Sara Hoenes has had quite the career as a dancer. From apprenticing with the Alonzo King Lines Ballet, to performing as a member of the Steps Repertory Ensemble for two and a half years, to being a Radio City Rockette for the last four years with many more jobs in between. This Oregon native and University of Arizona graduate is making new waves in the dance world.
A few years before moving to New York City, Sara was nursing an injury while working at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance when she first got a taste of outreach work, teaching dance classes to underprivileged youth. When she began dancing with the Steps Ensemble here in NYC, the company was traveling to South Africa to participate in an exchange program in association with the Global Arts Initiative and iKapa Dance Theatre. While there, the Ensemble performed and taught dance classes to children in the townships. Not knowing what to expect, Sara says that this beautiful city looked like any other, until you turned down a street and were surrounded by shacks upon shacks for as long as you could see. “It was a big realization for me”, Sara noted, “and really put into perspective how much opportunity there is in the United States compared to some other countries around the globe”.
The trip was such a success that it happened again and this second time around, Sara said she had a sort of “light blub” moment when the children greeted the dancers by doing some of the moves from the piece they had performed the last time the children had seen them! It made her realize how much of an impact something you may think is so small may actually have on a person. From that moment on, Sara has been fulfilling her obligation to give back and contribute to the support of the arts for people of all backgrounds. “Why stop now?”
Upon her return to New York, Sara started a community engagement project at the Hudson Guild in collaboration with the Steps Beyond Foundation, the non-profit arm of Steps on Broadway. Five mornings a week dancers volunteer their time teaching creative movement classes to preschool children. With funds for the arts, and therefore, school programs constantly under attack, it’s important to do what you can to donate your time in an effort to support arts education.
Sara’s advice to dancers, and people in general that want to get into community work, is to really find out what you’re passionate about and start researching local non-profit organizations that you can become involved with. Whether it be teaching dance or working with animals, if you feel strongly about something, you can make a difference. She suggests checking out the website www.newyorkcares.org to find out more information on how to begin your outreach journey.
What’s next for Sara? Aside from her dancing, she will be heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo to volunteer and teach dance classes at a new girl’s school and will be attending graduate school for International Affairs. The possibilities are endless when you’re passionate and driven…and Sara is the perfect example of this!
“That’s what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” -Simone De Beauvoir
-Steps On Broadway Intern