Introducing Sarah Robertson – Our Featured UGOT Active Kids Instructor!
While Sarah currently teaches Dance, Yoga and Active Toddler programs for UGOT Active Kids in Toronto, she grew up in Vancouver. While her formal dance studies didn’t start until she was 16, she was always dancing around the house and at her church. She looked up to older teenagers who danced and admired their expression and passion. “I have to do what they’re doing,” she found herself thinking. Sarah had always had interest in theatre and had wanted to be an actor, but soon found herself drawn to dance. She studied tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and contemporary dance and then completed a 4-year semi-professional program called Mirror Dance Program which focused on dance and choreography. Sarah continued her artistic education by studying theatre with Rosebud School of the Arts in Alberta. After 6 years there, she continued heading East, moved to Toronto last year and had the experience of being a Governor General Performing Arts Protégé, under the mentorship of Tom Jackson.
After moving to Toronto is when Sarah started with UGOT Active Kids. When speaking about the work she does with UGOT, Sarah says she appreciates that the programming is recreational. Because of the non-competitive programming, as an instructor, she has the freedom to customize her classes to what each individual group needs. “I know many dancers who left dance because comparison broke down their self-esteem,” she explains. “Because UGOT focuses more on play and expression, rather than competition, I was drawn to it right away. I love encouraging playfulness or silliness. In structured days at school, there is so much ‘Pay attention and focus’. But I get to have them move their bodies and express themselves.”
Sarah’s interest and passion in play and the importance of it is something she has pursued for years. Over the last year, she has been researching the subject in more depth, looking at studies on the health benefits of play, and how both children and adults learn better through it. She is putting her passion and knowledge towards a new theatre piece that she is producing – a playful and experimental piece about birthdays.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading books, especially biographies of artists. She names “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen as one she particularly enjoyed. “I felt like I need what [he has] to say about life, success and sustainability of an artistic career.” Another artist who Sarah draws inspiration from is Roberto Benigni, the director and star of “Life is Beautiful”. She admires that he is playful and child-like. “He’s always talking about ‘Chase down happiness. Find it wherever you are.’” And naturally, because of the playful nature of children, she gets inspiration from the young people she works with. “I love kids so much,” Sarah gushes. “They inspire me every time I see them.”
- What would people be surprised to learn about you? I once did a vow of silence for 31 days!
- If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be? Scotland. Those are my roots and I haven’t yet been.
- If you could live anyplace, where would that be? East coast of Canada for SURE! Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. I love the laid-back vibe, the story-telling culture, the kitchen parties and hospitality.
- What languages do you speak? English and Gibberish (I love playing around with language and speaking nonsense for fun!)
- What is your favourite thing about teaching dance to kids? I love kids so much and how much room there is for playing. They’re so ready to be silly and creative and express themselves. All I want to do is encourage that spirit and see it come out through whatever program I’m running.
- Who or what inspires you? Roberto Benigni (the actor from Life is Beautiful – if you haven’t seen it, I insist you do at some point!). He is so playful, so full of life, so free from lots of cultural/societal limitations. He is a very bright soul and speaks of chasing down happiness, looking for it everywhere until we find it, of falling in love NOW because that’s what we’re here on earth for! And children. Children inspire me EVERY TIME I interact with them. They’re so free, like Roberto. 🙂
- What’s your favourite food? Hagen Daas Coffee Ice Cream, good pink lemonade, my mom’s lasagna and spaghetti, and grapes!
- What is your favourite thing to do in your free time? I love really settling into a good book. Getting cozy, wrapped in a blanket or out in a park, and reading away the day. I also love spontaneous adventures, like exploring a new part of the city.
- Does dancing run in your family? Dancing doesn’t really run in my family, though my mom was a cheerleader like I was when she was young!
Interview and Article by Jeanette Hedley