As a dance teacher at Taft, Sarah Surber’s perspective is unique.
“There are some students I see in the classroom every semester for four years,” says Surber. “I don’t think there are many teachers outside of the Arts who can say that.”
The constancy of contact—the continuity of the connection—allows Surber to get to know her students well.
“I see changes not only in their dancing, but in who they are,” Surber says. “I see a process of self-discovery as they find themselves. Hopefully a piece of that is their identity as a mover or dancer.”
Now in her fifth year at Taft, Surber teaches all levels of dance, from the introductory Dance for Everyone, to advanced classes and independent tutorials. She choreographs the fall musical, directs the winter dance ensemble, and stages a student showcase at the end of each semester.
“The reason we take class is so we can perform,” says Surber, “so that we can express ourselves more fully—so we can, individually, have more within ourselves to speak from. Taft students have a lot of wonderful thoughts and emotions and perspectives; they have a lot to say, and this is the time—and a way—for them to say it.”
Surber hopes that everyone in the Taft community, not just the students in her studio, can be touched by dance. In addition to bringing professional companies to her classes for workshops and residencies, Surber weaves opportunities into the daily fabric of school life through Morning Meetings, performances, and open workshops.
“I want to show the Taft community what dance can be,” says Surber. “I do one type of dance, but there are many, many more. I want students to be aware of the possibilities, to show them that all dance is art, that all dance has something to communicate—a real purpose. Bringing different dance companies to Taft gives our students a different perspective. It exposes them to people who are different than me, different than their teachers, and who have different experiences in life—experiences that come to life and to light through dance.”