Dancers Life

The Magical Doriana Sanchez

   Left:  Doriana and Cher    Right: Doriana on the film  Dirty Dancing                                                                                                                                                  

   Left:  Doriana and Cher    Right: Doriana on the film Dirty Dancing                                                                                                                                               

Doriana Sanchez is an Emmy and two-time American Choreography Award nominated Choreographer and Director, and a World Choreography Award recipient for Concert Choreography for the "Cher D2K" TourHer love of Dance and Movement has allowed her to create in all areas of stage and media, and her productions have been seen in nearly every large scale arena in the US and abroad.  Ryan Seacrest on E News! has called her “The Dancing Queen”, as Doriana is the force behind the high-energy disco routines on So You Think You Can Dance.

As a long time collaborator with Pop Icon Cher, Doriana has Created, Directed and Choreographed the superstars extravaganza performances, including the "Living Proof" and "Dressed To Kill" World Tours and "Cher at the Colosseum", the three year, 200-plus sold out performances run at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I've had the privilege and honor to work with Doriana on Cher's Believe World Tour and have not only been inspired by her beautiful creations, but also by her magical spirit that infuses love, positivity and joy to the creative process.   

She has made dances for music legends including Shakira, Peter Gabriel and Jane’s Addiction, and is one of the principal dancers in the iconic film Dirty Dancing. Some of her TV credits include The Grammy Awards, The American Music Awards, Dancing With the Stars and The Voice. A true master in our dance community, Doriana brings passion and light to all she touches.  

So happy she agreed to my interview.  Enjoy!

TNH: What do you love about dance?

DS: I Love everything about dance:) It is the most alive you can feel, when you are dancing. It is your true essence and expression of spirit flowing through you, your highest and most pure self. I become happy thinking about it, watching it, and doing it :)

TNH: What first drew you to dance and then to choreography?

DS: I grew up in a dancing family. My Father was a ballroom dancer and OG mambo king:) He had an act with his sister, and they performed all over. So dance was something that was always present in and around our family. My Fathers motto was "Don't let the music go by and not dance to it."

I started very young in musical theatre, and serious training when I was 12. We are from a very small town, and so to see shows and concerts, we had to travel to the bigger cities. My parents were always super supportive, and took us to see Ballet, Jose Greco ( Flamenco), Ringling Brothers Circus, and Ice Capades. Those shows were mind expanding to us. Really bigger than life, so beautiful, and  to see all the beautiful artists, definitely imprinted me with a passion to want to do that... little did I know I would:)

I was around choreography when my Father would do his shows, but it was when I was in LA and working as a dancer, I knew choreography was a natural next step for me. I worked as an associate choreographer to Kenny Ortega for many years, and loved the process, so I started to create my own style, and how movement felt for me. From there it has evolved to Directing and Producing as well.

TNH: What is the biggest challenge you’ve confronted in life and what did it teach you about yourself?

DS: Ahhhh... life always brings you these amazing challenges for your growth, but I did have a very interesting one. 5 years ago , when we were doing Cher's show at Caesars Colosseum in Vegas, I fell on a set piece during the show. It was very weird since I am not someone who falls. I hurt my hip, and was having physical therapy and chiropractic treatments daily. It got so bad that I became paralyzed on my left side. I then had some major seizures. It was discovered that I had a massive brain tumor. I had 19 hours of surgery at UCLA, and many months of rehab.

What it taught me about myself is that I am a very strong person and I am surrounded by love. So many people did so much for me during that time, I am eternally grateful. I truly feel that my healing miracle happened because of my dance, and my desire to walk and dance again was so strong, and everyday I kept doing things to support my healing. Like 1 sided yoga, because I could only move one side. Dancers are very determined, and we understand what our bodies want to do, so even when I couldn't do it, I tried my best.

TNH: What qualities do you most admire in dancers?

DS: That they allow themselves to be free and fully feel and express themselves. They are so fun, and feel emotions so deeply. Many dancers are very disciplined in their art. I find that very admirable that they are always going to class to stay great, and become better all the time. I remember always going from one class to the next, because I wanted to soak up alI the movement I could, and learn as much as I could from all the great teachers at that time.

I love how they can express so many emotions and colors through their movement,  each one different, and perfectly beautiful.

