We had the good fortune of connecting with Mara Driscoll and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mara, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in Boulder, where I trained in dance at the Boulder Ballet School and decided I wanted to be a professional dancer. My dancing eventually took me to New York City, where I had the opportunity to work with diverse groups of dancers and musicians. I was performing with the Metropolitan Opera when the pandemic hit, and when the situation escalated and the opera closed and furloughed its artists, I returned home to Boulder. It was very difficult to watch New York’s booming performance scene vanish almost overnight, and when I returned to Boulder, I sensed the loss the community felt when beloved summer arts festivals cancelled their seasons. I created Boulder Arts Outdoors to fill that void and to bring uplifting respite, inspiration, and social conversation to the community. My programming for BAO was very much influenced by the international range of performance I was exposed to in New York City and also by my love for Boulder and the unique performance culture I was immersed in as a child.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As an adolescent, I was very focused on classical ballet, and I owe a lot of my work ethic and sense of aspiration to that training. When I was 20 years old, I became eager to learn about aspects of life that lie outside of the practice and culture of ballet, so I got my B.A. at the Gallatin School for Individualized Study at N.Y.U. I definitely owe a lot of my outlook to that education, and it only intensified my love for performance because I was able to see it through a sociohistorical lens. After college, I continued my dance career and ended up at companies that pushed me to absorb elements of contemporary dance, tango, Middle Eastern folk dance, salsa, ballroom, and hip hop, and that also introduced me to multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary settings. I turned my efforts to producing Boulder Arts Outdoors in June, and I think the breadth of my artistic exposure, the thoughtfulness instilled by my education, and the tenacity I developed in my work as a dancer are what have allowed me to overcome the current obstacles and bring meaningful performance to the community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am going to adjust this itinerary to the COVID-19 era, because I believe the present limitations don’t need to stop us from having a great time. I am also based in Boulder, so my choices skew to that area: No trip to Boulder is complete without a visit to Chautauqua, Pearl Street and the Boulder Book Store, and a stop at the Trident Booksellers and Cafe. My list of restaurant destinations is adjusted to include the places from which I have been getting amazing takeout during the pandemic. We would not miss Alloy Thai, Curry and Kabob, Santo, and Pizzeria Locale. These days, we are doing drinks at home, so we would stock up at the Boulder Wine Merchant. We would also definitely take numerous hikes — locally, we would hit Bear Peak, Rattlesnake Gulch, and the Mesa Trail, and then we would get up into the high country to Herman Gulch, Betty and Bob Lakes, and Twin Sisters Peaks. Depending on the season, we’d throw in a night or two of backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park. *I want to give an honorable mention to the many wonderful performance venues in the area. The Dairy, The Boulder Theater, E-Town Theater, and Macky Auditorium would be on this list and will be again soon!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have influenced my journey and without whom I wouldn’t be where I am! I’d love to give a shoutout to Ana Claire, Barbara Demaree, and Anna Warrener, who were my childhood teachers at the Boulder Ballet School, and Katie Elliott at 3rd Law Dance/Theater, who was my modern dance teacher. They really ignited my love for dance and performance. I’d also love to thank each of the 78 fabulous artists who performed at Boulder Arts Outdoors in August and September (visit the BAO website to read about all of them!), and every person who donated time and money to make the festivals a reality. I want to give a big shoutout to my mentor, Mark Heiser, and finally to my parents, Claire Levy and David Driscoll, my sister, Ellie Driscoll, and my partner, Bobby Mittelstadt, whose love, feedback, and encouragement have made all the difference in my life.
Linkedin: Mara Driscoll
Facebook: Boulder Arts Outdoors