Getting to Know Sarah Friswell

by Nicole Harris

The second stop on my adventure around the country this fall was Tampa, FL where I visited with friend and former student Sarah Friswell. Sarah is now a junior at the University of Tampa where she is a sociology major and an applied dance and dance theatre minor. While I was visiting Sarah had just started working on her first piece of choreography which was performed at UT's Fall Dance Happening in October.

We have interviewed a lot of choreographers from a wide range of backgrounds. I thought it would be nice to interview someone who is just starting out on her choreographic adventures.

You can check out a video of Sarah's choreographic debut here!

NH: Who are some of you
r favorite choreographers?/Who would you interview if you had the chance?
If I had the chance I would interview Savion Glover. I suppose it's a little cliche but when I was little I had Sesame Street where Savion tapped and I had my babysitter (and future tap teacher) Nicole Harris. These two were probably my biggest influences in the tap field if I'm going to be completely honest.

NH: Now that you're dancing in college do you have any advice for dancers trying to find their path after high school?
If they love to dance, they should make a way to let that happen. I'm lucky to have a pretty good program at my school that gives me a lot of opportunities but I try to dance as much as I can whenever I can. Even if that means dancing for a project in Visual Literacy or searching for guest artists teaching master classes in the area. If you love it, do whatever it takes to keep doing it. And use your resources, you don't have to do it alone. One person will be able to connect you to a million more who can also help.

NH: This fall you choreographed a piece for Fall Dance Happening at school. Can you tell me a little about it?
SF: The piece was to the song Turn Me On by Norah Jones. It was a combination of lyrical style and rhythmic tap where each dancer was showcased separately and then danced together in their own styles but performed similar looking moves. The whole idea in using the separate dance styles was to add to the idea of people all having different emotions and different ways of showing their emotions. These dancers were feeling something and they needed a way to express themselves in a unique way, that was my idea behind it but you can take from it what you will.

NH: How did you feel it turned out compared to your original idea?
I was very happy with the piece overall. I really only saw it as a duo so it worked out that only one of the dancers I cast was able to participate, so she and I danced it together.

NH: The piece involved both lyrical and tap. What was it like trying to combine the two styles?
For the parts that were separate it wasn't difficult at all. The hard part was trying to make my tap steps resemble the lyrical steps I had set on my dancer. It was much easier to go from lyrical to tap. I played around a lot on how to make my steps travel as much and I just made sure our steps were similar but definitely not exactly the same.

NH: What did you feel your biggest challenges in choreographing this piece were?
SF: The challenges were those days that you just really had no ideas. I felt bad when I didn't feel like I had enough good ideas to move on. I didn't want my dancer to get bored with my piece but when it was one of those days, we just really perfected what we already had to make the piece the best it could be.

NH: Are there things you think you will do differently for the next piece you build?
I think working with one dancer was a great way to start my career as a choreographer and now I feel that I could create a larger piece next time. I have a lot of different ideas so I guess I just have to be flexible.

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