TNH: There can be ups and downs and rejection in the entertainment business.  What tools have you developed to keep your confidence and belief in yourself?

DS: Yes our business can be very interesting:) It certainly can be the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, if you allow it to be. For me, I must keep very centered when working. I have my meditation and prayer practice that I do daily, sometimes many times a day if necessary. It keeps me centered and able to be calm in the swirl of things. I also know who I am, and my years in this business have shown me so many different things and so many different types of creation. I do feel it is most important to be respectful to everyone you work with, and that means every single person involved in the project you are working on. In the sometimes chaos of a situation, your energy is what you can carry into the room.

I do really want to say this to the young dancers coming up.... When choreographers are looking to cast a certain type, and you aren't it, and you are the best person in the room on that day, and you really deserve to get that job, and you totally kicked ass, and you get cut... Don't take it personally... Please...  Because sometimes Choreographers and Directors minds can be changed, so be the one to change their minds. Be your best every audition you go to, and keep going, because eventually you will get seen and hired... and  you never know what other project they have coming up, or can recommend you for. 

TNH: What do you look for when casting dancers?

DS: I love looking at a room full of excited dancers. It makes me so happy! What I do first is a room scan, I look for energy that pops out. You can kind of tell who has the sparkly energy. Who connects with me, those who smile and look me in the eyes. Those are the people I am going to resonate with first. I want to look for people that will fit in and help create a wonderful team. Dance ability is important, but it is almost more important to be a great person:)

TNH: What advice would you give a young performer with big dreams?

DS: If you have big dreams, create them for yourself, go for it. Do what it is you want to create. If you want to be an amazing dancer on TV and tours, find out who is doing those shows, take classes with them if they teach. Learn new styles of dance. For me being a next level dancer is important, learn aerial work, learn how to tumble, keep adding new skills. It makes you very valuable to have those skill sets.

Most important of all, is be yourself. Be who YOU are and don't try to compare or compete with anyone else. You are very important and special, and who you are now, and who you will be in your future life is so incredible! Be Kind, Be Respectful, Be Grateful that this is the job and career that you have chosen to do, because it is a blessing to be able to move freely in your body.

TNH: Who/what have been the biggest creative influences in your life?

DS: I do have a few that I super love:) Cirque du Soleil I have seen since they first started, always brilliant. The Masters: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, to see the work now is incredible. Watch West Side Story to see the perfect masterpiece of dance on film. Oprah, Cher, because girl power and reinvention rules:) Tony Duquette and Antonio Gaudi visionary artists and creative genius.

TNH: Thank you, my beautiful friend, for your sparkly heart and soul, and for sharing your gifts. I love you. xo

DS: I love you too!!

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"Believe in yourself and others will follow." The Wisdom of Dancer/Teacher Scott Fowler

Scott Fowler is easy to love and is loved by many!! I’ve had the privilege and honor to have worked alongside him as a dancer on many projects and as a choreographer and creative being.  

His work as a dancer spans from the stage to the screen in six BROADWAY shows, national tours, a three year run with CHER in Las Vegas, to numerous Feature Films including the Oscar winning film CHICAGO and countless Television appearances.  The list is endless, and so is his passion and love for dance!  

Scott danced early in his career with the NEW YORK CITY BALLET and the BOSTON BALLET and shares his knowledge, passion and expertise with our younger generation of performers around the country.  What lucky dancers to receive his gifts!!   

I am so grateful to be inspired by my friend, and very happy he joined me for my Choreographer Interview Series.  Please enjoy the insight and gifts of Scott Fowler.

TNH:  How did dance influence your life as a young person?

SF:  Dance and the dance studio was my refuge, a place I could go where I was accepted and felt safe. It was my playground and learning space where I could explore, be creative, express myself and be with like-minded people. It was my reality, my fantasy, my DREAM and eventually my career and lifelong PASSION.

TNH:  What do you love about dance?

SF:  I love the dedication it takes, the friendships you make, the children you can INSPIRE.  The freedom it gives my body and the life it has provided for me. It hugely defines who I am.  It has been my life since the age of 4 and I was taught by my Uncle Bill Fowler, so it's a family affair. I, in turn, am passing it on to my 12 year old niece Julia. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT DANCE.  The art form, the discipline, the people, the fun, the creativity......the LIFE!!!!

