Danielle La Senna was born and raised in Tenafly, N.J. She attended Indiana University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in voice performance, and went on to Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she received a master’s in arts in education. Before coming to Juilliard, she worked at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University as a program manager for academic affairs, assisting the senior associate dean with curricula, faculty workload, statistical reporting, and events planning.
How long have you worked at Juilliard, and what do you remember about your first day?
I have been at Juilliard for a year and a half. My first day of work happened to be the first day of a weeklong workshop in the Evening Division. It was also my first day commuting from Nyack (where I had just moved to the day before). I was 45 minutes late (having spent 2½ hours on the bus).
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
Piano technician. I am fascinated with the workshop, seeing all the keyboards deconstructed.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
I was a temp at a testing agency, opening envelopes of applications for the pharmacist’s exam. While it was a monotonous job, it was entertaining (and scary!)—many aspiring pharmacists did not know how to fill out the form correctly, had horrendous spelling, and one person even mailed in his No. 2 pencil along with his application. It made me wonder about the people who are licensed to distribute controlled substances!
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Depends on the time of year. In the summer I would go to the beach, in the fall and spring I would go on a hike in the woods, and in the winter I would go to a museum. At the end of the day I would cook a big meal.
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists. How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
Unfortunately I have not performed in a few years. Going to graduate school, moving, recently buying a house, and soon having a baby have made it difficult for me to pursue singing. I am also a visual artist, and most of my supplies are still packed away. I guess I’m not doing such a good job at balancing! I hope to find time at some point to either join a chorus, get together with fellow musicians to just play around, or take out my paints. In the meantime, I have pursued some crafts—my husband and I make soap (which we sell at farmer’s markets), and I recently learned to knit. But I still miss singing on a regular basis.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
Politics, agriculture and food, arts and education.
What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
My honeymoon. My husband, Allen, and I spent a month traveling from Rome to Paris, adventuring and exploring. We hope someday to make it to Asia, particularly India (for the food and music!).
What book are you reading right now, or what CD are you listening to … and what can you tell us about it?
I am listening to a new CD, The Fall, by my friend Kristen Toedtman. She is a multi-instrumentalist and a composer/arranger, but was classically trained in voice at Indiana University and the Peabody Institute. The CD is pop/rock/soul in style, all her own compositions. I am reading What to Expect the First Year, as my baby is due in three months!
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I have a tattoo on my back (of two fish) that I designed.