San Francisco Ballet principal Dores André's flair for onstage drama and powerful, picture-perfect technique have solidified her as a company standout. She joined the company in 2004 as a corps member, was promoted to soloist in 2012, and in 2015 was awarded the title of principal dancer. Born in Vigo, Spain, André started studying ballet at age 9 before moving across the country to train seriously at the Estudio de Danza Maria de Avila in Zaragoza at age 13. Later, she headed to the States to audition for SFB and was offered a contract. Catch her dancing this month with the company. —Courtney Bowers
To my past self,
Hey, kid! How are you? I'm not an expert by any means, but I feel like I have some things to say.
First of all, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. If something bad happens, then it's a funny story you can tell later. Your favorite moments onstage will be the times you took a risk. They'll be the most special or the most disastrous, but either way, those will be your greatest moments, and those performances will be the reason you love what you do.
Give credit and take responsibility. You're going to meet the most incredible teachers, co-workers, and students. You'll learn a great deal from them, so give them the recognition they deserve. When things go wrong, don't blame others—take charge and become better.
André at age 12 (courtesy André)
Yes, you should stand up for yourself (and others)—you're good at that—but know there are many battles, and you won't win them all. Sometimes you just have to do your best and wait. It's not fair, I know, but that's how it is. Make the best of it.
If you don't understand something, ask. Not knowing isn't a negative thing and it won't make you look bad. The opposite is true. Your curiosity will become your biggest asset. Never stop learning, ever.
Don't be too hard on yourself. Trust me, you're fine. Just keep working. Worst-case scenario, you'll learn a lot of amazing things that you can apply everywhere else in life.
And lastly, please stop dyeing your hair. It'll take years to look decent.
A version of this story appeared in the February 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter To My Teenage Self: Dores André."