Ballet and beyond: Ballerina prepares for life after dance
Diana De Ojeda started her ballet lessons since she was a toddler in Paraguay. She accompanied her aunt to and from her cousin’s ballet lessons. One day, she, 3 years old at the time, asked if she could join. “And I never left,” she said, with a wide smile.
She has studied ballet across five countries: Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the United States. She’s currently second soloist in the Boston Ballet and was named one of El Mundo’s “30 Under 30” as one of the most influential Latino leaders in Boston.
But now she is no longer 30; she is 32 and still a phenomenal dancer. One day she will be 40 and most ballet dancers are considered past their prime age by then. While looking for new ways to express her artistry and her love for Latin America, she found a partnership between the Boston Ballet and Northeastern University, that helps professional ballet dancers earn college degrees and to prepare them for careers after dancing, provided the answer.
Now, she’s launching Apartment No. 3, a home décor company dedicated to selling the handmade crafts native to Paraguay. De Ojeda’s home décor store, still in its infancy, will offer traditional artisanal tapestries and weavings that are native to each town in Paraguay.
“Northeastern gave me the tools to be able to start my own company,” De Ojeda said. “The experience gave me the confidence to do it.”
She was invited to dance with the Companhia Jovem do Rio de Janeiro, a ballet company in Rio de Janeiro. She was there for two years with her mother. Soon they were hit by a sad news that her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent surgery, recovered, and was well until 2013, when it returned. She was given six months to live, De Ojeda said, but defied the odds for four years. She died in October 2017. De Ojeda always feels like her mother is pushing her forward to pursue her true mission.
In the early 2000s, De Ojeda made the decision to pursue ballet in the United States. In 2011, she auditioned for and secured a spot in the Boston Ballet, one of the world’s leading ballet companies. Four years later, she was promoted to the company’s second soloist. She has performed in notable productions such as Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker, among dozens of others.
Her success has opened up doors for all the Paraguayan girls dreaming of being a ballet dancer. They have her to look up to and belief that they too can do it. One needs to give their hundred percent if they want to be a ballet dancer. It needs total dedication and passion to be able to spend 8-10 hours a day for a professional ballet dancer.
Starting the company is another new challenge, and one that she’s eager to tackle, especially with the unwavering support of her family, she said. If you want to do something, no one can you stop you from achieving your goals.