About the Colony

Courageous dancer feted at UCLA

We’ve been following the career of Doriana Sanchez since she graduated from Atascadero High School.She was the girl in the black polka dot dress in “Dirty Dancing” and finally co-creator, choreographer and director to Cher’s “Believe” and “Living Proof” tours and the singer’s performances at the Coliseum at Caesars Las Vegas.

The “Living Proof” tour received four Emmy nominations. Doriana was also nominated for an Emmy for choreography for an HBO special.

But our Emmy-nominated “Dori,” as she is known to family and friends, received recognition of a different sort earlier this month. She was honored with the Courage Award during the Visionary Ball for UCLA Hospital.

The two other awards at the Visionary Ball went to Sidney Kimmel for his work in cancer research and Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his leadership in research into heart disease. That puts Atascadero’s own Dori in pretty prestigious company.

About a year ago, Dori was having problems moving around because of pain in her legs. It took some time, but her problem was diagnosed as a brain tumor.

This isn’t good when you are a world-renowned choreographer and director. Moving is what you do, especially when you choreograph the kind of moves Dori does.

My wife and I were Dori’s guests at one of Cher’s “Living Proof” tours several years ago. Dori suffered a major seizure in January of this year and was taken to the UCLA medical facility, where she underwent an 18-hour surgery to remove a fist-sized meningloma. Fortunately, the tumor was benign. Her surgery was done by Dr. Neil Martin.

Thankfully, Dori is now able to dance, choreograph and direct again. In gratitude, she dedicated the disco number in the finale of “So You Think You Can Dance” to Dr. Martin. Dori was a guest choreographer on the Fox show “So You Think You Can Dance” for six seasons.

I learned about all of Dori’s latest activities from her father, longtime friend Frank Sanchez, who is a great “hoofer” himself and appeared in at least one film with Donald O’Connor.

For those of you who mess with YouTube, you can check out Dori’s latest work in China by entering the following titles: “The Crane Dance at Resort World Sentosa,” “Lake of Dreams at Resort World Sentosa Singapore” or “Singapore Casino Insider-First Look at Resort World at Sentosa.”

All this work was with four-time Emmy Award winner Jeremy Railton, an associate with whom Dori has been collaborating for more than 23 years.

Lon Allan can be reached at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.