An Interview with <br> Patricia Zhou
Borgo Women

An Interview with
Patricia Zhou


Meet Patricia Zhou, a classical dancer renowned for her graceful performances and captivating stage presence. We caught up with Patricia to talk about the synergy between dance and fashion, sharing her insights on how her art influences her sartorial choices and how luxury fashion complements her life both on and off the stage.

Can you tell us about your journey into dance and where and when it started?
Yes! I actually started dancing because my parents didn’t want my sister and I to watch TV at home after school, so they sent us to take dance lessons at the local recreation centre in Michigan. We learned everything; tap, jazz, lyrical, ballet, and even acro! My sister, who is older, took to it immediately and was such a hard worker. Me, on the other hand… I was kind of just there to see my friends and didn’t try very hard. After a few years though, one of the teachers discovered my talent and started pushing me to do more and put me on the competition team, which meant travelling to other states and competing in these huge dance conventions. Most of the time I would win prizes and awards even though I never really tried or practised. 

After a couple years of that, my mom decided that I was spending too much time dancing and needed to focus on my studies, as my parents wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer – like in most Chinese families. She sent me to these super intense private ballet lessons whilst I was in China visiting family at the Beijing Dance Academy, hoping that the strict teachers there would make me not want to dance anymore. But on the contrary – the discipline and beauty of learning professional classical ballet for the first time made me fall in love with it, and just like that my whole person changed. After that I became super dedicated and was determined to audition for a full time ballet school and study ballet professionally. At the time, I was already almost 13 years old, which made me quite behind my peers who had been seriously studying ballet since they were 8 or 9.

Fortunately, I was accepted to attend the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C. on a full-time scholarship, and after quite a lot of convincing, my parents allowed me to attend, with the agreement that I would also have to have a perfect 4.0 GPA of course.

So off I went to ballet boarding school, and the rest is history!

How have your personal experiences helped inspire your performances?
Of course! I believe that dancers are always expressing themselves through their movement, so in many ways, everything I experience, see and feel comes out during performances. For me the true mark of a movement artist is someone who is able to execute the steps whilst also bringing their own element of humanity and humility to the work. You should be able to see the person shine within the work, not be consumed by the work.

How does your classical dance background influence your fashion choices?
Getting to wear beautiful costumes that help me get into character has always been one of my favourite parts of performing. In that way I think my fashion choices are very influenced by how I’m feeling at the time, what the setting is, and who I want to portray.

Who are your fashion icons, and how have they influenced your style?
Probably my mom! She is a business woman, so her style choices are definitely different from mine, but she always looks so put together, and she always, I mean always wears heels. Where she prefers a sharp tailored suit and only wears 2 colours per outfit (or 3 maximum), I’ve always preferred an oversized baggy suit or frilly dress and loads of colour. But one thing we can agree on –  she always says, “it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed” and I think that’s the one piece of fashion advice that never goes out of style.

In what ways does being on stage empower you as a woman?
Being on stage is where I feel most comfortable to demand attention and own a space. It’s taught me a lot about holding myself in the same way off stage, but it’s still definitely a work in progress for me as I’m naturally more of a shy and reserved person. 

​​How do you balance comfort and elegance in your dance costumes?
Unfortunately I don’t get to choose the costumes that I wear, so most of the time it’s about adjusting and adapting to the costumes I’m wearing and getting used to dancing in them – even if they’re not the most comfortable.

How do you keep your wardrobe versatile to suit both your dance rehearsals and social events?
I try to keep my dancewear and everyday wear quite streamlined, so most things are neutral tones. I often opt for white or black as it’s easier to mix and match. It’s a blessing to be able to throw an oversized blazer over a unitard and dress it up with heels, or colourful sneakers for a meeting and then be able to pop into rehearsal or ballet class afterwards.

Events-wise I love to wear something fun or colourful and I keep a handful of rotating pieces on hand for those occasions. Renting and loaning pieces is also a lifesaver these days, as it’s much more sustainable and, to be honest, my closet is not big enough to own and store as many pieces as I’d like. 

Can you share a memorable moment or achievement in your career that made you feel powerful?
When I finished editing my dance film “Orange Tree” I just cried and cried. I was so overwhelmed by the feeling of being able to create my own film from start to finish. Something I’d never imagined having the confidence or skills to do. As a dancer, I was always content with performing and interpreting other people’s work and never would have dreamed of creating my own choreography. We aren’t encouraged to do that as female dancers, so it never even felt like a possibility.

I decided during COVID to start making my own work. It felt like the perfect time to do so. Without everyone’s eyes on me, I could explore from the safety of my own bubble. But I never knew I’d feel so passionate about telling my own stories through choreography and dance films. Or that they would go on to be shown all across the world and win so many awards at film festivals. It was truly incredible and so fulfilling!

How do you define strength and feminine power in your personal and professional life?
To me strength and feminine power is kindness, humility and generosity. I try to apply these principles in my personal, and my professional life especially. I’ve dealt with so many situations at work where others were leading and didn’t handle things well, didn’t communicate, and thus created a stressful and emotionally-fraught environment. It’s my hope that I can cultivate more welcoming, nurturing and open spaces for dancers like myself and of the next generation, through leading like a woman. Using my intuition, compassion and gentleness to guide.

How do you think the Performing Arts industry can do better in promoting female empowerment?
In literally every and any way possible. But if I had to start somewhere, I would start with encouraging more women to pursue the leadership and creative roles that are often given to men from a younger age. I’m not saying that all the men are doing bad jobs, but I would love to see more women changing the industry and making their mark. 

How do you express your creativity outside of your work?
I adore expressing myself with cooking! I’ve always loved making (and eating) delicious food, so when I have the time, trying out a new recipe is my go-to past time. I also really enjoy anything that involves crafting or creating with my hands, like knitting, ceramics, gardening etc. but sadly I don’t have much free time to do that at the moment.

How does your personal style reflect your own individuality?
If I could describe my style, I would say it’s classic elegance mixed with fun, colour and a bit of playful extravagance. I think that could very much describe me as a person as well… I am certainly swayed by trends, but I do try to stay loyal to my own style and wear what makes me feel beautiful. Even if it’s maybe not the most “in-style” look for the time.

In what ways do you think fashion and dance intersect?
In my opinion, I think fashion and dance meet in many ways; but mostly in the way that both are artistic expressions. In the same way you can surmise something about the wearer of a piece through their fashion choices, you can tell a lot about a dancer through their movements. 

What do you love most about Borgo de Nor’s design aesthetic and how do you think Borgo de Nor embodies feminine power?
I love that Borgo de Nor is so unapologetically authentic to itself. The patterns and silhouettes are so unique and in your face. The collections are not shy or paired back. Which I absolutely adore. I think it embodies feminine power in exactly that way. It encourages the wearer to take space, be confident, and not be apologetic. When you walk into the room, it’s like BAM! Here I am!

What is your favourite piece from our collection?
The Tatiana Crepe Maxi Dress is such a vibe! It’s such a flattering cut and the “Flower Pop Orange” print is so fun and wearable. 

How would you describe the feeling you get from Borgo de Nor in three words?
Joy, freedom, elegance



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