College of Education grad pursues career in dance
Richy Romero’s made some noteworthy changes over the past year.
In the First State Ballet Theatre production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” at the Grand Opera House this spring, he danced the role of Von Rothbart, a wicked sorcerer who changes the lovely Odette into a swan, and who can change himself into an owl when it suits his purposes.
About a month later, he crossed the stage at the Chase Center on the Riverfront to graduate from Wilmington University with a Bachelor of Science in Education Studies, a change of course from the Elementary Education (K-6) bachelor’s he began here. It’s a change that has enabled him to pursue a career in dance instead of the classroom teaching he’d once envisioned.
Dancers are, after all, known for being flexible.
“I love working with kids,” says Romero. “But over the past two years I’ve realized that Zoom meetings and online learning were not a part of my passion for education. I had to re-evaluate my studies.”
At the same time, he was considering his next move in dance, and planning to join his partner where she enrolled in graduate school. “As a dancer, you send out your resume of things you’ve done, and you audition,” he says. Last fall, when the Denver, Colorado-based modern ballet group Wonderbound invited him to join the company for its 2022-23 season, he leapt at the opportunity.
Romero was determined to finish his degree, though he was no longer sure about Elementary Education’s semester of student teaching and the professional exams required for a state teaching license. Dr. James Boyd, a faculty advisor in WilmU’s College of Education and Liberal Arts, helped point him toward the non-licensure bachelor’s in Education Studies, a teaching-adjacent degree.
“Academically, it was an easy step. He had a great GPA, he had credits to spare,” says Dr. Boyd. “He had talked with me, with considerable angst, about leaving the idea of teaching behind. I said, take the opportunity, follow your dream. You can come back to complete your certification and teach whenever you want.”
For Romero, who begins training with Wonderbound on August 2, following the dream is a bigger step. As an athletic 13-year-old who joined a hip-hop dance class at a Vineland, New Jersey studio, “dance was a new challenge for me to get better at something,” he recalls. “Then, at First State Ballet Theatre, I had a great seven years there. Now it’s taking me across the country. I’m not really sure where life is going to take me, but this is an interesting time.”
“It is a big success story for one of our graduates,” adds Dr. Boyd, “though not necessarily on the path toward teaching that we would expect. It’s a story about how goals change, how unexpected things come along, and how we meet challenges by being flexible and adapting to the situation.”