Sarah Baumert is a dance artist, native to Nebraska. She received a BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota in 2002. Sarah has worked as a contemporary dancer with choreographers Xavier LeRoy, Emily Johnson, Sean Feldman, Sarah Smith, Daniel McCusker, Lisa Krauss, The Body Cartography Project, Mathew Janczewski, Justin Jones, Chris Yon, Maggie Bergeron, Sam Johnson, and Hannah Kramer among others. From 2010-2014, she worked closely with Nell Breyer and the Center for Art, Culture, and Technology at MIT on numerous projects including A Dance Within Sol LeWitt's Bars of Colors Within Squares. These works focused on public art works that explore how we perceive movements physically and how representations form in the mind’s eye. Sarah’s own work has been presented by Dance Advance of Philadelphia, the Somerville Arts Council, and the MIT Center for Art, Culture, and Technology, among others. In teaching, Sarah draws from her knowledge of body-mind practices and her study of improvisation. As a somatics educator, she was involved in research at the Boston Medical Center on yoga’s effects on children with behavioral disorders. She has held teaching positions at the Lemuel Shattock Hospital in Boston, Harvard Center for Wellness, MIT, the University of Minnesota, and the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Her personal research and practice currently includes courses on Material for the Spine with Steve Paxton, the Tuning Scores of Lisa Nelson, Body Mind Centering and training to become a Feldenkrais practitioner. She is the Minneapolis organizer of Nobody's Business, an international initiative for the local and international exchange of performative practices. Her yoga and somatics podcasts have earned worldwide attention for their honest, straightforward, and imaginative approach.
I am interested in how my work as a dancer reorganizes connections between my brain and my body. My current study of the Feldenkrais method supports this exploration by expanding the self-image through movement sequences that bring attention to parts of one's self that are out of awareness. Creating new work and performing constantly challenges my neuromuscular pathways. I am fueled by the desire to experience the neuroplasticity of the brain and how my physicality is affected by it.
The best thing about being an artist is...
Being an artist allows you to connect with others in unique ways and gives me a broad perspective of the world. My belief systems and privileges are continually challenged as an artist in ways that help me understand our diverse world.
The biggest obstacle in working with self is?
My biggest obstacle is my inner critic. During improvisation practices, my hardest work is to be less self-critical and judgmental. Judgment has no business in the creative process.
What advice you would give self at the very beginning of your training and professional career?
Take risks. Even if you don't think you are good enough to work for someone or be in a specific production, try anyways. Tell artists whose work you admire that you want to work for them. They have no way of knowing that you respect their work unless you communicate it to them. Once you have shown interest in them, you have opened the door and they will likely be curious about you.
Are there any strategies you've created to help self in times when working feels difficult, when you feel stuck?
I need a very clear mind in order to work and feel creative. For me, this can come in the form of going for a walk or run to rid my mind of chatter, doing some yoga, cooking or gardening. For me, it needs to be something that gets my body moving and that grounds me in what is happening at the moment. It's almost like I need to exhaust something in myself in order for the anxieties of creating to move aside and leave me free to work.
Talk about a piece of work you experienced recently that moved you and how it found its place in your work?
I recently saw "What the Body Knows", an evening of work by Barak Adé Soleil. Barak is a dancer, choreographer, and poet. His work moved me in ways that I cannot explain. Barak is a disabled black man and his work speaks to this truth. In watching his work, I had so many questions. The two dancers in the evening were both disabled, but I had to question if they really were. This work bends one's idea of what an able'd body is. It says that all bodies are intelligent and that all bodies also have the potential to become limited in different ways.
What other art form do you connect to? How does this craft/discipline help you in your work?
I'm very interested in textile design, fashion, and the movement of fabric. As a dancer, this curiosity often shows up in the form of a costume. I do not wait until the movement of the piece is finished to design the costume. These two processes go hand-in-hand for me. The costumes and the movement affect each other and are created based off of each other. This interest led me to begin creating my own costumes and costume design for many contemporary dance works, including those of choreographers Morgan Thorson, Karen Sherman, and Chris Schlichting.
Describe a productive day at work?
A productive day for me consists of at least an hour of physical warm up practice including Material for the Spine, Feldenkrais, yoga, and the Tuning Scores. Once I feel grounded in my body, I can begin working with other dancers (or myself) with improvisations, listening to each other, playing, and perhaps most importantly, not feeling like we need to be productive.
What is important for you to teach your students?
Most importantly, I want to teach people how to be with the body that they walk around in. I work to help people pay attention and become more sensitive to their own sensations.
How do you reward self for a job well done?
A sauna or hot bath with epsom salts, chocolate, and some time alone to read or write.
In 2016, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2016.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2016
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.