We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Steben and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
This question was the one that resonated with me the most mostly because as a teacher I am trying to instil the same habits in my students but also help them develop their own habits towards a successful career!
I developed the habit of discipline through playing on sports teams when I was younger. I played soccer, and a bit of Rugby before I decided to audition for a dance crew in Montreal. These team sports taught me a lot about collaboration, discipline and leadership.
Showing up and consistency are also habits that I developed that I feel helped me succeed. One of my best friends Jess Cummings really helped teach me about the art of showing up and putting the work in.
Another habit I have that I feel helps me succeed is staying in touch with where I am from, and giving back to my community as much as I can while still filling up my creative cup. We can’t pour from an empty cup, so in order to succeed we must fill ourselves up as much as possible and then share as much as possible!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I generally don’t talk about what I am most proud of for some reason. I guess I always just know that there is always something to keep working on or grow in. In the last couple of years though I have been a bit better at acknowledging my successes along the way whether big or small!
I think what sets me apart from others is my drive to excel in multiple disciplines and create my own opportunities. I really am someone who isn’t going to wait for someone to give me an opportunity or a job – I will create it for myself. I also do everything with the next generation in mind and my community in Montreal. Even when I go out to LA for extended periods of time to pursue dance, every step I take is to make sure I bring back knowledge and experience to my community.
I am most proud of a couple of things along my journey. The first one I am most proud of is being able to experience working with Marty Kudelka on the movie Trolls World Tour. For someone coming from Montreal, who needed to apply for my visa three times before being approved – this was a big moment for me. I dreamed to work for Marty Kudelka who has choreographed for Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and more not because of his impressive resume but mostly because I love his choreography and his calm energy. If you know me you know I have a love hate relationship with LA. For some reason my heart has always been in Montreal. I am more of an east coast kind of person and LA was always this overwhelming place for me to be. Getting to know Marty and the people who surround him, genuinely made LA a better experience for me and actually made me feel at home. I don’t think any of them know that, but they really actually made it easier for me to live authentically in Los Angeles.
The second thing I am most proud of is the dance training program I created back home. I have been teaching dance since I am 16 years old. Started out with teaching very young kids, moving my way up to more advanced level classes and finally being able to teach classes at studios like Movement Lifestyle and EXPG in Los Angeles. All of this experience in my own personal dance career and simultaneously in teaching drove me to create a training program for my home city. The Montreal dance community is beautiful. Like every city, we have ups and downs, but overall the artists that come out of this city blow me away and have since I first started out. I wanted to contribute with a program that gives a different angle – we train both in industry/commercial areas as well as freestyle and street dances with specialists in the city. We are currently working on a full length dance film which I am extremely excited to share.
What I have learned along the way and what I want people to know about my story is that everyone, including myself, deserves to have the room and grace to learn, make mistakes, fail and come out stronger. Not everyone is going to get it right all the time. We have to try things out, go after goals and take risks. I learned how to have patience with myself and others along my journey, notably in LA. Success does not happen overnight. Success is a culmination of failures, small wins, lessons and extreme dedication but most of all allowing yourself to live in the process. Too many times I got stuck suffocating my goals and dreams and not allowing myself the space to breathe and be a human being. I also always used to allow people dictate how I felt about myself as a dancer which in turn affected who I was as a person. Learning to let go of this was a turning point for me as an artist.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have a few go to spots that I religiously visit when I am in LA! They may sound obvious to real locals but for me coming from Canada they were real gems!
My absolute favourite spot to workout and a place I recommend to everyone to try out is Prevail Boxing in West Hollywood. They made me feel like family and they are all so kind, funny and passionate about what they do. I literally would drive from Van Nuys which is where I lived for 45 minutes to an hour in traffic to go to their classes. When I am in LA, they are the first place I want to go to always for a great sweat session.
My best friend Jess and I always go to Malibu State Creek Park for hikes. It was really important for me to connect with nature seeing as where I am from you can be in the forest 20 minutes outside of the city and we are surrounded by beauty on a regular basis. I found LA, notably the Valley to feel so unlike where I am from that when Jess introduced me to that hike, followed by a beach day in Malibu…my life changed.
A couple of my favourite coffee spots are Red Window Coffee in Studio City, any Verve coffee spot but I always visited the one in Weho after my boxing class at Prevail ;). You can never go wrong with a breakfast at Vivian’s Millennium Cafe and a visit to Aroma Cafe. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This question is literally meant for me. I love to shoutout the people who have done so much for my career. Anyone who says they did it on their own…in my humble opinion, is mistaken. The beauty of success to me is in the people you meet, connect with and share with along the way.
Some influential people along my journey…where do I begin.
My house dance teacher Marvin Baptiste from Montreal, had a significant impact on how I approach dance in general. I didn’t know it at the time, because I was young and doing as much training as I could, but he set me up to fall in love with house dance culture and music. He also showed me freedom within my own dance. Coming from a heavily choreographed background…to experience this liberation was so valuable to me.
Rhapsody James…Rhapsodyyyyyy James! If you have never heard of her before….you need to go check out this ICON & LEGEND of dance/choreography. This woman is a superhero. She is a master educator and I could not thank her enough for bringing out a light in me I never knew existed. She has a gift of making dancers understand where they are meant to be and shine. I will always have so much gratitude in my heart for her.
There are so many other people I need to list here….but these two have played extremely influential roles in my growth as a human being and an artist!
Felix Desjardins Sarah Steben Lindsay Kennell