Our Spotlight series emerged out of the desire for audiences and other artists to connect with dancers who they may not know–because the artist is new to the area, or from a different generation or pocket of the dance scene. The Q&A format lets Seattle dance artists to introduce themselves in their own words, or share where they are in this moment in time.
Name and pronoun:
Sara Caplan, she/her
When did you come to Seattle and why?
I moved to Seattle in August of 2019. I grew up on the East Coast and had been living in Pittsburgh, PA with my husband while he was working on a PhD. While there was a small dance community there it felt very exclusive. There weren’t a lot of opportunities to present work and it was difficult to find consistent professional classes or meet other dancers, so I knew we weren’t going to stay in Pittsburgh long term.
I wanted to be part of a dance scene that felt a little more open and community-focused, not like I was constantly competing with other people for opportunities. Luckily I knew a couple of friends that moved to Seattle when we moved to Pittsburgh, and they seemed to get involved and find opportunities pretty readily. Ultimately, I wanted somewhere I could be a working artist, not just a teacher, and Seattle seemed like a place that I could make that work, although the timing did end up being a little poor, with everything shutting down about 6 months after moving.
What’s your role in Seattle dance?
I think collaborator is probably the best way to describe me right now.
I performed in Bridge Project 2022, Full Tilt 2022, and Coriolis’s recent Wielding Forms festival. I currently dance with Karin Stevens Dance and all of the processes have been very collaborative among the artists. I teach at Rainier Dance Center and Creative Dance Center. Both studios have been a great place to share ideas about what and how to teach young dancers. I am also a managing member of Open Flight Studio in the University District. It has been a really special experience being a part of the history of the space and working with the other members to figure out how to ensure it exists for the Seattle dance community.
What kind of work is your favorite to make/do?
I really love improvisation and it’s been the most consistent practice that I’ve kept since moving to Seattle. I enjoy projects that use improvisation, whether it is a jumping off point in process or ends up as a part of a final piece. I also really enjoy long processes. It allows you to dig into the material and get to know the people you’re dancing with.
Tell us about your next performance.
My next performance will be in the Seattle International Dance Festival with Karin Stevens Dance in June. Karin was awarded a James Ray Residency this year, so we will be sharing a show with another of the recipients. This will be my first time being involved with the festival!
What do you bring to the rehearsal room?
I’m pretty detail-oriented so when it comes to specificity of movement I usually pick up on that pretty quickly. I’m also pretty good when it comes to spatial things; If you need to reverse facings or directions, I got you. In general, I’m willing to try anything and talk about anything in rehearsal. You need a lot of trust in a rehearsal process to make the project successful and I have figured out how to keep myself open to things to help create that environment.
Tell us about your favorite performance that you’ve seen in Seattle and why you loved it.
I really enjoyed Malacarne’s this is concrete II. I love watching dance in non-theater spaces or non-traditional spaces. I also think it’s interesting to be able to experience the space with the dancers and be able to move around them and see the work from multiple perspectives. There were so many different places to explore and different elements in addition to the dancing that were fun to experience (I loved the accordion player). There’s something intriguing about being in an old place and watching the dance become new with every repetition. I was sad I couldn’t stay for the full 5 hours.
Recommend three things!
Go outside. Seattle has so many more parks than any city I’ve lived in on the East Coast and some of them make you feel like you’re in the woods, which I think is just magical. Being outside is the way I’ve been keeping my seasonal depression in check the last few years.
Become a dog person. In general, people seem a little less friendly here, but if you have a dog or really like dogs, people will talk to you about dogs. Even if your dog is barking very loudly at the other person. (We have a corgi mix, he has a lot to say. But people still think he’s adorable.)
Blotto in Capitol Hill has the best pizza. They’re right down the street from 12th Ave Arts next time you want to go see a Velocity show.
If people wanted to follow you and your work, what is the best way for them to do that?