RahDanceWorks Turns 8!

It was in March, 8 years ago, that I started some movement projects and formed a dance company. That was 8…years…ago! Wow!

It’s been a crazy ride. I’ve changed the name 2x, some years I haven’t even presented work, and I’m still figuring it out. There have been (and still are) so many times I felt like a failure…But my success doesn’t look like your success. And yours shouldn’t look like mine. Because that would be boring.

There is room for all types of art and artists, in all shapes and sizes and durations. Art reflects life, and I love variety. So, I’m gonna take a moment to celebrate!

I’ve met and brought artists together from around the world, self-produced events to showcase new work, been asked to present my own choreography in a solo show, and helped foster creative aging projects. But it takes a village and I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most inspiring dancers, artists, and arts admin (I really love you all so much). And now I’m solo traveling and sharing dance in some pretty dope locations. 8 years strong. So here’s to 8 more.

Please enjoy this little montage I created of some site-specific improvs over the last year or so:

Keep movin’,
Sarah

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU for all you mean to us here at RahDanceWorks. Whether you are actively involved as a volunteer; help promote our work via social media; make financial gifts in support of our programs; or simply pay attention to what is going on with the Company from afar, we want you to know how much we appreciate your support.

As everyone enjoys the festivities in the coming days and weeks, I hope we all take time to remember that friends, family, love, respect, acceptance, and being grateful are important at all times of the year. Without each other, what do we have? Thank you for being a part of our dynamic, diverse, and inclusive community. Thank you for pushing us forward!

Photo: Host Committee Members from Rooftop Revelry
Photo Credit: Scott Shaw

A New Name: RahDanceWorks

Last night I was asked to help out at a Harlem Stage Think Tank event: “What is the Soundtrack to Harlem’s Future?” It was a wonderful night paying homage to Harlem’s history, a real reflection on gentrification, and a celebration of Harlem’s vibrant community of artists. I am very grateful that I was able to be there. It was a vital moment for me, and ignited an old desire to change my company name.

I have to thank one artist in particular, Jaylene Clark Owens, for being there to perform a section from her play, “Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale!” Her performance was a inspiring recitation of “SoHa”, a piece about Harlem’s gentrification, with lines like, “…Which is why I just don’t understand how some people are trying to turn my home’s name into a brand, trying to box it, and squeeze it, into some four letter package. Being from ‘SoHa’ was not, and never will be, a part of my heritage….if you asked me, nothing sounds cooler then living in HARLEM” The words she spoke resonated a deep awakening in me that I came head-to-head with.

She also recited, “…It would be the culture and the history that made me chose it.” And that is exactly why I love living in, and fell in love with Harlem. Its deep history reflects the vibrancy, originality, essence and drive that I feel in myself. I am not from Harlem, but I feel more at home here then anywhere else. And most of all, it reminds me of where I grew up, in St. Croix.

When I decided to name my company SoHa Dance, I thought about gentrification and whether it was the right choice. I decided to go with it because it was a play on my own name (Sarah Horne) and a homage to the neighborhood that I love and live in. But by using “SoHa Dance”, I am taking away from the expansiveness and diversity of Harlem’s history, and giving in to the worst parts of gentrification. The term “SoHa” was used as early as 1997, becoming a tag name and sign of gentrification for the southern edges of Harlem to make it more marketable to investors. This has happened before in NYC and it will continue to happen, but that doesn’t mean I need to represent it. The Harlem I know is a major African-American and Latino community, home to important historic landmarks and leaders, and especially known for the “Harlem Renaissance,” an unprecedented outpouring of artistic work in the black community. My point here is that I am absolutely a part of the gentrification happening in Harlem – that’s undeniable. I am a white female artist and I moved to Harlem in 2011. However, I want to honor the place and history of where I live in, instead of cutting it into pieces and becoming a false representation. And importantly, what can I bring to the table for the Harlem community in a positive and progressive way? This is why I think my company’s name, and change of name, is important. Several months ago I thought about it and after last night, I knew it was right. It’s time to take action about something I believe in. That’s the power of art, human stories, and connections: it gives us true reflection and helps us take real action.

I’m very excited for our new name: RahDanceWorks. It’s also a play off my name, but most importantly…..With my mission to promote positive connections through movement, I look forward to moving the Company into a new era of light, love, learning, and growth through the power of pure – raw – dance. I believe that movement is for everyone – regardless of ability, age, race, or sexuality. At its most raw and basic level, dance connects people across cultures and can break down barriers. This is why I love moving. A dance CAN create change.

As some of you may know, this will be the second shift in names I’ve had. Third times a charm, right?! Sometimes it takes us awhile to get to the source of who we are and what we represent, and I am not one to judge a process. I never liked using my full name for my company, since my works and productions are very collaborative, so it’s taken some time to find the right fit. Over the next few weeks I’ll be in the process of updating the website and all materials related to the Company. I hope you enjoy the new name and find this blog helpful in the reasons behind the change.

Thank you all for your endless support!

With love,
Sarah

P.S. Go here to see her a recorded performance of Jaylene’s “SoHa”!

In the beginning

First of all – thank you. All of the support and encouragement around what I am doing has made it possible to do what I do! After four years of working at a major ballet company, I’ve decided to pursue my dream of exploring dance around the world. I just came off a full-length production of my choreography in late August, after producing an event in NYC highlighting Harlem artists… and my next big move is to travel the globe and get inspired by the movers and shakers and tastemakers of our lifetime.

The goal of this blog is simple – to find out what moves the world.

What moves us, as human beings on this earth, and in this life? We’re all motivated by something (or many things) no matter how big or small that inspiration may seem. I know what moves me….dance and human connections! And even that can be manipulated at any moment, depending on my circumstance at any given time. We evolve, and our inspirations can change day-to-day or minute-to-minute. So I want to capture those moments. For myself, and with others. Because we’re all growing together.