TNH:  You’ve had such a prolific, amazing and diverse career.  What advice would you give to a young dancer/performer who’s just starting out with big dreams?

SF:  Dream BIG and continuously. Be kind and have courage. Be open and versatile. Say yes to everything, yet honor your body and soul and be WILLING to stand up for yourself and say no when your intuition tells you so. The dance community is small.  Your REPUTATION is everything. Live your life with INTEGRITY.  Fasten your seatbelt and ENJOY the ride!!!

TNH:  The entertainment business can have lots of ups and downs and rejection.  How have you stayed confident and self-accepting throughout your career?

SF:  These are a few things I say to myself in regards to show business and the audition process...

  • Suit up, show up and stay out of the results. 
  • What people think of me is none of my business.
  • I'm powerless over people, place and things. 
  • Do your BEST.  Say "THANK YOU" and leave with a smile and your head held high.
  • One person can't be right for everything but completely right for some things.
  • Believe in yourself and others will follow.
  • Acceptance is the answer.
  • Everything that happens in my life, happens for my benefit! 

TNH:  What principles do you bring to your teaching and mentoring?

SF:  To inspire…

  • To pay It forward.
  • To have integrity.
  • To be kind.
  • To respect the art of dance and the dancers who came before you.
  • To work hard, have dedication, self respect and be disciplined. 
  • To be of service and share the art.
  • To tell the truth and go out of your way to nurture the potential.
  • To have FUN and feel safe to explore and take chances.
  • That we are the lucky ones and to be GRATEFUL.
  • To cherish the dance studio and the MAGIC that happens inside its walls.
  • That your EGO is not your AMIGO.

TNH:  Who and what inspires you to be creative and do the work that you do?

SF:  My Uncle Bill Fowler who is my mentor, teacher and inspiration to this day. He owned a school in Medford, Massachusetts for over 40 years and has touched the lives of countless dancers throughout the country and world, and at 75 years old, continues to do so. The children and the passion and desire I see in their eyes when I teach them inspires me. My fellow dancers and the commitment and drive I share with them to just keep it moving and working. My 12 year old niece Julia who has "it" and LOVES to dance... the joy I feel working and dancing with her is limitless. My 93 year old neighbor Barbara Perry who is a dancer and has lived a life and had a career that is BEAUTIFUL. The countless "gypsies" I'm friends with who completely give themselves to this life because it's in our blood and we HAVE TO DANCE!

TNH:  Can you share a career highlight?

SF:  There have been SO many highlights.  What a journey it has been and continues to be!

I'd have to say the opening of my first Broadway show JEROME  ROBBINS BROADWAY was an amazing and magical experience. Curtain up, cast walks downstage to a 5 minute standing ovation before the show even starts... first time on Broadway..........AMAZING.

The film version of CHICAGO.  Hands down one of the best experiences of my life and a film that will stand the test of time. What an absolute JOY to be a part of. Director/Choreographer Rob Marshall and John Deluca created a masterpiece and it won the OSCAR for best picture.

My last Broadway show MOVIN OUT.  It was life imitating art or art imitating life but like the show, I found redemption and not only survived but prospered in SO many ways. It was the best of times and the worst of times, but I'm a better man because of it so for that it's a highlight.

TNH:  Do you have any other thoughts and insight to share?

SF:  We are a SPECIAL kind of people.  Sensitive, determined, driven, passionate, insecure, confident, colorful, generous, independent, neurotic, free and loving....we are DANCERS!!!! Embrace ALL of what we are and be OPEN, WILLING and most importantly KIND to each other. I'm SO GRATEFUL that I've been given this DANCERS LIFE to LIVE.  Thanks to my Uncle Bill and my mom who drove me everywhere and was and is my biggest supporter!!!!!

TNH:  I love you, Scott!  Your words bring tears to my eyes and remind me of the soul and fabric of a dancer and a dancer’s life.  Yes, a gift for sure.

Thank you to those who have visited this page.  For more inspiring Dance and Choreographer Interviews, subscribe to my Newsletter below!  And share with those who might be inspired by this.  Let's Dance! 

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