Jacob John Borg’s latest commitments included dancing with Contempo Physical Dance company (Afro-Brazilian Contemporary) directed by Marciano Silva Dos Santos, as well as being part of JLo’s performance at the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis, US. Having begun dancing at the age of five, he competes and performs internationally and teaches ballroom dances. Having started from the classics, he discovered modern dance when he went to the US to study at St Olaf College, where he graduated with distinction.
Jacob won the title of Minnesota’s Pro/Am Champion in both American Smooth and Latin dance styles together with his dance partner Elena Bersten, the owner of Dance with Us America. He was also the first male member of the St. Olaf Dance Team. Now he’s moving back to Malta and is ready to tell us all about it.
Eve: Soon you’re moving back again to Malta. Why did you make this decision, and why you’re coming back after such years?
Jacob John Borg: I’ve been living abroad since 2011. I left Malta to attend high school at UWC Adriatic – Collegio del Mondo Unito dell’Adriatico, in Italy. This college is one amongst 16 others that are scattered around the world to promote peace, sustainability, and cultural exploration through living with 200 students coming from 89 different countries. I was lucky to win a fully funded Scholarship through Malta’s Department of Education.
After graduating in 2013, I was offered a fully funded scholarship by St. Olaf College, originally intending to study Biology, Chemistry, and Russian. Part of the scholarship was covered by the dance department of St. Olaf College, and in order to maintain it, I was required to be involved and take classes through the department of Dance during my four years there. Once classes started I immediately fell in love with the Dance Department and it wasn’t the end of my third year at St. Olaf that I decided to graduate only in Dance.
Since I graduated College I had the chance to work and perform professionally. By now, I am very confident to say that I have found my own voice in dance and have a rather distinct movement quality and vocabulary. This brings me to the point of why I want to move back to Malta.
Even though I was offered to have my visa sponsored by my current employers to continue living and working in the United States, I decided to drop the offer and move back. My intentions moving to the US were never to live here, but to study in a more diverse setting, be culturally challenged, and finally to acquire a well-rounded education. Thus, knowing that I am still curious and hungry for knowledge, I have decided to move back to Malta to eventually continue my education and to continue to find clarity in my artistic voice.
Eve: One of your latest highlights was that you danced for Jennifer Lopez. Can you share this experience with our readers?
JJB: Yes, last February I had the chance to perform for the pre- and post-show event of Jennifer Lopez herself. Jennifer Lopez was responsible for the Super Saturday Night before the 2018 Super Bowl American Football game. I was asked to move and behave in an animalistic way, embodying the movements of an iguana. Although for some it might be strange, it was a lifetime experience. I was spray-painted in green body paint – it took make-up artists over four hours to get me ready.
Eve: In your opinion, is one born a dancer or is it rather a matter of determination and will?
JJB: This is a very hard question to answer. Do natural dancers have an advantage on those who aren’t “natural dancers”? Definitely. Some people are lucky to be more flexible than others, have higher arches, move gracefully, and more. However, it does not end there. During my four years of teaching experience, I have seen dancers who aren’t considered to be “born a dancer” succeed and score higher than those considered to be “born a dancer”. It is about the passion and drive of the individual, how many hours of practice they put in this art form, and most importantly it’s key for the individuals themselves to know what their goals are. I do not consider myself to be a natural dancer, but I’ve been working hard on it, dancing over 40 hours a week during the last 2 years of my college career, and currently working in dance on a full time basis. Do I consider myself to be successful? I sure think so!
Eve: What do you remember about your first dance show?
JJB: I do not recall my first exact performance, but I do remember those when I was about seven years old. What I remember before every single dance event is that during the day of the performance I make sure to take my time to get in the mood, prepare my body to move, and listen to the music I am to dance to over and over again.
Eve: When you’re not dancing, what do you do that gives you equal pleasure?
JJB: I love that nothing is comparable, because if something can give me the same amount of pleasure, why would dance remain so special and unique to me? I appreciate that dance remains so different and fulfilling because it is a motivation in itself to continue pursuing this athletic art form. Many might think that it is easy to dance, but it might take days, if not weeks to master a particular move or sequence, and therefore it is great to not find a different activity that provides me with equal pleasure. If it weren’t the case, the different activity might become a distraction for me as a professional dancer.