"Clark is especially skilled at creating choreography that showcases her dancers, who range in ability from barely beginners to professional level. The result is a delightful evening in the theatre, filled with high energy and more fun than I can remember having in a long time."  ~Bay Area Reporter


Part-Time Passions 
Don’t let your day job get in the way of your dreams                                        
by Dianne Hales

By day they’re working women: teachers, nurses, lawyers, sales clerks, managers.  But during their off-hours, many women are pursuing personal passions rather then paychecks.  They dance, they sing, they paint, they craft, they train dogs.

Why do busy women add yet another commitment to their crowded schedules?  Some are dusting off a girlhood dream or exploring a path they never had the opportunity to take.  Others seek greater balance, personal fulfillment or a break from an all-too-famliar routine.  As these stories illustrate, an “extracurricular” activity can add extraordinary richness to one’s daily life.

Let’s Dance
The theater lights dim.  The curtain rises.  Cancan dancers with frilly petticoats kick sky-high in a Parisian cabaret.  Sultry couples, swathed in red satin and black velvet, sizzle through a torrid tango.  While the sets, costumes and choreography look professional, the dancers are not.  From 9 to 5, these energetic performers file legal briefs, teach classes, sell jewelry, treat patients and run homes and businesses.  

“They’re meek drones of society by day and daring devil-may-care dancers by night,” says Doree Susanne Clark, the dancer and choreographer who founded the aptly named Don’t Quit Your Day Job Dancers in Marin County, California.

Ten years ago, Doree recruited students from her popular dance classes to put on a show.  “The first one was literally in a barn, but we now have one-hundred thirty-five dancers,” she says. “The only theater that can hold the audience is San Francisco’s one thousand-seat the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.”

The company’s annual dance spectacular sells out every performance.  But no one enjoys the show more than the dancers on stage.  Lisa Star has appeared in all 13 shows the troupe has put on over the last decade.  The first time she rehearsed, she had to look down at her feet to remember which was right or left.  This year she took center stage as a brassy, sassy, red-wigged superhero.

Over the years her confidence has grown offstage as well.  “I was washing dishes at a restaurant when I started dancing with Doree,” Lisa explains, “Now I’m the international sales and operations manager for LucasArts Entertainment Company.  After a lifetime as a wannabe, I get to live my dream.”

The time commitment is immense, with months of rehearsal culminating in a frantic crush before the May performances.  Architects in the troupe design the scenery; carpenters build the sets; everyone pitches in to sew costumes or apply makeup. “Our shows are the size of Radio City Music Hall spectaculars,” says Brenna Holden, who worked on Broadway as a stage manager for West Side Story and Evita.  “This group is so much more fun: no egos, no competiveness.  Just about everyone has to get over being too big, too small, too old, too whatever—and they do.  Something magical happens on stage that is bigger than all of us.”

Two weeks after a performance, preparations begin for the following year.  “After the show, we say we want our lives back,” says Cecile O’Conner, a psychiatric nurse who works the night shift from 11 pm to 7 am so we can make evening rehearsals.  “Then we realize the company is our life and our family.  If we had to choose, most of us would quit our day jobs rather then give up the sheer joy of dancing together.”

- Woman’s Day, February 1, 2003http://www.womansday.com/
"So worth crossing the bridge.... Doree Clark is amazing - you'll love working with her in that she has a great sense on how to help you begin without feeling intimidated or awkward, and she will customize and choreograph something specific for you and your partner to your song. Can't say enough good things, and she's just in Sausalito (literally just over the bridge 2 minutes from Hwy 101). Best of Luck!"   ~Nicole , posted on tribe.net



Don't Quit Your Day Job Dancers Premieres New Piece
by Kathryn Roszak Castle

We've all heard the familiar phrase "Don't quit your day job," but in Marin there's an entire company called Don't Quit Your Day Job Dancers. Lawyers, doctors and accountants by day, they're dancers at night and on weekends. The company, now in it's 15th year, is the brainchild of ex-New York dancer Doree Clark. Clark is responsible for putting over 100 dancers on stage in shows taking place at such venues as the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Now her company is housed at the 120-seat Stage Dor Theater in Sausalito, where they'll perform Clark's latest creation, The Soul of a Woman, from November 3 to 19. "We're not just a company, we're a phenomenon," says Clark of her dedicated troopers and their following. "We perform 'dansicals,' where the concept and story are told through music and dance." 

Clark got her inspiration for the current show when she saw Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and then had a powerful experience putting on a mask in the store following the performance. "When I put on the mask, I felt beautiful, sensual," says Clark. "When you put on mask it can reveal who you really are." The Soul of a Woman, a one hour off-Broadway style premiere, centers around a soccer mom who dons a mask and then discovers that she is an extraordinary machine, doing it all. "There are several women characters in the show," says Clark "and when the women put on masks they feel their power and what's revealed stays with them. This new sense of self never fades." Male dancers are an important part of the show. Many of the male company members were dragged into dance classes by their female partners. In the performance, male dancers partner the women in cabaret and jazz styles.

