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Perfect Pitch: Seth Orza

Founder, Dancer

Seth Orza

Current City: Seattle

Current Job and Entrepreneurial Focus:

I am currently the CEO and founder of ORZA, a company that designed, built, and launched the first-ever patented, shock-absorbing ballet shoes, the Orza Pro One. Our ballet shoes have shock-absorbing materials built into the design without changing the look or aesthetics that dancers expect from their shoes. I started this venture in 2010 because I needed a solution for my own problem with dance slippers. I suffered from severe Planters Fasciitis, an injury that sidelined me during my New York City Ballet (NYCB) days (2005). After trying several treatments, my doctor suggested I find padding to place inside the heel of my ballet slippers to provide lift and support. I ended up using drugstore-bought heel cups (designed for runners) that I inserted inside my ballet slippers. This alleviated my pain and got me back on stage.

In 2010, the company that sold these runner’s cups discontinued the product. I was back to square one until my physical therapist at Pacific Northwest Ballet suggested that I try to make my own shoe. That was a lightbulb moment for me. Since then, I have worked tirelessly to develop our flagship shoe, raise capital, and build out my team.

Orza officially hit the market in June of 2023, and the Orza Pro One is already making a huge impact on the dance industry. For me, it's about making a difference for dancers and supporting their health and well-being.

Notable Prior Jobs:

I have had the privilege of being a dancer for both the New York City Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet. I began my professional career with the New York City Ballet at the age of 17 and danced with the company for eight years, rising through the ranks to become a soloist. It was an incredible experience to be a part of one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world.

In 2008, I made the decision to leave New York City Ballet and join Pacific Northwest Ballet, where I had a 14-year career as a dancer, achieving the highest rank of principal dancer. During my time at PNB, I had the privilege of working with many of today's preeminent choreographers, including Twyla Tharpe, Susan Stroman, David Dawson, Alexi Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, and William Forsythe.

When I Started Performing: I started performing when I was quite young, around 5 or 6 years old. My family has a strong background in dance (both my parents were ballet dancers), and all 5 of my siblings trained in ballet. Being part of the dance community was all I knew growing up! You could say that I was born a dancer.

Performing Arts Background: My background in performing arts is primarily ballet. I started my training at a dance studio called Dancers Stage in San Francisco, which was geared towards recreational adult dancers and professionals. My mom and dad, twin brother, older sisters, and I would all take classes alongside dancers at San Francisco Ballet and other dance companies who were touring. I remember being in awe of the talented dancers and how fun it was to try to keep up with them.

After that, I attended City Ballet (also in San Francisco) and then Marin Ballet for a few years before finally landing at the San Francisco Ballet School. It was there that I was able to refine my skills and grow into the dance student I wanted to be. In 1997, I left home to attend the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City. SAB is the feeder school to NYCB, and I knew that I wanted to make a career for myself there and learn the Balanchine style of dance. I learned how to move quickly and how to partner with a woman in a way that looked effortless.

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was to have had many teachers, mentors, and supporters who believed in me and helped me get to where I am today.

How did your performing arts background supercharge your entrepreneurship?

I absolutely believe my background as a professional ballet dancer supercharged me for what I’m doing now. It taught me work ethic, discipline, consistency, confidence, and to never be afraid to chase your dreams. I found something inside myself that turned on during my training years as a dancer, a fire within that, to this day, keeps pushing me to new heights and through the challenges that come with owning a business.

Favorite Performer: One of my all-time favorite ballet dancers is Mikhail Baryshnikov. I used to watch his videos repeatedly after class and try to replicate his style, turns, and jumps. His artistry is untouched. To this day, he remains one of the best. I'm obsessed with a band called Muse. I can't stop talking about them and listening to their music while I work, work out, or do anything else. Whenever I'm in my truck, I have Muse blasting, and I jam out while running errands. Matt Bellamy from Muse is one of my all-time favorite rock performers.

Follow this Performer:

Facebook – sethorza

Instagram – @sethorza

Seth Orza Performing

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