The closest thing she has to a real office is her computer room at home, where she cuts music for shows and sends emails out to families. But most often, you can find her at Manassas Ballet Theatre, where she is busily choreographing a full length ballet version of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ for the fall.
Sara has been a dancer for 24 years and a Principal Dancer for 11 years. Now, going into her 12th season at the Manassas Ballet Theatre, Sara is able to reflect on her journey through dance and pass on her dance knowledge at the Manassas Ballet Academy, where she is the the assistant director.
When she was young, her mom would try to get her involved in a variety of activities, but she only loved dance. Sara never wanted to miss a class and wanted to be in every show. In high school, she took dance classes six nights a week while working part-time. She won a Regional
Youth Grand Prix Award from Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), and graduated as her high school’s Valedictorian.
“Dance gave me a stronger work ethic than I may have developed otherwise, which, naturally, has helped in every aspect of my life,” reasoned Sara.
Maturing came with insecurities. Growing up, she consistently received praise, awards and
scholarships. But later in life, her body changed and she felt that people were less interested in her talent and dedication.
A few summers ago, Sara’s dance company received a request for dancers for a mental health benefit. She gladly accepted. While there, she met an arts consultant. Months later, the newly befriended arts consultant submitted Sara for a casting call for a History Channel miniseries titled, ‘The World Wars’. Sara landed the part as “the ballerina”. She performed a two-minute routine many times with different camera angles. “It was an amazing experience, and one
I never expected ballet would lead me to,” Sara explained.
Sara loves dance because she gets to be an athlete and an artist. She loves seeing the results of the work she is putting in.
“Dance is fair that way," she said.
She also loves using those results to inspire and evoke strong emotional responses from an audience. Sara loves the rules of ballet, the history, the classics and the connection she feels to other dancers through the steps.
"It's as right and natural and necessary to me as breathing is," Sara said.
Sara views ballet as her gift, and passes on that gift to a new generation through her youth ballet students. The first time she watched her students perform, she was so overwhelmed by pride and joy that it brought her to tears. Sara says that the most difficult thing to overcome as a dance instructor is making sure that each student understands what the correction is and how to correct it on their own bodies.
“One student might respond to ‘ribs in,’ while another understands ‘straighten your spine’ better,” she proposed. “It’s a great feeling when you get through to a student and their face lights up.”
Finding ways to explain steps to her students has led to her gaining a better understanding of her own dancing. Because of the aches and pains she experiences in her own feet, she encourages her students to take foot care seriously, and to always stretch their calves.
“When I was young, I would wear dead shoes and show off my arches,” she said. “I ended up pulling tendons in the top of my foot, and now they always hurt.”
Most of all, she urges dancers to never give up.
There are so many companies out there, you will find the right one for you. If you work hard and keep your passion alive, you will reach the stars. And always remember that you decide your worth,” Sara advises. “There will be directors, dancers, and critics who do not like you, but they cannot diminish your shine unless you let them. Never stop believing.”
Being a principal dancer has been a dream come true for Sara, whose favorite roles have been Odette/Odile, Kitri, and Myrtha in Giselle.
“I love the quiet tension onstage right before the lights come up. But, you can't be a ballet dancer forever,” she professed. “One day, I will hang up my pointe shoes, and I am thrilled that I will be able to continue passing on my passion and knowledge to the next generations of dancers.”
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