030: Invoke the spark of transformation, Sara Zalek of Butoh Chicago

“Whenever there’s a dare in my life, I say, “Oh yeah? You’re going to dare me? Then I’m going to show you that I can do it!” ~Sara Zalek, on creating the first Post-Butoh Festival in Chicago (after being told it could never work)

We are in a moment…

I discovered Sara Zalek’s work through my Edwin Ruiz (my audio engineer and founder of Mondo Machine) when he was producing video for Butoh Chicago and again during a multi-media experience of Expanded Cinema when he was collaborating with Full Spectrum Features.

Sara’s performance that night was the highlight of the evening. Edgy, uncomfortable, mysterious, beautiful –– she integrated a dance between rigid and fluid, slow and manic body movement along with a colorful analog video experiment projected behind her and electronic and acoustic music accompanying her highly improvisational experience that somehow was both coherent and evocative.

This was a collaborative piece called Still Life with Hanna Brock and Sara Goodman and, in fact, a lot of Sara’s work is collaborative and “in the moment,” exploring the life journey, full of ups and downs and dark and light.

She seeks to challenge or provoke her audience with the question: Are you going to embrace your whole self? Are you going to have memories and associations while watching this performance that have this potential for transforming your way of being and thinking in the world?

We can be anything at any time through our creative thought process. ~Sara Zalek

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • How Butoh dance practice exposes and celebrates our shadow side and challenges us to reveal our whole selves
  • Collaboration & improvisation as part of Sara’s process
  • The role of the arts in education and the importance of being a lifelong learner
  • How Sara didn’t believe she could be an artist when she was young

I didn’t believe that I could be an artist because to me artists existed in museums and they were dead. And they were these big epic things that I was obviously never going to be. ~Sara Zalek

  • Going back to get an MFA in Art in her 30s after studying business & marketing
  • Impostor syndrome & feeling like she would never perform again each time a performance didn’t go exactly right.
  • The role of failure in her art

No performance for me is ever the final finished work — it’s always just the process of my discovery. ~Sara Zalek

  • The role of risk in art and offering the gift of risk-taking with a positive outcome to your audience
  • How working in a business environment gave her a level of professionalism that many artists never get to experience
  • Creating Butoh Chicago and the Post-Butoh Festival
  • The web of income streams Sara generates to support her art and how she integrates it all into her daily practice
  • Business consulting for artists
  • Regional Dance Development Project through New England Foundation for the Arts and Chicago Dancemakers Lab Artist Award

An artist can never get too comfortable. If you’re too comfortable than you’re probably not pushing anymore and really then are you making art or are you just reproducing something that makes you comfortable? ~Sara Zalek

  • Embracing the shadow self and overcoming impostor syndrome by recognizing that self-doubt is a passing feeling — it’s “just me unsure in the world” — connect with the positive, remind yourself what IS working and just keep challenging yourself

To make work feel like it’s moving in a direction that’s forward, it has to be cultivated a little bit every day. ~Sara Zalek

  • How Sara discovered Butoh in the first place
  • Why Butoh is relevant right here and now and what emotional work it can bring up for you as an audience member or as a participant
  • The April 2017 Post-Butoh Fetival: Battles SS3 featuring:Mari Osanai (Aomori, Japan) is an independent dancer, choreographer, Noguchi Taiso teacher. She is based in Aomori, Japan. Her workshop focuses on Noguchi Taiso combined with the influences of her early training in Tai Chi, western dance methods, and traditional folk dance. Watch a bit about her here.Ken Mai (Helsinki, Finland) has been teaching, directing, and collaborating with acclaimed dancers, actors, musicians, sculptors and visual artists all over the world. His background includes Butoh with Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata, German expressionist dance styles, Noguchi gymnastics, martial arts, singing, zen, and philosophy of yoga sutras.

    Paul Michael Henry (Glasgow, Scotland) is a Butoh performer and organizer behind UNFIX, a Glasgow-based festival of live performance, dance, film, installation, workshop and debate that wants to unravel the knots in how we’re living.

Connect with Sara…

Facebook * Twitter * YouTube * InstagramWebsite * Butoh Chicago

We are in a moment… How are we going to deal with all that battling? How are we going to still come together over some things rather than fight it out and have the winner and have the loser and all that rift and division? How are we going to change it? First we have to expose it and then talk about it… until we can really get beyond the idea that we can keep conflicting and keep inserting our opinions over listening to others. When are going to start really listening to each other? I feel Butoh creates  that kind of space and environment for all of those things to take place.

Resources, Links & more!

Sara Zalek

Artist At Large

I am an artist and social entrepreneur. Seeking great collaborators for community arts projects, performances, and events. I am specifically interested in bringing people together around transforming ecology and culture through art making. There is nothing I like better than making something really beautiful happen with a group of passionate people.

I am a performance artist, specifically interested in Butoh. I have been practicing and studying with many master level Butoh artists for over 12 years, now teaching and curating events to broaden the visibility of Butoh in Chicago, and to build more bridges internationally through Butoh Chicago: www.butohchicago.com

I am a marketing consultant and personal business trainer for artists. I strategically plan with my clients their business– via goal setting, website development, brands, logos, social media, promotional materials, etc. I have been working in this field for over 15 years.

Sponsored Partners

This episode is sponsored by Betsy Bash, a social media agency who can help make you the talk of the town (in a good way!)

betsy-bash-logo-copyCEO Lauren Ramsey is generously offering FREE 30min strategy consultations (for a limited time) for listeners of The Creative Impostor Podcast.

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This episode was mixed by Edwin R. Ruiz of Mondo Machine.
The Creative Impostor theme music was created by JoVia Armstrong.


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