehearsals and Assistant-to-the-Director for companies in the US and Europe. Donna qualified to teach the Zena Rommett Floor-Barre Technique® in NYC.
As a choreographer her pieces have been shown at the Smithy Gallery NY, Minnesota Ballet, Dansummer Colorado, Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre NYC, Dance Now NYC, Southern Theatre Minneapolis, Columbus DanceTheater, Theater aus der Zeche, Germany and in the short dance film “doubletake.”
“the always within never” her latest piece which is about individuals within a community was created for the Columbus Dance Theatre for their Women’s’ Works programme. This was choreographed to music by Dirk Raulf premiered May 2010, and was very well received by the public.
The short dance film “doubletake” was completed in June 2009 and was directed by Suzanne Gielgud. It is part one of four parts and is an edgy powerful female duet with music by Kris Derry. It was selected to screen at the Marbella International Film festival in October, 2010.
July 2007 saw Donna participating with the Food Doctor on the popular talk show “ Richard and Judy”. Donna had to teach five very unfit men a proper ballet class! July 2010 ted Media will be filming her adult ballet class for their “ Get Active!” Series.Donna and her team are currently preparing for Big Dance Days 2012.
In January 2004 Donna started offering a high standard of ballet tuition to adult learners in West London. This unique approach has proven to be a very popular idea and her organisation has grown from one class and one teacher to over subscribed beginner courses, private tuition, three drop-in classes each week, and a staff of three excellent teachers and assistant! She is so pleased and proud that her work and ideas have helped to make good quality dance training accessible to so many people regardless of age and ability.
Donna currently resides with her husband and son in West London where she is an active member of the community and is constantly aiming to raise awareness of the performing arts that are on offer. She is busy with a variety of creative and exciting projects which include making a piece on her adult students for an intimate showing to take place in West London, the completion of the dance film project "doubletake" , and putting together a series of workshops with colleagues. She invite you to join a class at any time and welcomes your feedback!
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