Sarah Levitt, “Serious Kidder”
After graduating from the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies in 2007, Sarah Levitt joined the Dance Exchange, where she continues to find new, exciting ways to search for answers.
As a child, I always used to choreograph dances and make my brother and sister and cousins put on theatrical productions. I was consumed with dancing and performing and improvising. I knew it was what I wanted to do — and now I’m a resident artist at Dance Exchange, where I get to do it all the time.
I’d say I’m a serious kidder because what I do as a dancer every day sometimes seems ridiculous: the way we get to spend our time in the studio, playing with ideas, trying out things, following a lot of paths that might or might not end up working but they lead to something great at the end.
What I do as a dancer every day sometimes seems ridiculous.
I studied dance as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, graduating in 2007. I danced for everybody that came in the door who I wanted to work with — a great number of guest artists — and that really prepared me for professional dancing. The program prepared me in so many ways.
For example, when I was an undergrad at Maryland there was a student-run festival that gave students in all of the performing arts departments a chance to collaborate. Working with a musician and trying to come up with a score for a dance piece in 24 hours for the festival taught me how to work really quickly, how to get pushed and how to push other people.
Knowing I would be performing where I essentially grew up as a dancer — well, there wasn’t anything better.
Working with people who don’t have the same perspective as you — people who push back against what you think works artistically — is really frustrating and inspiring and exciting. It’s a great way to discover what you value as an artist and what your boundaries are.
After I graduated, I performed and rehearsed at the Center a number of times and then I was privileged to perform in the premiere of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s production Matter of Origins in September 2010. rehearsing at the Center for the biggest premiere in my dancing career, knowing I would be performing where I essentially grew up as a dancer — well, there wasn’t anything better. It was great being in a familiar place doing work that was new and unknown. Our first rehearsal period was actually in the Kogod Theatre and we spent the next three years in and out of rehearsal crafting the material, researching and building a team of dancers and scientists.
If you don’t enjoy the process as an artist you probably should get out of the arts.
If you don’t enjoy the process as an artist you probably should get out of the arts because most of my time is process and I have learned that I don’t have all of the answers and I don’t want to have all of the answers. And an important part of the artistic process is the “not knowing” — being really comfortable being scared and surprised by what you’re doing every day.