Meet Sarah Valesano

As a NWDT company member, Sarah Valesano is a shining example of positivity and resilience, and it is evident when you see her perform onstage. Sarah’s hard work is never ending. In rehearsals, she is always eager and devoted to practice, practice, practice till she reaches that next level of mastery. She participated in the very first Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) Dance Challenge competition to be held in the U.S. in 2015, and went on to compete in the 2016 R.A.D. Dance Challenge competition in Vancouver, B.C. Later in the summer of 2016, she attended the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School in York, England where she had the opportunity to train with renown professional dancers from the Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet alongside her fellow company dancer and classmate, Lauren Wattenburg.

During her years dancing with NWDT, Sarah’s stage presence has continued to deepen and reflect a rich range of artistry and technique. She has been a wonderful role model for younger dancers and her peers alike, as she leads by example with hard work, determination, poise, and grace. We wish her well this performance weekend, and while we will miss her presence here at NWDT, we look forward to seeing all she will accomplish in her future endeavors!

We invite you to join us this weekend for A Festival of Dance where you, too, can enjoy and share the great joy Sarah and all our NWDT dancers, as well as our guest artists – the MAC Company Dancers, will bring to this production!

 

When did you join NWDT, and where do you train?

I joined NWDT four years ago in 2013. I train at June Taylor’s School of Dance.

What is your favorite role in A Festival of Dance?

Rehearsing “Danse Manu” solo from La Bayadère for A Festival of Dance 2017

My favorite role is my solo called “Danse Manu” in La Bayadère! It is a very joyful dance that fits my personality. The whole solo is me dancing around, trying to balance a jug on my head, which has been challenging but a fun experience. It is a very unique role that I have never done before, and I look forward to performing it.

What do you love most about performing?

After all the rehearsals and practice before the performance, my piece becomes engrained in my muscles. So, when I perform, I am able to relax and enjoy the music and movements as I dance. While the music plays, my body seems to just follow the music without any concerns. When this happens, it is an amazing feeling.

Who are you thankful for and who inspires you the most?

I am extremely thankful for my family who is my #1 support system. Always cheering me on through my years of dance, my family has genuinely cared about my interests. My dad is always involved in my dance life, either backstage, or asking me detailed questions about ballet on our way home from dance. My mom cheers me on through stressful ballet exams, tough roles, and travels alongside me for encouragement.

Sarah and Lauren performing in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 “Snow Scene” | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

Aside my wonderful family, I am thankful for my best friend and fellow dancer, Lauren Wattenburg. I can always count on her for support and a good laugh while at the studio. Only being friends for a few years, we have travelled the world together, been considered as twins by many, and have become the best of friends. Lauren inspires me daily by the way she is always striving to be a better dancer. We both know how to push each other to reach goals and to grow in our dancing.

I am extremely grateful for Miss June! She has challenged me to become a great dancer and committed hours upon hours to helping me perfect my technique and artistry of ballet. Miss June is a big reason why I love ballet. She knows how to encourage me, make dancing fun, and is always looking out for my best interests.

Lastly, I am inspired to dance by watching videos of the Royal Opera Ballet and other companies. I look up to Natalia Osipova, Darcey Bussell, Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb, and other ballerinas for motivation.

What has been your favorite role during your time at NWDT?

My favorite role was the Sugar Plum Fairy. Growing up, that has always secretly been my dream role. Last December, I was able to perform this role in NWDT’s Nutcracker Tea. It was definitely a difficult dance, but the opportunity to work so hard and perform it on stage was a dream come true.

Performing Sugar Plum Fairy in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

What is your favorite company memory?

There are so many amazing memories I have had in company, but one of my favorite times is the long break in-between two shows. I love being with all the girls while we eat our dinner and talk. We always put on warm fuzzy socks, wrap ourselves in blankets, and then rest in the auditorium before another show. It is such a fun time to be together and laugh as a company.

What is on your mind as you prepare for you last NWDT performance?

As my time with NWDT wraps up, I only can think of how I have been so incredibly blessed! These past few years with the company have created so many fond memories and experiences that I will always cherish. Though it is sad to leave, I cannot help but smile. My life has been made so sweet because of the lessons I have learned, and the friendships I have gained because of NWDT.

As I begin a new chapter in my life, pursuing a career in nursing at George Fox University, I still plan on taking ballet classes in my spare time between my studies. Although I am not seeking a career in ballet, dance will always be a great part of my life.

 

Tickets for A Festival of Dance run $12-18 ($10 for youth)* and are available at nwdt.org/tickets. Showtimes are April 8 at 7pm to April 9 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

*Performance week special offer: Get one free youth ticket with one adult ticket purchase when you enter discount code “freechild”.