Dores André. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy San Francisco Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet Principal Dores André Is a Daily Swimmer Off-Season

At the pool: Dores André has been swimming longer than she's been dancing. Even today, it's the San Francisco Ballet principal's preferred workout. "I go if I'm not too busy during the season and I feel like I need to get my stamina up," she says. "It's a routine and a meditation. Just being in the water helps me." Some days she wakes up early for a 6:30 am gentle swim before company class.

Knowing when to push: She's careful not to exert too much energy before a long day of work, and she adopts an easy pace, given her naturally muscular physique. "I try not to swim too fast because I don't want my shoulders to become concave," she says, noting the muscular, hunched posture some swimmers develop. In the off-season, though, she ramps up the intensity. André swims 45 minutes to an hour five times a week with her sister, who's a competitive open-water swimmer.


Andr\u00e9, in a gold bodysuit, leaps across the stage.

Dores André in Arthur Pita's Björk Ballet

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB


How she stays injury-free: André loves Gyrotonic. She credits it for helping her find an inner strength and learn how to control her flexibility without muscling movements. "Knock on wood, I've never been injured, and I think partially it is because of Gyro," she says.

Ballet around town: She supplements her off-season swimming with ballet classes at LINES Dance Center and ODC nearby. "Sandra Chinn is amazing," she says of the ODC master teacher. "It's also nice to be around other dancers in the Bay Area. It's a way to be part of the community."

Dores André in Christopher Wheeldon's Bound To

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

Learning to tap: André grew up in Spain, where tap isn't a typical part of children's dance training like in the U.S. "I'd always wanted to learn," she says. When she saw Michelle Dorrance perform, along with Instagram clips of Dorrance collaborating with Justin Peck for the Vail Dance Festival, it sealed the deal. In 2018, she bought a pair of tap shoes and joined a class with 6- to 8-year-olds. "I'm extremely bad at it! But I love it."

Recovery Strategy

When SFB is in season, André resets with this routine:

  • Compression tights: She changes into them before heading home, keeping them on for an hour. "The last thing I really want to do is stretch, sadly," she says, so compression is her next best line of defense. "I want to have a normal life!"
  • Hot bath: André soaks in the tub to relax.
  • Magnesium: If her muscles are feeling extra achy, she takes a magnesium supplement to help with cramping.

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