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06 Jan 2024

Sarah Golding and Yukiko Masui are both dancers and choreographers. Alongside their individual work, Sarah and Yuki co-founded SAY, born from their ambition to rediscover the creativity that can get lost through formal training and to challenge the elitism sometimes associated with contemporary dance. Current Associate Artists with DanceEast, SAY premiered their piece the album as DanceEast’s autumn season opener in 2022. Amongst other work, they have also created Break it Down for Trinity Laban and SAY Something for National Dance Company Wales.

Sarah and Yuki’s relationship with DanceEast started before they became Associate Artists. Yuki says: “I feel my first contact [with DanceEast] after Laban was with a family show called MOKO, but I rehearsed at DanceEast ten years ago, and we had a show there as well.” She says, however, that the relationship has deepened since SAY was formed: “it’s been really great with SAY. At the beginning, when we started working together… we went to DanceEast to ask if we can rehearse there. We did our R&D there, we filmed a bit in their green screen studio. We premiered this piece [the album] there too, collaborating with a local rapper called AYO.” Sarah added that “from the get go we felt an incredible amount of support from DanceEast, even when our ideas were not anything off the ground. The first thing…was when we collaborated with some dancers from South Africa during the lockdown. DanceEast were interested in us, and Lucy (Bayliss, Head of Creative Programmes) and Brendan (Keaney OBE, Artistic Director and CEO) were super interested in what we were doing. We’ve always felt such a warm welcome.”

Prior to their collaboration as SAY, Sarah and Yuki had different entry routes into dance, before both joining Trinity Laban’s Transitions Dance Company. Sarah “started dancing in Dartford when I was probably about 12, doing a bit of ballet, jazz and tap, just for socials.” Her first look at contemporary dance was when she took a place at Trinity Laban. “I thought ‘oh wow, this is a completely different world to what I’m used to!’ It was amazing to be submerged into this contemporary world. I graduated after completing ‘Transitions’ (the Masters programme there) and then went out to audition. I danced mainly with Lila Dance in Chichester, did some other jobs here and there. I did a play at The Royal Court but the main job I had was with STOMP. I joined that show in the West End in 2016 then went on tour with that until Covid.” Yuki said she was “like any other kind of teenage girl, I was watching videos of a Japanese boy band, copying their moves on VHS. I was so into it! They were doing hip-hop style. I started going to a hip-hop studio in Tokyo. My mum randomly took me to a Ballroom Latin class because she was doing it when I was 16. I got into Uni, which was a performing arts dept, and then I met a contemporary dance teacher who went to Trinity Laban, and she really blew my mind; it completely opened up how I see dance. I fell in contemporary dance because of her.” Yuki added “I do think that Sarah and I, we are choreographer, movement director, musical theatre too. Variety is how we survive!”

Throughout our Move Be Moved 40 campaign, we have been sharing the impact dance has on people locally, regionally, and nationally. Talking about why they think dance is so important in people’s lives, Yuki says “it’s not just for dancers, we all have it in us. The fact that you play music and do movement, it is just such a physical space… It’s such a good medium for keeping people healthy, training your muscles. Keep working on it! You actually get stronger, more flexible. Dance has a mixture of those things, aerobic benefits for heart rate, flexibility, and so on.” Sarah adds “there’s no right and wrong with dance. That means anyone can access it and do it. It then becomes about doing it because you believe in what you’re doing. That is so powerful in how you think about your body; not thinking about shapes but just about movement. Just living your life can become different because you are dancing. Everyone can enjoy it for what it is.”