Reverence: Poise And Persistence

San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten brings focus and musicality to her roles.
Published in the February/March 2012 issue.

A lush, lyrical Juliet. Photo by Erik Tomasson.

Is there anything you would change about yourself as a dancer?
Sometimes I get hung up on certain steps or phrases. When you have a moment that doesn’t go well, it’s hard to let that go and continue as if it didn’t affect you.

Do you ever suffer from stage fright?
 I do when I have to deal with heights. In Swan Lake, I run all the way up this giant rock and jump off the top, which is terrifying for me. It’s a stunning ending, but my goodness!

How far along are you in the LEAP program at St. Mary’s College?
I’m very close to graduating. I really enjoy the management and business classes and might move on to business school. Recently I helped organize a fundraiser for the Children of Uganda, and found that to be fascinating.

Do you have any pointe shoe quirks?
I rosin my foot, because I don’t like to move in the shoe. I want it really tight, so it’s almost like my foot and the shoe are one.

You’ve done several music video projects, right?
My friend Sean Hayes is a local musician, though his music is all over now—it’s actually in one of the Subaru commercials. I’ve been in two of his music videos, including “When We Fall In,” which is on YouTube. He’s a sweetheart and I really love his music.  

Who inspires you as a dancer?
I’ve always admired Wendy Whelan. I took a class with her in New York once when I was 11 years old and I was terrified. She was so kind and sweet and generous. What I admire is not only that someone is phenomenal as a dancer or artist, but that they’re a really good person, too.

What is your favorite way to spend time outside of dance?
Relaxing with my friends and my boyfriend. I enjoy football, so I watch the games on Sunday. Also, though this might sound odd, I really enjoy cleaning! I’m a big organizer. It’s very meditative for me.