Mark Morris Dance Group's Sarah Haarmann on the "Life-Changing" Moment She Joined the Company
Sarah Haarmann stands out without trying to. There is a precision and lack of affectation in her dancing that is very Merce Cunningham. Her movement quality is sharp and clear; her stage presence utterly focused. It's no wonder she caught Mark Morris' eye. Even though she still considers herself "very much the new girl" at Mark Morris Dance Group (she became a full-time member in August 2017), in a recent performance of Layla and Majnun, Haarmann seemed completely in her element.
Company: Mark Morris Dance Group
Hometown: Macungie, Pennsylvania
Training: Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts and Marymount Manhattan College
Turning point: After studying at dance studios in her hometown, Haarmann auditioned for a performing arts high school in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "That totally changed the game for me. I realized this was something I wanted to do forever," she says. "I took ballet and modern, composition, dance history, improvisation. And I choreographed there too. And it was free."
Becoming part of the company: "First they hire you as an apprentice and see how it goes and then, after six months, you have a meeting with Mark. He really invests in people, so he wanted to know whether this was something I could see myself doing for a while. It was intimidating at first, but in the end he said, 'You're great. I'm hiring you.' "
"Sarah is imaginative, flexible, unmannered, portable and fun."—Mark Morris
Before Morris: Haarmann danced with choreographer Pam Tanowitz, and she took part in several workshops held by the Merce Cunningham Trust. "I got hooked, taking class there. The technique is so good for you, and the workshops are brilliant."
A new life: Getting into a company like MMDG "is life-changing," says Haarmann. "I have health insurance. I have a dressing room. I don't have to schlep all my stuff around the city. Before, I couldn't afford anything. Now I have a life."
Photo by Ian Douglas
Working with the boss: Shortly after she joined, Morris created Pepperland, a dance inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The creation process "was fun at times, and hard at other times. He created it so quickly. One of the biggest things that astonishes me is how fast he is. You have to be really present all the time."
Challenges: Morris is famously musical, and expects his dancers to be too. "That's been one of my biggest learning curves," says Haarmann. "This idea of being completely in sync with the music is new for me."
Free time: "I'm a big reader. Right now, I'm reading two essays by James Baldwin. It's amazing how what he was writing in the sixties rings true even today."
What Morris is saying: "I first saw Sarah dance, expertly, in a performance of Pam Tanowitz's company. Pam's work is very specific and meticulous and hard to do well. So is mine. Sarah is more planes than curves. We are still new to each other, and I like having her around every day."
Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.
At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.
When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.
"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
When Hollywood needs to build a fantasy world populated with extraordinary creatures, they call Terry Notary.
The former gymnast and circus performer got his start in film in 2000 when Ron Howard asked him to teach the actors how to move like Whos for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notary has since served as a movement choreographer, stunt coordinator and performer via motion capture technology for everything from the Planet of the Apes series to The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and this summer's The Lion King.
Since opening the Industry Dance Academy with his wife, Rhonda, and partners Maia and Richard Suckle, Notary also offers movement workshops for actors in Los Angeles.