We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Sneesby and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sarah, what do you want people to remember about you?
Performance art fades. It is alive for a brief moment in time, during which actors, technicians, and audience members are participants in a once-in-a-lifetime event. It would be easy to say that I want my legacy to be the creation of amazing shows that leave an impact on the world, but the reality is I want more.

Our industry is filled with people who have been conditioned to sacrifice everything “for the art”. They give up personal boundaries, time with families (or even having a family), and are willing to accept directors and creators that are abusive, inappropriate, or unprofessional simply because “they make good art”. I want my legacy to be part of the team of new directors and theatre-makers that change this perspective.

I want to be remembered for instilling respect, full body autonomy, and collaboration in every space I walk into. I want to be remembered for creating rehearsal spaces that are fun and enjoyable as well as effective. I want every actor who works with me to walk away at the end of a show more “whole” than when they first entered the audition room. Of course I want the actors to remember the magic that happens on stage when this process works, and of course, I want my brand of movement-instilled theatre to make a name for itself, but what I want more than anything, is for this process to feed the sparks so that in 10-15 years time what me and my company are doing is the standard for every production and performance instead of the exception.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always loved telling stories, it is as quintessential to me as breathing. Words are amazing, but movement speaks the truth. I began my path as a dancer, who did theatre on the side. Then in college I did theatre, with dance on the side. Post graduation I began to discover that my skillsets of seeing a 3-dimensional perspective of the stage and the action on the stage were ideal for Directing and Choreographing works. So, gradually, I transitioned from performing on stage to watching others perform the work I led.

I think most performers will tell you that this life is not easy; but it is simultaneously the only option we have. Not because we are incapable of other career paths (I myself have a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and spent time as a designer and engineer in Oil & Gas, it’s what brought me to Houston), but it is the only option because it is what makes our heart sing. I spent the first few years here in Houston essentially living two lives: the daytime was spent engineering, while evenings and weekends were dedicated to rehearsals and teaching classes. In 2018, I began to realize that this was not sustainable and something had to give. Like any calm, rational person, I chose my art, or rather, my art chose me.

My husband and I had months of deliberations back and forth, and the only conclusion we could come up with was that I needed to pursue my passion full time and see what happened. So that is what we did. I walked away from a good job, good health care, and certainty to discover who I was and what I could make out of the opportunities presented to me. I started production managing for a theatre during the day, and continued picking up projects as a choreographer. I learned that many of my engineering skills actually transferred directly into the technical production side of theatre, and many of my project management skills would make myself successful as a freelance artist as I had the knowledge of how to run a project from beginning to end (and what is a theatre performance if not a project). The hardest lesson I have learned along the way is how to discern when a seemingly good opportunity is actually an unhealthy opportunity for me as a person and as an artist.

I have had to learn how to listen to more than the words being used to describe a project to determine the ethos of the people directing or producing the work, and have had to gain the courage to say no to several opportunities that, on the outside looked amazing, but on the inside were led by a team that pedagogically does not know how to treat fellow creatives with respect. When I finished my MFA in Movement: Directing and Teaching from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I came back to the United States (and Houston, specifically) with a whole new set of tools and a desire to change the rehearsal process, and begin to create an inspiring, transformative, and collaborative space for theatre makers to practice, hone, and establish their craft. As such, in addition to maintaining my work as a freelance creative artist, I also founded my theatre company: Creative Movement Practices to do just that.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston has so many different activities it is hard to narrow down what I would do, but the joy of that is with so many things to do, regardless of the weather there is an option!

NASA, Galveston, Moody Gardens, The Museum District, and the Houston Zoo are always top on my suggestion lists, but so is walking through the Centennial Gardens, watching a show at Miller Outdoor Theatre, and buying an iced coffee or Kolache and walking up and down Heights Boulevard or 19th Street and venturing into the antique shops.

If my friend has never been to Houston before, chances are high I would introduce them to Velvet Taco, Rodeo Goat, Buffalo Bayou Brewing, and Lupe Tortilla’s. We would spend a day around Discovery Green, possibly brunch at MKT Bar.

We might see a show from one of the fabulous theatre companies that perform at the MATCH, or possibly the ballet, opera, or symphony with a late night dinner of a slice of Frank’s pizza.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout would go to the person who instilled and trained my love for dance, Ms Anita Johnstone. She is now retired, but I danced at her studio from first grade all the way through finishing high school. She taught me to dance, but that is miniscule in comparison to the life lessons she led me through along the way. She taught me to move with my entire being, but to do so with humility, grace, and compassion. She inspired creativity and instilled an inquisitive nature that has served me well in all aspects of life. Without her love, compassion, and guidance, I would have never become the woman I am today.

Website: www.creativemovementpractices.com and www.sarahsneesby.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/creativemovementpractices/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeMovementPractices/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeqwnuoCw6jG5Msh363JQGw/featured

Image Credits
Primary Image: Ludo Des Cognets Other Images: Katherine Rinaldi, Pin Lim, Heather Armijo

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