Teaching Tips

Dores André of San Francisco Ballet Shares What Motivates Her

Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy of SFB

In February, San Francisco Ballet principal Dores André will originate the 11th role of her 15-year professional career with Trey McIntyre's highly anticipated new work, The Big Hunger. The work is inspired by the big hunger/little hunger philosophies of the bushmen in the Kalahari desert. "Little hunger" represents the superficial desires we focus on during day-to-day life, while "big hunger" represents what remains beyond the little hunger. "It's about the deeper meaning we are all looking for in life," André says. "It's not about our careers or a new pair of shoes or any other robotic human want, it's about the search for something bigger than all of us."


The piece features 12 men and two women, with two male-female pas de deux and one male-male pas de deux, and is set to Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2. We talked with André about what it's like to be the leading lady for McIntyre. February 13–23, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco.

What excites her about this work "This piece makes your whole body hurt. I'm very sore every day, but it feels good to have a piece that is so physical. I love the challenge. It makes me want to take care of myself and be the strongest version of myself that I can be. If I'm not, I won't be able to get through it."

On originating a role "It's a partnership between choreographer and dancer. I'm the junior partner, but both parties are working together for a common goal. Trey is quite clear about what he wants, but because I'm the first to do the role, I get to put my own stamp on things. I'm the color palette the choreographer is painting with, and it's a privilege."

Working with Trey McIntyre "He has me make choices with my movement that I wouldn't necessarily have made on my own. Because I trust and respect him, I've been able to learn a lot about myself as both an individual and a dancer."

What gets her to rehearsal each day "There are people in life who you get along with more than others, and that's dancers for me. There is an openness about us that I think we sometimes take for granted. We don't realize that not everyone in the world is so open about their feelings and their bodies. Not everyone has a passion for movement and music and exercise. It's hard not to love to come to work."


Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.