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Spotlight: The Worst Advice SFB's Sarah Van Patten Ever Received

Van Patten in Romeo and Juliet. PC Erik Tomasson.

When we put San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten on our cover in 2013, we couldn't stop gushing about how deeply she dives into every character she portrays. Since then, her characterizations have only grown, and she's taken on a new role—as a ballerina mom. We caught up with Van Patten for our "Spotlight" series:


What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?
Most people ask me if I have a restricted diet. I remember this was my husband's impression before our first date. He was very surprised to see that I ordered a steak, had a glass of wine and still joined him to share a dessert.

What other career would you like to try?
I'm a mom so I already have a second full-time job! I haven't decided exactly what I might do once I retire, but I have done some outreach in the past that I really enjoyed. I've taught dance in South Africa, organized a fundraiser for Children of Uganda and for the past 12 years organized Nutcracker hospital visits.

What's the most-played song on your phone?
Probably the soundtrack from Moana for my son. It's seriously good music!

What's your favorite book?
My favorite author is Haruki Murakami. I've read all his books.

Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
I have a toddler, so I'm at home eating dinner, taking a hot bath and winding down before going to bed.


Where did you last vacation?
North Port, Michigan with my family.

What app do you spend the most time on?
Daniel Tiger's Day & Night is a big one on our list—it's a fun app for toddlers. I also check the news, listen to music on Spotify and watch Netflix shows if I need to work out on the elliptical.

Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
Choreographers who I'd love to work with are Crystal Pite and Jiří Kylián, and I would be thrilled to perform a role from John Neumeier's Lady of the Camellias or Kenneth MacMillan's Manon.

What's the first item on your bucket list?
Travel experiences. I've always wanted to go to Japan or do an African safari trip. Once my son is a little older I'll get out and see the world.

What's your go-to crosstraining routine?
Gyrotonic all day, every day.

What's the worst advice you've ever received?
That I'll never be able to do something or that a specific role isn't for me. Anything that makes me feel limited.

If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
When I danced Juliet in front the Queen of Denmark, which was also my debut in the role. Looking back, I didn't realize how special that moment was.

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