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Arts & Life

Borinquen Dance Theatre marks 40th anniversary

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A local dance company that not only trains young dancers but also provides them with a deeper connection to the Rochester community is celebrating a milestone this weekend.

Borinquen Dance Theatre, which has represented the cultural traditions and origins of Puerto Rico, is holding a 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday.

Borinquen began in 1981, when Nydia Padilla-Rodriguez, the founder of the organization who is also its artistic director, was working with choreographer Garth Fagan who prompted her to offer dance lessons in Rochester.

Borinquen, which Padilla-Rodriguez said is a name that comes from the original name for Puerto Rico, has worked with more than a thousand students over the last four decades.

And Padilla-Rodriguez, who is also a former longtime administrator in the Rochester City School District, said that the instruction the young students get at Borinquen goes beyond dance.

“It’s more about self-development, building their sense of belonging, their self-esteem, believing in themselves, understanding that structure, consistency, discipline, and being part of a program that has so much rigor.” Padilla-Rodriquez noted that experience ”will transfer over to the rest of your life.”

Padilla-Rodriguez pointed with pride to success stories involving her former students including someone who reconnected with her recently, who is now a doctor and offered $1,000 scholarship for Borinquen so someone else can benefit from the kind of training and discipline that the former student got with the dance company. 

Padilla-Rodriguez said that it’s also important to provide a connection for the newer residents of Rochester who have just moved here from Puerto Rico.

“It’s a cultural shock for them…they have a way to connect with the culture and feel like, wow, this is something that I would never have believed existed outside of Puerto Rico,” Padilla-Rodriguez said.

The 40th anniversary is being celebrated in Rochester Saturday night with live performances, dinner and a silent auction. It starts at 6pm at the Harro East Ballroom.

Proceeds from the event will support Borinquen’s mission, “Building the desire to succeed through the discipline of dance.”