For Sarah Hertig, dance has more meaning than simply moving to the beat of a nineties chart topper. Dancing, much like painting and singing, is an art. Except dancing involves draining practices, bedazzled uniforms, callouses on your already sore feet, first place trophies and fierce competition. Hertig has been whipping her hair and moving her feet since she was three years old. Roughly 80 percent of her life has been spent dancing and performing for an attentive audience. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
A soft spoken individual, Hertig’s dancing life began when she was just a child in Castle Rock, Colo. Immediately, she knew it was her calling and would be an activity that would shape her well into her teens. However, in middle school, she quit dancing for a while to try basketball and volleyball. As much as she enjoyed the sports, she realized that they were not meant for her.
She said, “I was never very good at either sport, and in volleyball after the season had ended, they gave me a special award that looked like an Olympic medal and was engraved. Keep in mind, I was the only one that received such medal. And on the back, the engraving simply said ‘Good Job Sarah.’ It was then when I realized that the whole volleyball thing wasn’t going to work out, so I returned to dance.”
After Hertig returned to dance it wasn’t long before she moved to Montana, a difficult transition. However, Hertig began life in Missoula and transitioned to the 406.
In Missoula, she joined Curtain Up! Company at On Center Performing Arts. She loved the academy which took her to competitions across the country. Soon however, it was time for high school. A Sentinel Spartan. Hertig’s high school experience became a virtual dance routine where each aspect describes a part of her high school experience and the memories she’s made along the way.
The ninth grade began the routine, a fast beat, hip-hop number full of energy and excitement. Freshman year brought the promise of a new beginning and the embarking of a four year adventure. Hertig took drama and quickly fell in love with the theatrical world. She aced her tests and made new friends. She stretched, took a deep breath, and continued to dance along to the music when an incredible opportunity came up. A group of girls wanted to found a new club: Dance Team.
Hertig jumped at the opportunity. Hertig, along with Seniors Paige Lund, Sydnee Nowlen and Holly Lundell, founded one of Sentinel’s fastest growing clubs.
Having danced with Hertig for almost four years, Nowlen said, “It’s an honor to dance alongside such an incredible dancer. She’s always so consistent and loves to add in her own sass and dance moves.”
And this sass shows when she’s performing. Hertig’s blue hair bounces over her shoulders as she moves left, right, forward and backward. As graceful as a gazelle, Hertig doesn’t even break a sweat while she’s dancing. In the blink of an eye, freshman year was finished, and the first stage of her dance routine came to a close.
The next stage started as sophomore year began––a slower, deliberate cadence. A year filled with AP World History homework and a gruelling study of topics that range from Genghis Khan to Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth. That’s when I first met Hertig, in AP World History block. By then, her dancing was starting to pick up. Curtain Up! Company began to travel to places like Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the Sentinel Dance Team gained recognition.
Hertig said, “We had to fight for club recognition. Mostly it was the parents that helped us gain status. During the club’s beginning, we weren’t even allowed to perform at football games. It took some teeth pulling for people to even acknowledge our existence.”
In spite of the work load, Hertig also began to fall in love with her academics, especially drama and plays. Her favorite play is A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, and she wishes she could “be one of Oberon’s fairies” even though she’s “not a dude.” By the time sophomore year came to a close, Hertig was dripping with sweat, aware the hardest part of high school was yet to come.
Junior year, a year filled with Catherine and Heathcliff from AP English and the subjunctive in Spanish 3, promised a year of challenge and hard work. The part of the routine with the most technical aspects, a more specialized and tedious dance. The year also brought the ACT and college searches.
Hertig decided to apply to schools in Florida, which, next to Colorado, is one of her favorite destinations. Making it look easy and effortless, Hertig pirouetted through junior year and all its intensity. By the time it came to a close, she was out of breath. But she pushed forward despite the calloused feet, sore muscles and a brain fried with a year’s worth of knowledge.
By the time senior year rolled around, Hertig was still out of breath but senior year revived the excitement of three years prior––the explosive finale everyone waits for. The dance team, now with school-wide recognition, is one of the fastest growing clubs in Sentinel and Nowlen remarks that “for the first time since its founding, we have more members than the cheerleaders.” Hertig has become one of the mentors for the dance team and helps the freshmen and other dancers learn the spunky routines for the squad. The music begins to pick up and the moves become quick and effortless. Hertig begins to enjoy her classes and the AP curriculums. Senior year presents new challenges and yet, new opportunities. However, as of now, Hertig is moving along to the samba that is senior year, waiting for graduation day. Still months away, for now, Sarah Hertig continues to dance to the beat of life.