We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Elizabeth Stanley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah Elizabeth, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
As a student, I was under the impression that I had to be singularly focused on dance in order to progress. This helped in some ways: I was constantly in class, and when I had any free time I was rehearsing, stretching, or doing other dance-related things, and I didn’t socialize much outside of my immediate dance community. I had no balance, and this lack of life experience was evident in my performance and artistry. Now, I look forward to time away from dance! Taking a break from the stresses of training and creating allows me to fully engage in both of those practices without the concern of burnout.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a performer, choreographer, and teacher. I’ve performed professionally in Arizona (where I grew up) and New York (where I went to college), but I feel most at home in California. I founded the x2 Dance Collective with my best friend and favorite collaborator, Brynn Bodair, when we realized that the kinds of work we wanted to engage in did not yet exist and that we’d have to create it ourselves. Additionally, I was performing and training with DIAVOLO, an acrobatic dance company, as well as doing freelance work until I began my graduate studies. I started an MFA program in 2019, which has been significantly interrupted by the pandemic. Initially, I was a bit paralyzed. How am I going to make choreography over Zoom? Do I even believe this work is relevant? I missed physically connecting with others so much, and I hadn’t realized how important this was to me in my artmaking. I decided that I don’t want to make work for the stage anymore. The formal separation of audience and performer, of passive space and active space, is something I want to do away with in my dances. My thesis presentation is a film that asks the audience to make choices in an interactive way, which is my attempt at creating an entirely virtual dance that connects the audience to the performer.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I’m currently based in Long Beach, a good day begins with a walk along Bluff Park or a quick rollerblade trip down one of the beach paths. I also like to get a morning coffee at Lord Windsor, Steelhead, or Portfolio. In terms of restaurants, I’d have to recommend Lola’s and Spicy Sugar, two of my favorite dinner spots. I look forward to museums opening back up so I can return to the Museum of Latin American Art and the Long Beach Museum of Art! For now, I enjoy spending time outside at Rosie’s Dog Beach for dog watching or the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve for bird watching.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Brynn Bodair and x2 Dance Collective!