Sarah Pippin is proof there’s so much more to an explosive performance than big dancing. She tears across the stage, moving in and out of impossibly low lunges and balancing on a relevé so high she looks as though she may take flight. But this 16-year-old can also take an audience’s breath away with a simple hip roll, building tension in the stillness before she erupts yet again.
Despite Sarah’s explosive stage presence, on the inside she’s actually quite Zen. “Before I perform, I remind myself of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Then, I leave it all behind,” Sarah says. “Onstage, it’s just me and dance.”
Raised in Raleigh, NC, Sarah began dancing at age 3 and competing at age 4 at Dance Attic. At 8, she moved to CC & Co. Dance Complex, where she’s been training and competing ever since. Sarah doesn’t remember a life before dance. Her younger sister also dances, so it’s always been a central component of the Pippin household.
In many ways, Sarah leads a normal life: She’s a full-time student at her local public school, Heritage High. But she keeps herself busier than the average teen. Immediately
after school, she heads to the studio for four to five hours of training. Weekends are reserved for competitions, conventions and rehearsals. “Sometimes we get a weekend off,” Sarah says with a laugh, “but not all that often.”
Hard work pays off, and Sarah has three national titles to show for it. She won New York City Dance Alliance National Mini Outstanding Dancer at 11. At 13, she was named both NYCDA’s Junior Outstanding Dancer and The Dance Awards’ Teen Best Dancer.
In 2013, Travis Wall offered Sarah a unique opportunity: While her classmates at Heritage High dreamed of spring break from their desks, Sarah traveled to L.A. to train with Shaping Sound. “It was wonderful to watch the creative process from a professional perspective,” Sarah says. “I left inspired to go home and apply what I’ve learned to my own choreography.”
This summer, Sarah is attending The Juilliard School’s intensive and NYCDA Nationals, and she plans to apply to colleges in NYC during her last year of high school. But the rest of Sarah’s future is unwritten. “When I go to a Justin Timberlake concert, I think, ‘I want to dance with JT,’ but when I go to a Cedar Lake performance, I think, ‘I want to dance with Cedar Lake!’ ”
“Sarah has a deep connection to movement and an inherent beauty that comes from a pure, selfless place. She’s one of the most dedicated, hardworking and immensely talented dancers I’ve had the fortune of teaching, and one of the kindest souls to ever grace my studio.” —Christy Curtis, owner of CC & Co. Dance Complex
Birthday: December 7, 1997
What she’s listening to right now: “Here Comes the Sun,” by the Beatles
Who would play her in a movie? Jennifer Lawrence
Best advice she’s ever received: “Step back every once in a while and remind yourself: It’s just dance, it’s what I love to do.”
She won’t leave the house without her…“My mom would say my iPhone!”
Dance idol: Lauren Adams
Favorite dance movie:Step Up Revolution. “I love Misha Gabriel.”
Favorite food: “Cookies, burgers, fries…basically junk food in general.”
If she could be a superhero, her power would be: “I’d love to know what others are thinking about me…”
Performer she’d love to work with: Peter Chu. “I’ve worked with him once or twice, but I’d love to train with him more consistently. The way he moves is so interesting and unique.”
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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