Alexander Pham in Uri Sands' With Love. Michael Slobodian, Courtesy TU Dance

This Pro Dancer Brings His HR Expertise Into the Studio

Alexander Pham's movements seem to have no noticeable beginning or end. Though he's a fluid, silky performer, his electrifying dancing also exhibits impressive power. These qualities have made audiences and artistic directors alike take notice in his three years with Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Theater and now at TU Dance. Byrd finds Pham's ability to translate technical demand into artistic expression remarkable, saying, "He is a rare and marvelous combination of intelligence and kinetic acumen."

Age: 26

Company: TU Dance

Hometown: Rosemount, Minnesota

Training and academic chops: University of Minnesota Twin Cities, BFA in dance and BS in human resource development

Alexander Pham in Uri Sands' With Love.

Michael Slobodian, Courtesy TU Dance

Special moment: Pham's solo Re: Repetition was selected in 2016 for the Seattle-area CHOP SHOP dance festival. The intimate choreography touches on ideas of self-doubt.

Two degrees, two jobs: His human resource development degree helped Pham land a double role in his last two seasons with Spectrum Dance Theater: Besides being a dancer, he also worked as the company's marketing and media associate. "Human resources is all about uncovering and utilizing potential—and being proactively keen about the needs and gaps among individuals and groups," he says. "That's also what I bring into the studio—knowing how to fill in the gaps supportively, energetically."

More than a contract:
Pham chooses carefully where he dances, noting his identity as a first-generation Asian-American gay man. "I want to dance for a company or work with choreographers that empower people of color and/or with marginalized identities, and use their presence to have dialogue, to educate and to inform," he says.

What Toni Pierce-Sands is saying: "Alex's quality of movement is simultaneously robust and subtle, and all from his heart," says the TU Dance co-artistic director. "He is an extremely detailed thinker, a gift that allows him to learn work very quickly, capturing the integrity of layers upon layers of details."

Best advice: "Always know what fulfills you artistically, spiritually and physically," says Pham. "Life as a professional dancer is hard, but if you know why it matters to you and how it enriches your being, then it's worth it."

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Relegated to the last phases of COVID-19 reopening, many dance companies have hung on precariously through slashed ticket revenue, reduced government funding and slowed philanthropic giving.

"A heartbreaking reality is that some companies may not recover financially from this pandemic," says Nora Heiber, the Western executive at the American Guild of Musical Artists. Many large companies will survive by tightening their belts, but smaller groups, hardly with an abundant cash flow to begin with, may face closures, leaving their dancers afloat in a tenuous job market. We asked three experts, including a dancer who has been through a company closure, to weigh in on what to do when your job disappears.