Meet Dance Festival artist-in-residence Andrea Selby |

Meet Dance Festival artist-in-residence Andrea Selby

Tessa Vlaar
Special to the Daily
Andrea Selby focuses in on the Ballet X dancers during a practice session at the Gerald R. Ford amphitheatre in Vail last Monday. Selby, the artist-in-residence for for the Dance Festival, is doing live drawings of some of the perfomances.
Townsend Bessent | |

Watching Andrea Selby with a paintbrush is like watching a dancer move across an easel as her wrists flick and her shapes come to life on the page. The Vail International Dance Festival artist-in-residence has taken her passion for dance and translated it into her artwork, visually representing the development of a performance and bringing her prior knowledge of the technique and musicality a performance needs to enhance her work. Dance has been a huge part of Selby’s life since a very young age. She attributes her initial draw to dance to an innate desire for movement and rhythm.

“I cannot say what made me want to dance when I was a child — I just had to. When I hear music, it literally moves me. I find it almost painful to sit still. I see the world as movement, or the lack of movement. When I see someone move or be still in a beautiful way, I am captivated,” Selby said.

From dance onto paper

Selby was encouraged to transpose her love for dance into artwork from her dance teacher, Madame Alexandra Danillova. Artwork to Selby is a tribute to both the motion and the inspiration of each piece, and how these elements work together to create a performance. She lets her paintbrush follow the movement of the dancers, as her art becomes a kind of diary of what she sees. Her attention to movement is not lost in her artwork. As a dancer with the New York City Ballet, she learned about the attention to detail and developments of emotion in a piece, lessons she took with her to the drawing board, when an injury forced her to sit out and watch rehearsals.

Selby turned her lemons into lemonade when she took the time to begin appreciating other aspects of a performance than just her role, and used her frustration as a learning experience, working under set designer Ruben Teratunian and watching George Balanchine work with dancers, musicians, composers, costume and set designers. This, she says, was the tipping point with her fascination with the process of creating a piece.

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“When I sketch rehearsals, I see dancers, choreographers and musicians interacting and inspiring each other … I see what limits the dancer’s body has, and then I see how a choreographer can go beyond those limits by creating a movement in a unique way,” said Selby.

This unique vision has gotten Selby noticed by some of the world’s leading choreographers, including Wendy Whelan, Christopher Wheeldon and Damian Woetzel, allowing her to sketch some of the dancers and performances that come out of the leading dance companies in the world. The works she has created representing all different styles of dance has allowed Selby to see new purpose behind her art.

Beyond the visual

Selby believes that there are uses for her art that go beyond simply the visual.

“I am fascinated by choreography and timing. I try often to make notes about how choreographers create because I believe it is important to record the process of creating dance,” she said.

One of Selby’s greatest objectives is to bring new appreciation to the art of dance, from the process of envisioning and choreographing a piece, to the sometimes tedious rehearsals, to the main stage performance. She has worked to create new gratitude for all different dance forms by representing the complexity and the unique skillset required for each. For example, for opening night, Selby drew Tony Award winner Savion Glover, as a tapper, different than she would a ballet dancer, with different quicker lines representing the fast-paced performance and range of motion.

Selby is now bringing these talents to the Vail International Dance Festival as an artist-in-residence, sketching both performances and rehearsals right from the Gerald R. Ford stage. Her artwork can be viewed on the Vail Dance Festival’s Facebook page throughout the event. Selby hopes to enhance this year’s Festival by giving dance lovers a taste of something they may not have noticed in the performances.

“Most people have no idea what goes into making a dance. When they can see it broken down on paper or see the various details that went into making a dance through my sketches and notes and comments on drawings, it can increase the appreciation of the dance. A person can even see things they never saw before,” said Selby.

For more information on Andrea Selby and the Vail International Dance Festival, please visit

This article was written by the Vail Dance Festival for use in the Vail Daily. Send comments and questions about this article to

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