Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah J Bartholomew.
Sarah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been performing and creating since I was in the womb. I think, anyway. It just existed in my body and I want it to stick around in whatever form it molds into. I started taking dance class when I was three. I joined a dance company when I turned seven. I started performing in Musical Theatre when I was about seven. I started teaching dance when I was 16. I traveled the world with the dance company. I went to college in London at the Urdang Academy for Professional Dance & Musical Theatre from ages 18-23. Then I moved back to LA and have been here working for five years.
All of the training has definitely given me technique, accountability, work ethic… but my travels, friendships, curiosity, & experiences are what continue to inform my creativity.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Is it ever a smooth road? I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than a couple miles without hitting a bump or a pebble or a pothole… there have been lots of struggles and lots of celebrations. Tears of laughter, tears of pain, tears of joy.
The biggest thing I always talk about is my body and what it has gone through. What I put it through. What the world has put it through. What this industry has put it through.
From the beginning, we are taught to hate our bodies and to never be enough as we are in that moment. Being a girl, living in Los Angeles, and being a part of the dance community… there is a lot of pressure to be and look a certain way. And even that sentence can sound very shallow and surfaced. But the effect that that has on a child’s mind… can be absolutely shattering.
Eating disorders and body dysmorphia was just a normal topic. And when I mean normal I mean… it was normal to encourage those around you to Micromanage their food & hate their bodies.
There are lots of types of eating disorders. There are lots of types of bodies. Being skinny doesn’t always mean you are healthy. Being fat doesn’t always mean you are unhealthy. Yet – the world tends to see these things as very black and white. And the psychological effects go unnoticed because it’s “normal”. Being afraid of your body is unhealthy. Treating your body like a punching bag until you have nothing left is unhealthy. Hating yourself should NOT be normal.
I went through a lot of different tactics to try and get my body into the state that everyone thinks a female body “should” be. And I ended up in the hospital. Maybe these effects of my actions were somewhat indirect, but I’m not blind to my own demons.
I treated my mind & body terrible and my body & mind responded. I was always sick. Always fighting off infections. I ended up being in the hospital for two weeks on IV antibiotics fighting off an infection. I almost lost my leg… possibly my body.
Now, yes, I could have gotten infected and sick regardless of the state of my body… but I see now that I had treated my body so badly, it didn’t know how to fight off anything. And this was the end of the line.
The infection weakened my bones and I then broke my knee. I was in London studying dance… and my body was ripped out right from under me. It was terrifying. I had no idea who I was without dance.
And so I was still. I had to be. For a long time. It’s what my body needed. I had to listen. I couldn’t escape. I had to learn how to appreciate my body for whatever it was at that moment because tomorrow it could be gone or different.
Being skinny can’t make you happy. Being happy can bring you health. And your health can bring you happiness.
When we base the status of our body on our worth… we are disconnected.
This was this biggest road bump for me and I am still learning from it. Everyday. My body isn’t the same as it was seven years ago. Four years ago. This morning… everything is constantly shifting and holding on this unachievable expectation about our bodies is constantly taking our minds away from the present.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I do lots of different things. I work lots of different jobs. I act, I dance, I teach, I choreograph, I sing… all of it informs the other and it all feels like a channel running through me that I have to share.
Because of what I went through with my body… teaching the arts as a healing modality has been a main focus of mine. For myself and for my students and for my community of people I love.
I teach singing and we meditate and do breathe work. Sometimes we dance 🙂
I teach dance, but I always emphasize taking up your space. Loving your body for what it is capable of in this moment. Celebrating your weirdness.
I guide movement meditations so that you can find your own movement and own body without the fear of self-judgment.
I chose characters that are in line with what I believe the world needs to see.
I choreograph without hesitation so that I am allowing my gut instincts to guide my creativity rather than judging every tiny thing I do.
I choreographed for a music video about a year ago and one of the dancers said that it was extremely therapeutic movement and they felt a release from doing the project… that is what I always strive for. Finding new aspects of yourself that you didn’t know were there or have been asleep. Dig in and love all of it.
What were you like growing up?
I was constantly moving and dancing and wiggling and creating. I was shy but once you opened me up, I wouldn’t stop. I think I’m still like that…
- Singing lessons •$70/hour
- Movement Meditation & Reiki Workshops • $45 at Sadie’s pole studio in Redondo beach
- Dance private’s $80/hour
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: Instagram.com/sarahjbartholomew
Samuel Drake https://instagram.com/