Office Doors: A Day with Ib Andersen

Posted By on December 5, 2019
Ib Andersen

Artistic director of Ballet Arizona

As told to Julie Coleman


I love the mornings. It’s my favorite part of the day. Every day, I have coffee and read The New York Times. I do some painting or sculpting every day. I create my own recipes in terms of glaze and colors. It’s like a mania. It’s something I need to do, not for me to feel good, but for the exploration of the unknown. It stimulates my brain and is something I’ve done since I was a teenager.


I’m in the studio basically nonstop as we are always working on multiple things. Right now, we are rehearsing for “The Nutcracker,” which begins Dec. 12, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in February. The production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” includes more than 100 new costumes and sets. I’m very involved, including choosing fabrics, colors, costume design and fitting. I am also starting to choreograph the fourth production in the Desert Botanical Garden, featuring all original work by me specifically hand-tailored for the Garden. If I’m lucky, I will do half of it before we do “The Nutcracker” and continue choreographing again in March, with a premiere in mid-June. 


Working in the studio all day with the dancers and rehearsing is a lot of work and very intense. You have 40 people looking at you and just waiting for you to say what’s next. It’s not me working with myself. It’s me being in front of a group of people telling them what we are doing and what comes next. Every minute of it is super intense because they all rely on what you have to say.

My job is to get things out of people that they didn’t know they had. It’s giving people mental wings to execute what needs to be done. I’ve done it for so long and I’ve always had an eye for seeing what someone needs to do in order to do it better. I don’t think there are many jobs like a dancer, where you receive constant feedback. I know as a dancer, it’s extraordinary when you get real feedback. After that feedback, you will never be the same. It completely changes your outlook in this life.


My job is very complicated, complex and 24/7. I have been at Ballet Arizona 20 years and my greatest accomplishment is that I’m still here in a business that is really difficult. We rely on other people’s generosity, and to be able to keep motivation and belief in myself, do this year after year, and survive in an environment where raising money is not so easy is something I’m proud of.

Curiosity about what’s next keeps me here. It’s gone unbelievably fast and I still feel that I’ve only scratched the surface.


After work, I shop for food, go home and cook. I am a good cook and enjoy it. I shop because I like knowing exactly what I’m eating. I love eating and love eating good food! I don’t use a recipe and am creative nonstop.


A lot of people have a phobia about ballet because they think it’s something they don’t understand, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There’s nothing to understand. You just have to open your eyes and then see what you get out of it. There’s beauty in it for sure.

There’s no one who does not like music and there’s no one who does not think it’s fun to dance. You get a high to a degree watching ballet because it is a little bit like being in that person’s body feeling what they’re doing. It’s part of the experience. There’s a freedom in dancing. And it will definitely take you out of your daily rut by experiencing something live.


I do feel that I am a servant to the art form. I have been super lucky to work with the best throughout my life. I am privileged, and my knowledge allows me to serve the next generation.

            To learn more, go to

Julie Coleman

About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media.

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