For most people, Andre Fuentes is recognized as Britney Spears' former choreographer. In the international dancing community, he's known as this incredibly genuine person whose passion for his craft transcends beyond being a paid performer or instructor.
It was in September 2012 when I—together with four other girls—competed at the All-Babes Cineleisure Dance Battle. Among the three judges at the panel, Andre was the one that I was drawn into. He clapped, cheered, and was all smiles before and after the performance. We didn't win. But his encouraging demeanor made the experience not a disheartening one.
I remember his first (and sadly the last) dance class that I attended. He taught—you guessed it—a Britney Spears piece he created for one of her music videos (it was Gimme More, I think). It's interesting how I completely don't recall which song we grooved into, yet his helpful pointers have been drilled into my subconscious ever since. Like how he emboldened us to release all our movement inhibitions by fully embracing our sensuality as women.
Funny story: I've always had heavy and thick hair that trickled down my waist. While I was trying to grasp the choreography he was teaching, I was self-conscious about my ponytail because it kept coming undone. He must've noticed my uneasiness, so he called me out and said: "Honey, you gotta let that fabulous hair loose!"
"But my it's too long." I answered shyly. "It gets in the way of my face!"
"TOO LONG?? Girl, have you seen Beyonce's hair??" he said in mock incredulity. "It goes from here," - and then ran towards the end of the studio mirror - "..to here! So you gotta own it!"
The whole class laughed with us. And I was immediately put at ease.
When I learned about the unpleasant details of his passing, I was in shock and disbelief. Who would have known that a person as animated, kind and encouraging as Andre wasn't surrounded by the people he loved during his final hours?
Rest in peace and happy travels, Andre!