Live the present. Keep the past in the past. Be inspired by the future. — getting pulled by the past only drags your present. Anticipating and trying to control the future does not let you enjoy the moment. So, just breath deeply and enjoy the present. It is the only thing there is.

As a part of our series about creating a successful career in theatre, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Debora Balardini.

Debora Balardini — (She, Her, Hers)

Debora Balardini is a performer, theatre director, educator, and integrative therapist specializing in body reading. She worked in Japan, Argentina, France, and Chile before making her home in New York City. Her extensive performance background spans ballet, modern dance, tap, and Choreographic Theatre from Pantheatre company (Paris-France), as well as Roy Hart’s extended range voice technique. She served as a director at large for the Board of the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) and is one of the founders and president of the board at Group Dot BR — NY’s only Brazilian theatre company. She is a recipient of the 2019 Social Impact and Innovation in Arts Award (Essence of a Boss conference) and received an official proclamation from the US National Council of Women in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council for her humanitarian work for the empowerment of women. Balardini is a Forty Over 40 honoree (Forbes 2018).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in the city of Curitiba in the State of Paraná, in Brazil. Middle class family. My mother was a stay at home mom and my dad was a bank manager. I have on older sister. I have always been attracted to the world of the arts especially dance and theatre. We grew up in a very simple household with just the minimum but normal. My mother was always very worried about our education so we were always part of good schools. For the most part I was happy all the time. I say the most part because there were some traumatization in my life that left very big scars but all in all I was a normal kid.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was about 6 years old, I was watching TV one morning in our house, and it was a very bad image so I could not really make up what I was seeing. BUT I remember at some point the image cleared a little and I saw a person walk and dance on an empty space. And I said to myself “I want to be in that empty space doing what that person is doing”. For some reason that stayed with me and as life continued I was always unconsciously leaning towards that “empty space” which I now know it was a theatre stage. When I was about 14 or 15 years old, I was already a dancer at that point (baller, tap, modern and jazz), and I came across a community theatre group. I enrolled myself into the program and, since then I did not let the theatre go. I think it was not never a very conscious decision because theatre also chose me. There is a balance in there between I want and what is meant for me to do. This is the way I express myself in this world. What brought me here was always the desire of letting my body/mind/spirit to express and be an instrument for the spiritual development of everyone that crosses my path.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My first angel was my sister who said “go! The time is now. Go to Japan and live all the adventures you could live.” After that I had many others who always crossed my path but the most significant ones were my two mentors, Enrique Pardo, also the director of my piece, and his wife Linda Wise. They are the artistic directors of Pantheatre Company in Paris. They were the ones who gave me the extra push 16 years ago to share my art and find my own voice. Along with them, there is my friend and business partner, Andressa Furletti, who supports my work and always makes sure I do my best on the stage.

You probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think my most interesting story is when I lived in Japan and while working in a cabaret I had an encounter with the Yakuzas (Japanese mafia). They came to the club and while we were getting ready for our performance, they singled me out and asked the manager of the establishment if I could sit at the table with them. After a while they stood up to leave and one of them grabbed me by the arm and started leading me to the elevator. The manager rushed behind us and pleaded asking them to leave me alone. They responded by pushing me out of the elevator. I rushed to join my fellow artists and the next day we were all out of a job. The club closed its doors. The owner of the establishment must’ve had some kind of deal with the Yakuza so, we were all out of a job and had to be transferred to another club to continue performing. Being a showgirl in Japan has taught me a lot about life and death. I guess that night in my encounter with the Yakuza kept me thinking that it was not my time to face death yet.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when starting my career was getting distracted with the performance on stage while waiting on the wings for my turn to enter. It was my first ballet piece on points and I was so mesmerized by my fellow dancers that I forgot about me. The lesson for me was take care of you first so the whole community can be safe. If I would’ve never forgotten about me and the part I played in the whole, the choreography could’ve been much better.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

At the moment I am doing my solo performance — Backlash to Brazilian Happiness at The Tank — and it has been an amazing experience. There was a lot of resistance on my part to share some details about my sexual abuse but I had so much support from my community that I was able to finish a short run and let out such an important and necessary piece. I am glad I did. I hope to be back with this piece in the near future.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of rejection, lack of support, or failure?

I would say find your place and you will find your voice. Once you know where you stand, what you believe in, and what you want to share with the world, you will be able to withstand any type of rejection or lack of support. Face the game as an adult who does not need the approval from anyone but yourself. There is no such a thing as failure. If you think you are a failure then it is because you are your only problem. No one else is a problem. Stop blaming the world for what you should take responsibility for. Your responsibility as a human being is to be useful, serve, and share your expression. When we get stuck in our own path, we end up being victims of ourselves.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the live performance industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Just do it. Don’t try it. Every attempt is doomed to failure. You either do it or you don’t. Keep taking care of your physical body, your mind and your soul. Only then you will be able to remove the obstacles with health, and a zen mind.

Thank you for all that. This is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in Broadway, Theater or Live Performances” and why? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

To create a highly successful career in live performance you will need:

  • Discipline — have a routine. Our brains need routine. Find what rocks your boat to create that routine.
  • Healthy mind and body — doing water, eat well, have at least 30 minutes of contemplation per day.
  • Focus — every thing you decide to pay attention to put your whole body and feelings in it. That is focus.
  • Have fun practicing your craft — there is no point in going in this career without having fun in every aspect.
  • Live the present. Keep the past in the past. Be inspired by the future. — getting pulled by the past only drags your present. Anticipating and trying to control the future does not let you enjoy the moment. So, just breath deeply and enjoy the present. It is the only thing there is.

For the benefit of our readers, could you describe how the skill-sets you need in a theater performance are different than the skill-sets you need for TV or Film?

In theatre performance there are no chances for endless takes. There are no attempts only the live moment in front of you and if you don’t jump into that live moment with all your focus, you are doomed. It is necessary to be very much in tune with your body, voice, and state of mind. Of course, TV and Film also require your whole body to be present BUT, you get chances to get there , where as in live performance, you either do it or you don’t.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be called “SynchronyQuest” suggesting the idea that by finding your place, you align yourself with the natural rhythm of your life, and in doing so, you discover your authentic voice.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You are responsible for absolutely everything that happens in your life. Period. When I realized that, I really became an adult, stopped blaming others for my lack of focus, and was able to take actions on things I could have control of. What I could not have control, I let the universe take its course and adapted my actions to the challenges and gifts of life. That is what I call living.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to have lunch with Meryl Streep because, besides being an inspiration to me with her centeredness and accurate worked craft, I think we will have a great laugh together. I like the way she smalls at life and I assume she has a great sense of humor,

How can our readers continue to follow your work online?

You can find me on my website or on social media at @deborabalardini. Also, through my company’s website at

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you for having me! You definitely made me think a bit deeper today. I really appreciate the ride!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.