Dancer to Dancer

Sarah Lane Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

Sarah Lane as Clara the Princess in The Nutcracker (photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)

American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane charms audiences with her bright energy and crisp technique. The San Francisco, CA, native first started dancing at age 4 at a local community center, and at age 7 started training in Memphis, TN, at the Classical Ballet Memphis. Her family later moved to Rochester, NY, where she continued studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2002, she was a YoungArts Foundation winner in dance, allowing her to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2003, was made a soloist in 2007, and was promoted to principal last fall. Recently, she originated the role of Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Catch her later this spring during ABT's Metropolitan Opera season. —Courtney Bowers

Dear Sarah,

Do you remember when you were a little girl in Memphis, and you didn't care why or how, you simply danced? You got lost in another world where you could create something beautiful, no matter how imperfect.

Now, you're in the real world. It's OK to be afraid, but you're stronger than your fear.

You're going to have to learn how strength and humility go hand in hand. You're not perfect, but you're enough. Stop judging yourself to the point where you're defeated. You never liked the spotlight, so when you step onstage, let God's grace cover you. You're moved to dance because you are His and you are already loved. You have nothing more to prove.

It's easy to get caught up in yourself, especially when you have to look in the mirror all the time, or when you want to please every critical eye. You'll never please everyone, and trying to will only tear you down. People will say things that aren't true and do things that aren't just. Before you react, remember the grace that you've been given and give it back to others. Be humble, gracious, and caring.

Lane as a teenager in "Cinderella" (photo by Nancy Sands, courtesy Lane)

Working your hardest and trusting God will guide you through the darkest days. No matter what, persevere. There is light ahead. That kind of faith may require more patience than you ever thought possible.

Keep learning! You can always improve. Strive to wring out more creativity and more inspiration, even when you think you can't. You're an artist, so create. You're human, so share your experiences and feelings. You're alive, so enjoy every moment. Nothing lasts forever. If you give your whole heart and your whole soul to what you love on- and offstage, you'll have no regrets. If you look beyond yourself, you'll find your balance. And if you're grateful, you'll be happy.



A version of this story appeared in the March 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter to My Teenage Self: Sarah Lane."

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