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Eugenia Douglas O’Brien (B.F.A. ‘73, dance)

“I’m paying it forward.”

–Eugenia Douglas O’Brien (B.F.A. ’73, dance), Founder and Artistic Director of the Portland Ballet and Portland Ballet School


“I could not even imagine achieving what I have done without the foundation I built at The Boston Conservatory. Because the Conservatory setting exposed me to so much, I have a global view of how to run a company and make dance happen. For all of us, no matter who we are, somebody helped us get where we are today—and for me that was the Conservatory. Knowing the opportunities the Conservatory provided me means that by supporting the Conservatory, I’m providing those opportunities to someone else. I’m paying it forward. I want to help prepare The Boston Conservatory’s dancers for their futures.

Giving to The Boston Conservatory creates a ripple effect, because the Conservatory is an incubator. It is a laboratory for artists, a place where they can have their own breakthroughs and discoveries. And the thing is, it only takes one person reaching a higher level of artistry to affect everybody at the Conservatory and beyond. If you have one teacher who’s amazing and exciting and gets the whole department revved up, that’s the ripple effect. That department’s inspired students graduate, go back home and take that excitement with them. They become ambassadors for the arts. 

We need to communicate as a society—and the arts provide us with an avenue to do that. The arts represent what is happening in the world. They challenge us to think and to approach things differently and provide a forum for discussion of many topics, from those as unspeakable as domestic violence and the horror of war to a recognition of the beauty around us. The performing arts expand peoples’ sense of what is possible in this world, and I think that’s worth supporting.”

Eugenia Douglas O’Brien graduated in 1973 with a B.F.A. in dance. She is the founder and artistic director of the Portland Ballet and the Portland Ballet School, in Maine. She is a member of The Boston Conservatory’s Alumni Affairs Committee.

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