How Dance Healed Doriana Sanchez

by Bridget Conrad | 7/11/2017 3:12 PM

Doriana Sanchez on

Source: Sundance TV

Many dance fans know Doriana Sanchez as the resident disco choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, but as I researched her career in more depth, I discovered how much of a true legend she is in the dance industry. She’s choreographed for TV, danced in Vegas, starred in Dirty Dancing, and created the staging for major music touring acts. As you can see, Sanchez has had many monumental moments in her life, but her biggest milestone was also her biggest challenge. In 2011, she discovered she had a brain tumor, and it was her desire to dance that was the real catalyst for her full recovery.

Sanchez began studying ballroom at 3-years-old from her father, and later trained in various other styles with Pat Jackson in San Luis Obispo, CA. In her adult life, she went on to perform in Vegas and star in many movies, including my personal favorite, Dirty Dancing. Next time you watch Dirty Dancing, note that Sanchez is one of the staff dancers wearing an iconic polka-dot dress. See Sanchez in the famous last scene of Dirty Dancing


A successful dancing career led to a very fruitful career as a choreographer for Sanchez. She’s choreographed for stars such as Shakira, Peter Gabriel, Jane’s Addiction, and created Cher’s Living Proof and Believe Tours. Her work was also featured on well-known shows such as Dancing with the StarsThe VoiceGood Morning AmericaThe Late Show with David Letterman, and, of course, So You Think You Can Dance. I would be remiss if I didn’t share one of her high-energy disco numbers from So You Think You Can Dance that made her a household name with a new generation of young dance fans. 

In the midst of her successful career though, Sanchez was thrown a curve ball while working on Cher ‘s 2011 tour. First, she slipped and fell on stage, which was very uncommon for her. Then she had a seizure at Cher’s house, which was the telltale sign that someone was very wrong with her. “As the months went by, it got worse. I started losing the use of my whole left side. It was then that Cher sent me to see her spine specialist,” said Sanchez to America Star Magazine. After seeing Cher’s doctors, a neurosurgeon told Sanchez that she had a benign brain tumor and she had to undergo 19 hours of emergency surgery to remove it. To this day, Sanchez.


When you are an Emmy nominated choreographer and director, not being able to dance or move can really put a damper on your livelihood, but Sanchez was determined to heal, one step at a time. She developed a mantra during her recovery that she still lives by today: I walk, I run, I dance. Thankfully, over time, Sanchez’s desire to dance again was the motivation she needed to make a full recovery. As an ambassador for The Global Dance Initiative, Sanchez was recognized for her efforts to use dance to heal, connect, and inspire.

Today, the best advice Sanchez could give to aspiring dancers would be to stay true to themselves. “The most important advice is to be yourself. Be who you are and don’t try to compare or compete with anyone else,” said Sanchez in an interview with Tara Nicole Hughes. In my opinion, this is the best piece of advice you can give anyone. Cheers to Doriana Sanchez for staying true to her passion while in recovery, and coming out on the other side smiling, dancing, and still enjoying life.

Doriana Sanchez on

Source: Tara Nicole Huges

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