"People love the intimacy of seeing shows at Stage Dor Theater," says Clark "You almost have the sense that you can reach out and touch a dancer." For more information, visit www.stagedor.com or call (415) 339-1390.

-Kathryn Roszak Castle

Published in Theatre Bay Area magazine, October 2006. www.theatrebayarea.org.
"There are so many reasons that I dance at StageDor as opposed to the many other studios and classes around Marin County that I've tried.  The studio itself is bright, welcoming, warm, private and spacious enough that we never feel crowded no matter how big the class.  The other dancers are real people who just want to have fun and feel good about themselves.  

But the best reason is Doree herself. I'm a beginner and I've been dancing with Doree for less than a year. There's no one who even comes close to Doree in terms of her exuberance, warmth and sheer joy of helping her students learn. She has a unique ability to motivate each student and find his or her special abilities. She is a cheer-leader, a coach, and an inspiration. The joy that she exudes is so infectious that it's impossible to walk out of one of her classes without a huge smile on your face."  ~Sherry Paul
"... I have the privilege to be working in Dale Polissar's  By George It's War with dancer, choreographer, and co-director Doree Clark, who has taken a cast of mostly singing actors (granted we're all athletic) and made legitimate dancers out of us for the production.  This energetic vivacious professional (who teaches at Stage Dor in Sausalito) improvised routines on the spot and worked us until the efforts morphed into praise for her work.  If you ever wanted to take dance, or see a first class production, you can't go wrong with Doree Clark."  ~Charlie Morgan, Dillon Beach, Letter to the Editor published in the Point Reyes Light 
"When my husband and I moved to our little maritime village across the Golden Gate Bridge, I discovered Stage Dor Dance Studio, run by Doree Clark - and there she was, a few decades younger than I, teaching tap, Bob Fosse jazz, salsa, and even pole dancing to adults. Doree also founded the "Don't Quit Your Day Job Dancers" which is one of the great cultural institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area that puts on close-to-Broadway-calibre productions every year.  So what am I grateful for among many, many things (including a new, incoming administration)?  It's Doree Clark--who currently teachers our weekly Wednesday tap class--a woman who has given our community such a wonderful place to express our Inner Dancer.  We 50- and 60-somethings have found that dancing keeps us young and healthy and happy to be alive."   ~ Ciji Ware
I started dancing with Doee Clark as a Don't Quit Your Day Job Dancer in 1992.  Although I came from an athletic background I had no idea what counts in music were or cadence of music was and timing with a partner was as foreign to me as any new language.  Helplessness ensued.  Patiently but never begrudgingly Doree worked with me over many years to become one of her male leads.  I've watched her company grow from the 24 members of the first performance I was in, to the 130 members letting it fly at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, to the 60 or so rotating cast members who perform original productions of Doree's creation at her Stage Dor Black Box Theater in Sausalito.  Through it all Doree has welcomed my participation to the degree I've offered it and has always made me feel like an important part of what she was doing.  Somehow Doree brilliantly knows when to leave me alone and when she can push for something more.  This is certainly not all she does but I have benefited greatly from this particular gift of hers.  Being rebellious by nature I never imagined I would be involved with anything elective for very long, much less dance, and much, much less enjoy it.  But here I am 17 years later, still meeting and interacting with wonderful and talented people with Doree at the top of the list and still feeling increasingly proud to be called on of Doree's dudes.   ~Jamie Hazelton
"Without Doree Clark's 20-year presence in my life, I would have never had the courage to step up over my fears and self-doubt to claim that creative, expressive, dynamic dancer in me that had been hidden for so much of my life. 

One of Doree's great assets is her belief that if a person has a single grain of desire to dance, she can assist them in learning how to give expression to it. It is an unwavering belief in her student's ability to find their joy in dance (or outside of it). People walk away from her classes, happier, healthier, and I think most likely more productive in their non-dance life because of their experience in her classes. 

As far as community, there really isn't a more conducive place to find friendship and support than at Doree's dance studio in Sausalito, Stage Dor. And the public performances and showcases that Doree creates and directs light up the audiences who often actually feel they are a part of the ensemble. 

I have heard time and time again from well-wishers in the audience how they love Doree's shows, because she uses real people -- just like them. And that's true, we are not that much different than the people in the audience -- we like to smile, to laugh, to cry happily, to move gracefully, to move clumsily with laughter, to move with joy. Doree sees all of that and makes it happen."    ~Virginia Simpson-Magruder
"Doree Clark has created, at Stage Dor in Sausalito, a community where even the least talented dancer, if they have the desire to dance, is made to feel welcome and successful.  She achieves this through her generous nature, and an effervescent love of dance.  She believes that dance is an expression open to everyone; at no time is any student allowed to feel inadequate.  There is no pressure to be like, or emulate anyone else.  One's own expression is the truth for that person and as valid as any other.  Doree creates performance opportunities in her black box performance space, for any of her students who want to perform.  These shows, under the nom de guerre: "The Don't Quit Your Day Job Dancers" are an outpouring of sheer enjoyment on the part of the dancer that sucks the audience in to an unexpectedly euphoric experience."   ~Ingrid Serenne
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