July 2021: Sarah U
Who is Sarah U in a sentence?
I would describe myself as a sensitive, passionate and ambitious human-being who loves human connection and dance.
Tell us a bit about your work and practice.
I am a dancer, choreographer and dance teacher but choreography and creation are my favourite things about dance. I create work based on my daily life and I draw inspiration from books, conversations, buildings, objects, news, music that touches me. In choreography, I am interested in improvisation and my body’s genuine response in reaction/relationship to a space and/or sensation (temperature/scent/sound/memory). In my process, I do a lot of deconstruction of movement such as cutting and pasting; mixing and matching; manipulation through speed, dynamics, effort, to help me generate more material from pre-existing ones. I also have a visual art practice and I work mainly in the mediums of acrylic painting, line art and collages. I wish to bring my interests in visual arts and my movement practice together as I proceed in the art industry.
How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing for around 14 years now. My first love is Latin and Ballroom dancing. I did that for 8 years in China. When I came to Canada in 2015, I joined a contemporary/ballet dance class in my high school and have been doing that since then. For now, my favourite style of dance is contemporary.
How does dance fit into your life currently?
I am finishing my dance degree in Simon Fraser University soon and have been planning my next steps: writing grants, going to artist talks etc. My main project right now is my new work for Vines Arts Festival 2021. The work will premiere in August 2021, and I am working on some movement generation, rehearsal planning, material gathering, score writing for that work.
How would you describe dance’s impact on your life?
I think the most fulfilling moments in my short 22 years on Earth are related/connected to dance in one way or the other. Sometimes it is feeling grounded in a contact improvisation class on a Monday morning ;and sometimes it is the final bow on the last performance night; it is presenting a work and it is watching my students on stage etc. This is very cliche to say… but dance makes me happy and I think it somehow helps me find my place and purpose. I remembered getting a spine injury when I was 13 and I felt like it was the end of the world because dance was the only thing I kind of knew how to do. Now I can imagine myself doing different things, but I do not envision a future where dance and creation is not a major part of my life.
How are you spending your time during the Covid pandemic?
I have been doing online school in SFU dance for the past 1.5 years. Dancing at home is quite challenging, but I think I am getting quite used to it now. One good thing about things moving online is I get to take workshops and meet people all around the world (time difference is still a problem), but I could never imagine taking a class with a choreographer in New York in the morning, and taking a class with a teacher in Edmonton in the afternoon before the pandemic.
What three core values drive your engagement with dance?
Curiosity, sensitivity, discipline.
Do you have a particular practice that you carry out each day or have you implemented new practices in adapting to the current climate?
I try to do at least one creative thing every day. Most days it is focused on movement, but other days it can also be writing, painting, sewing, crafting. I want to practice my creativity as much as I can, and if I am feeling really unproductive and unimaginative, I find inspiration from other people’s creativity: I read, listen to music, visit galleries, watch dance performances etc.
What would you say are the most significant benefits to being a Dance Centre member?
To have access to the programs: the residencies, artists resources etc and having support for my choreographic projects.
Interested in becoming a Dance Centre Member? Learn more here
Photos by Laura Zeke