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."