Tools for Dance and Life: Catching up with Sadie Rothman

Teen Exchange Grad Plays Multiple Roles with Emerging DC Theatre Company

Sadie in Pointless Theatre's 'Minnie the Moocher.' Photo by Gene Carl Feldman.

Everybody gets to grow at Dance Exchange… but some people actually grow up here. A case in point is Sadie Rothman, who recently dropped by my desk to chat after taking a Friday morning technique class at DX. Recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in dance, and now launched on a performance career, Sadie started at Dance Exchange at the age of eight, when she took Youth Exchange creative movement classes with the company’s ever-enthusiastic Elizabeth Johnson. Within two years she was on stage with DX at Jacob’s Pillow, one of several Youth Exchangers who traveled to the annual festival to perform in “In Praise of Animals and Their People,” as part of our multi-city Hallelujah project.

How do you top Jacob’s Pillow? You graduate to Teen Exchange! Starting at age 13, Sadie was initially intimidated by the older, more established teens in the group, but she was quickly embraced. “I felt lucky that I had a supportive, curious group of artists to work with, to make and share dances. Everyone’s voice mattered.” Because Teen Exchange mirrors the structure and function of the bigger DX, participants choreograph, teach, perform, and co-lead in community encounters. Deep experience with these “compositional, creative, expressive, communicative” aspects of dance gave Sadie a leg up on her classmates when she progressed into her dance major at Maryland. “Between teacher training, the Dance Exchange Toolbox, and Critical Response Process, I came away with a lot of the tools that I use all the time in dance and in life,” says Sadie.

Sadie maintained her Dance Exchange ties through her years at Maryland, partly due to DX’s regional influence and active partnerships at the University. She studied composition with former DX dancer Gesel Mason, participated in an intersession course led Liz Lerman (“the hardest thing I took in college”), and danced as a tea server when the University presented the 2010 premiere of DX’s The Matter of Origins. Maryland afforded broader experiences as well , including a residency by the Joe Goode Performance Group culminating in Wonderboy, a dance/theater work featuring “the coolest puppet” in the title role.

Wonderboy sparked an interest in puppetry that Sadie has combined with her dance chops in her current work with Washington, DC’s Pointless Theatre. This award-winning new presence on the local cultural scene combines puppetry, live actors, music and dance. In keeping with Dance Exchange spirit, Sadie is active as both an administrator and performer. She got hooked on Pointless when she was still a student at Maryland, performing in the company’s dada-style Hugo Ball cabaret, which she describes as “super fun, super crazy, and way different.” She recently danced in the company’s Minnie the Moocher and is now in rehearsal for its Sleeping Beauty in which complex puppets will perform balletic movements to Tchaikovsky’s classic score. Sadie’s role is particularly challenging as she’ll be understudying multiple parts – Broadway “swing” style – in the show’s complex three-puppeteers-on-one-puppet choreography.

We’re confident that Sadie’s artistic upbringing at Dance Exchange will be a great asset as she juggles multiple roles in this super cooperative, way interdisciplinary enterprise.

Pointless Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty: A Puppet Ballet runs April 11 through May 13 at DC’s Mead Theatre Lab. For information and tickets see: . Dance Exchange followers can get a $5 discount Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday matinee tickets by entering the code: umdpuppets.

About John Borstel

John’s role with the Dance Exchange encompasses functions in documentation, dissemination, and dialogue.