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Week of November 8, 2010

Program adviser inspired by dance, students

Daniella Borum is inspired by many things — African-American history studies, advising students to help run programs including Poetry Slam, Michigan’s Best Dance Crew and Chicago Steppin’ dance contests in which she competes.

Her enthusiasm may be contagious. Consider her story about the inaugural Dance Crew competition that Borum, a program adviser for University Unions Arts & Programs, supervised last December.

Photo by Scott Soderberg, U-M Photo Services.

“We had over 400 students in attendance and eight dance teams. Teams were thinking about things they could do to stand out; some threw glitter and confetti. One group wanted to do back flips down the aisle,” says Borum, adding the students ultimately decided against that approach.

Borum is responsible for student programming and events within University Unions ranging from Poetry Slam and Dance Crew to Parent’s Weekend Dinner Theatre, the Business Etiquette Lunch and Women’s Forum. She advises students how to organize programs.

“Really, most of the programs on campus are student-driven and it is my responsibility to ensure students have access to the resources they need to have successful events. I would say the most important part of my job is the development of students working in my office as well as students I come in contact with,” she says.

“I have learned that there is a necessary balance that you must have when advising and supervising students. Arts & Programs students are not volunteers, so we definitely hold them to a higher level of accountability regarding their programming and events. I’ve found that students appreciate communication that is direct, honest and open.”

As a student in Detroit, Borum says she always had an interest in history. This was fueled by her introduction in ninth grade to “The Classic Slave Narratives,” edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. “I was hungry for knowledge — my family roots are from Mississippi and Alabama. I wasn’t getting the history in school.”

She attended U-M, earning a degree in 2006 in Afro American & African Studies and began working for University Unions Arts & Programs. A colleague soon introduced her to Chicago Stepping, a slower, sensual version of partner swing dancing.

“You get a feeling for the movement of the dance, you’re able to develop your own style,” Borum says. “It has been a great way to meet new people.”

She also was drawn to the dress style. “The men and women wear matching clothes. If a woman wore a pretty beaded yellow dress, her partner would wear a suit with yellow accents,” Borum says.

After a few months learning basics, Borum soon moved to an advanced skill level and began partnering with a dance instructor at competitions. “This summer I traveled to Cleveland, Dallas, New York, Chicago and I am planning to go to Vegas in a couple weeks,” says Borum, who’s also traveled to teach workshops.

Borum’s interests also include singing; she has performed R&B and jazz at open stage sessions at the Ark on Main Street. “Music just keeps me grounded. My dad is a singer and I’ve just always had music present in my life, from him to the radio and tons of records available for me to play.”

Her goal is to return to graduate school and pursue a doctorate in African-American studies. “I do want to teach,” she says.

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at



Daniella Borum, program adviser, University Unions Arts & Programs, on the importance of her job: “Most of the programs on campus are student-driven and it is my responsibility to ensure students have access to the resources they need to have successful events.”


“Omaha Beach to the River Elbe: A Son Retraces His Father’s WWII Footsteps 66 Years Later,” Joe DeMatio, 7-8:30 p.m. Nov. 16, Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery.

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