Sarah Coolidge

Dance Artist & Educator

Artist Statement

The broad spectrum of dance performance can be divided into two categories: commercial and concert.  Commercial dance fuses technical perfection with music and uses excitement to help convey a message that is both immediately accessible and viscerally relatable to an audience.  Jazz dance and hip-hop are familiar styles of commercial dance.  They can be seen in music concerts and videos, commercials on television, and in the musical theatre, to name a few.  Concert dance focuses on artistic intention and the removal of theatrics to produce movement that speaks for itself.  It challenges its audiences to fully engage with the work by digging deeper than their initial emotional reactions.  Concert dance is most commonly studied in college dance programs and is presented by modern, post-modern, and ballet companies in both traditional and unconventional performance spaces. 

I embrace both ideological approaches and seek to bridge the gap between them with my work.  The dance pieces I create seek to balance the virtuosic with the pedestrian and draw from a range of traditions including jazz, modern, ballet, and everyday movement.  As an interdisciplinary artist, my art practice floats seamlessly between that of the dance world and everyday life.  Everyday tasks are approached through a similar creative lens and each of those experiences informs the work I create for the stage.  Often driven by linear narratives, my dance pieces explore the human condition and are inspired by life, such as baking a chocolate cake, planting a garden, or being a mother.

The initial inspiration for movement creation manifests in a variety of ways: out of visceral movement obsessions, thematic hankerings, narrative curiosities, or personal experiences.  Movement invention develops from an inward focus guided by the physical and dynamic ways in which the body wishes to move, also paying close attention to how a movement feels.  From here, I build outwardly, as I seek movement that both conveys emotion and is exciting to watch.  Idiosyncratic movements are embraced as they often speak to a deeper truth than a technically perfect one.  I am instinctually drawn to athletic movement but am also compelled by how quiet, small gestures can be just as significant as explosive, space hungry ones.

I treat the choreographic process like a game.  Each concept is investigated as if it were a piece of a puzzle, each correctly placed piece bringing greater clarity to the broader message of a work.  I value the different ways in which the body can create and carve out shape in a space and how in relation to each other those shapes can dictate focal points. 

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