Furthering My Education

David Strobbe, Sono Osato Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies Recipient

Tom Hiddleston once said that “Artists instinctively want to reflect humanity, their own and each other’s, in all its intermittent virtue and vitality, frailty and fallibility.”  This instinct to express ideas through dance with integrity has been a part of my journey as a dancer and now as an administrator.  My goal is to become a leader of an arts organization, encouraging artists to express their ideas, educate the public, and breakdown cultural barriers.

Michael Smuin's Fly Me To The Moon with music by Frank SinatraMy journey as a dancer started simply enough, dancing around the living room to music – the instinct to move that dancers have.  After four years of training, family pressure forced me to quit dancing to pursue undergraduate studies.  The desire to dance, however, was so intense that I returned to dance class after one year of college and became a professional dancer with the Hong Kong Ballet Company the following year.  In addition, I danced with Cleveland Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Smuin Ballet performing leading roles all over the world.

After 16 years of dancing professionally, I transitioned into the artistic administration of Smuin Ballet as Ballet Master.  When I met with Founder and Director Michael Smuin to discuss my retirement, he said, “No, you are more than just a dancer here.”  He got up form his chair, hugged me, and let me walk out of the room still a part of his family – Smuin Ballet.

That was the last time I saw him.  He died in the studio two weeks later.  Becoming the Ballet Master was the hardest event in my career, but I knew that Michael was behind me all the way.  Supporting my fellow company members while still maintaining Michael’s vision was tough, but using my natural leadership skills, we were able to succeed with extraordinary reviews in New York only four months later.  It was at this point that I knew I had found my calling; to lead artists in a way that will bring out their very best and nurture them to grow as artists.

I currently work in the Rehearsal Department at the Metropolitan Opera.  Branching out into different forms of performance art has enabled me to expand my horizons while at the same time still helping to support artists to be the best they can be on of the world’s biggest stages.

At this point in my career, my desire is to further my education and obtain a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Baruch College.  This will provide me the additional skills needed to reach my ultimate goal:  leading an international arts organization.  I wish to help build an organization with outreach that will go beyond the border of our country; preserving the integrity of the organization’s mission while not compromising the artistic ideas and forms of expression.

My journey from dancer to administrator to leader is one of excitement, hope, instinct, and determination.  I am looking forward to the next step in my career, which will be aided by the skills that I hope to learn in Baruch’s Graduate Program with the support from the Sono Osato Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies.


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