Why We Should All Dance Like Nobody's Watching
Name: Sarah Rodenhouse
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Rochester, NY / Annapolis, MD
Dancing is a universal language, albeit a nonverbal one, and Sarah Rodenhouse is fluent. She spends her days helping both professionals and those who think they don’t have any rhythm find their groove, and she couldn’t be more passionate about it. When Sarah couldn’t find the right outlets for her creative instincts, she didn’t hit a dead end and give up. Instead, she ventured out into uncharted dance territory and found her own destiny like a true boss woman.
IN A FEW SENTENCES, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
I’m a mover and a shaker. A wacky adventurer. And a true advocate of the artform known as dance. I am the president and co-artistic director of an all female non-profit contemporary dance company called MashUp, and also the founder and movement leader of an adult creative movement class (for EVERYONE) called Moved LA.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE YOUR CURRENT CAREER PATH?
From jamming out to Michael Jackson’s BAD album at age 4, through studying dance performance and education at Towson University, to dancing professionally for the first decade of my young adult life, I have always thrived on movement. After experiencing commercial auditions around LA and NY, where I felt like I didn’t always fit in, I realized that I wasn’t just a dancer, but an artist. My “quirks” and oddities were all part of my unique voice and I finally discovered that in dance, like any other art form, there is no wrong or right, just what feels good and allows you to genuinely express yourself. This pushed me to form a professional dance company that celebrated many unique female voices, and then ultimately start teaching Moved LA classes to show even “non” dancers that they too can have a unique voice within this artform without an ounce of training.
HOW DID YOU GO FROM IDEA TO EXECUTION?
Both MashUp and Moved LA are still works in progress, but I really feel like the key for me was to stop making excuses and just start doing. In starting a nonprofit dance company with my co-director Victoria Brown, it took a lot of research, reaching out to anyone who could help lead me in the right direction, and not being afraid to work really hard especially in areas that I was totally unfamiliar with. I realized that a project doesn’t have to be perfect to launch, you just have to really want to do it and be ready to put the time in. You can make changes along the way and your project or business or whatever it is will evolve with you.
Another thing I learned with both MashUp and Moved LA, is that I can’t do it all by myself. As a pretty independent (and mayyyyybe slightly controlling) person, that was and is still a hard one to grasp. I am so incredibly thankful though that I’ve had such incredible family and friends who have volunteered both their time and money to see me succeed in my endeavours. Even though I’ve worked extremely hard, I know I couldn’t have pulled off half of the seriously crazy things I have without them. You all know who you are!
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
I can’t say that I have one real mentor in particular that has helped shape my career, although at this point I still would love to find one, but I have drawn inspiration and advice informally from lots of lovely people in my life. There are different choreographers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with and taken class from such as Kate Hutter and Ryan Heffington, friends in the creative community here in LA that have included me in different events and groups like my friend Jill Yee and my “Coffee Talk” girls, and most recently I attended the UNIQUE CAMP which was like having a whole huge group of mentors that I had just met! All of these people have boosted my confidence in what I’m doing and provided some great insight and tidbits of information to help me along the way.
HAS REJECTION EVER AFFECTED YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
HELL YES! After nearly a decade of dance auditions in a difficult industry, I basically felt like “reject” was my middle name. For a lot of these commercial projects I just wasn’t the type of dancer they wanted me to be and in my mind that meant that I wasn’t a good dancer at all. I think everyone has felt like this at some point or another and this feeling very specifically has been the inspiration behind a lot of my work with MashUp and now Moved LA as well. I now create work that FEELS GOOD to me rather that what just LOOKS GOOD to others, which I think so many dancers focus on the latter and really strive for that approval and perfection. My rejections have helped me to better understand who I really am and inspired me to create based on exactly that.
NAME 3 LESSONS YOU'VE LEARNED FROM BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS:
1. You can’t do everything by yourself
2. You have to REALLY love what you’re doing and make the time to do it
3. If you’re building a brand that has purpose and passion, then you will figure out how to succeed
IN YOUR WORDS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A “CREATIVE”?
I think being a creative means staying true to who you are and what you believe in. I think being a creative means doing what works for you and not necessarily the norm. And I also think being a creative means that you have something that you just need to share with the world.
TOP PODCASTS FOR CREATIVES AND WHY:
- Going to the UNIQUE CAMP was really incredible for me. Unplugging from the outside world, meeting some incredible people, learning new things, and feeling like a kid again.
- ilovecreatives has been a great resource for me to find and post some cool ass creative events.
- Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit” is a wonderful read and especially inspiring for me.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON THAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
MashUp is hosting a big event for International Women’s Day on Wednesday March 8th. We’ll be showcasing some of the best female choreographers in the area and involving local women’s charities and organizations! Moved LA will be hosting a big grand opening event in the late spring with a movement class and shopping from your favorite local vendors and lots of other fun surprises! Both of these events will be held in their new permanent home on Gilroy St. in the Frogtown neighborhood of LA. There are some other workshops and events for both MashUp and Moved LA at the start of the new year that will be posted soon too...just lots of movin’ and shakin’!
FINISH THIS SENTENCE:
I want people to remember me as: a badass passionate lady and an advocate of movement.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would do: as much traveling and dancing and listening to hip hop and celebrating with friends and family as I possibly could!
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: Notorious BIG, Let Me Get down Watch
Where can we find you?
Photos by: Kelly Mustapha-Kellett and Geneva Cegelis