Desean Taber was born in New London, Connecticut. From the time he was a toddler, he loved to dance. It has always been his way to express his emotions. As a child he played many different sports in private school, (tennis, soccer, sailing, and horseback riding), but he always had a love for dancing. Taber’s older sister was a competition ballroom dancer. She would pick him up as a toddler and dance with him. He loved it so much that one day his mother signed him up for ballet classes with the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, where he began ballet training at age 12 with Victoria Mazzarelli and Eleanor D'Antuono. Taber attended the Miami City Ballet School in 2011. In 2012 he joined Boston Ballet School as a Trainee, under the direction of Margaret Tracey. Taber attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, The Harid Conservatory, San Francisco Ballet School, Boston Ballet's Summer Dance Program, and Banff Professional Dance Program. Taber also participated in the exchange program between Boston Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet. Taber joined Boston Ballet II in 2014 and Corps de Ballet in 2016. Ballet continues to be his outlet for emotional and artistic expression.
What gets you out of bed in the mornings?
Quite honestly my day begins with my cat, Mason, waking me up with kisses to feed him. So technically that wakes me up, but I also enjoy a hot cup of English Breakfast tea in the morning as a little pick me up. Mornings at the ballet are also a nice social time. We are usually laughing, catching up, and talking as we warm up and get ready for class and the rest of the day.
How did you start dancing?
I was always dancing around the house when I was a little child. My sister and I were really into musical theater, so we would dance, sing, and put on shows for our family. I also participated in different sports, (tennis, basketball, soccer, horseback riding, swimming, and sailing). Since my sister and I were so active and loved music and dancing, my mother enrolled us in ballet classes, when I was around four years old. I was not a fan at first, although I loved the feeling of dancing. I wanted to play sports with my friends, so I quit until I was 8. I tried it again and quit again to play sports with friends, but I felt like something was missing, and I was not happy. When I was 12, I went back to ballet classes, because I knew that's where my heart was, and I haven’t stopped since.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
I feel like every year I switch my most memorable moments of my career. So far, my top three are as follows: 1. Getting hired into Boston Ballet, which was so exciting that I felt as if my dreams were finally coming true. 2. Working with John Neumeier for Malhers Third Symphony, which is an incredibly powerful ballet, and John is fascinating with his ideas and choreography. 3. My most recent memorable moment would be working with William Forsythe personally in his piece Artifacts 2017. This piece is so intense and creative, there are a lot of featured dances for men and it is quite athletic. I love working with William. He expects you to be the most "fierce" and "incredible" version of yourself, and he brings it out of you. I think this experience is improving my dancing and artistic ability, especially since I am so young.
Desean Taber @BostonBallet
Who is my biggest role model and why?
Of course, there are ballet stars, and celebrities that I am interested in, but my biggest role models are my parents. My parents have been helping people all around the world for their whole life. They have probably been to almost every continent and have helped countless children and families, teaching them, helping them move to America, visiting hospitals, and trying to make a difference in improving the quality of life of people around the world. I hope that when I am older I can use dance and other skills I have to do the same thing.
Do you have a specific routine of warming up, to get prepared for performances and big roles?
I actually become very silent before performances. I like to concentrate all my energy and zone into my thoughts and ideas before I go out on stage. Often times I listen to upbeat music with a strong beat, just to get into that musical and strong vibe. I'm also very lucky because I share a dressing room with almost all my closest friends so it's nice to have them around when you are feeling stressed or worried. For warming up I do a quick little barre, mostly focusing on fifth position exercises, and I like to do minor Pilates focusing on my core and dynamic flexibility exercises to release the muscles without forcing anything.
Which is your favourite theatre throughout the world to dance in?
Well of course there are so many that hopefully one day I will get to dance in. So I will just start with my favorite one in America. Ever since I was little, my parents have taken me into New York City to see Broadway shows and ballets. My dream would be to dance at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln center. I just love the theater and it holds so many fun, exciting childhood memories, I think seeing the ballets at the Opera House is where I discovered that one day I wanted to do the same thing.
How is company life at Boston Ballet?
I love Boston Ballet. Ever since the first day I arrived at the school as a trainee I fell in love with the city, the people and the dancing. It automatically felt like home. So now to join the company is truly a dream come true. Everyone in the company is really supportive. The principles and soloists are so sweet and help guide new dancers by passing on their knowledge or giving corrections. It is an open and family-like environment. The artistic staff is well rounded and incredible at each style they teach, from Balanchine to classical, to more contemporary. I think it is so important to keep a well-rounded company.
Do you have any hidden talents?
There are a lot of other passions I have in my life actually. I love to design and when I have down time I draw clothing and interior designs. As I mentioned before, I used to play a lot of sports and still enjoy a few of them.
Photo by Igor Burlak Photography
What are your favourite ballet tricks or steps?
I enjoy ballets that are athletic and involve a lot of dancing. I also enjoy being myself and not having to portray a character role. I also love jumping, because I feel free and weightless up there.
What is the hardest role you have performed?
There have been quite a few physically and mentally demanding roles that I have had to tackle. Some of the leading roles in Balanchine ballets which are sharp and technical and require a lot of hard random counts, and some classical roles which are about placement and position... something my body struggles with sometimes, for I am more of a mover. Some of these roles include: Donezettti Variations, Divertimento No.15 principle, Pastoral Boy Nutcracker, Lead Russian Nutcracker, and currently I am learning many more for the end of this year so hopefully I will have more to add to the list soon ranging from Kilyan to Forysthe to Petipa!
What is your escape from the ballet world?
I think two major things come to mind. One is that I am studying at the Northeastern University of Professional Studies. This program allows me with my busy schedule to still learn and receive college credits, and it takes up so much time that I don't even have time to think about ballet. The other would be traveling! I love having ballet friends, but it is also important to have friends who don't dance, as they put real world problems into perspective. I love traveling around the world to see my friend. It's a great way to forget that bad performance or annoying casting or anything else you might need to forget.
Any advice for young aspiring dancers, who want to become professional dancers?
My biggest advice to anyone in life is that you have to want it for yourself. There are going to be a lot of really hard times, injuries, and difficult situations that go along with whatever you do. I had many people tell me, when I was younger, what was wrong with my body and that I would never be a professional dancer, yet here I am now. If you truly love something, invest all your time and energy into it and good things will begin to happen, but only if you truly want it for yourself.