Sarah Frangenberg has been dancing for as long as she can remember — and perhaps even longer than that. Her mom, Sydney Frangenberg, says Sarah danced around in her pregnant belly throughout the whole production of “The Nutcracker.” As a toddler, she constantly walked on her toes like a prima ballerina. Sarah officially started dance classes as a 3-year-old at Kansas Dance Academy, and she hasn’t stopped dancing for the last 17 years.
“I just loved performing,” Sarah said. “I was constantly putting on shows for anyone who would watch (mostly my parents) — dancing, singing, making up stories. If I could put on a show for someone, I would.”
The 20-year-old Kapaun Mt. Carmel graduate now studies dance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Sarah’s love of performing has contributed to her success in the dance industry, and recently it helped her land the lead role in the independent film “Lift Me Up.”
Sarah auditioned for the movie last year in Los Angeles, and it premiered at the San Diego Film Festival last month. “It was an incredible experience,” Sarah said. “It was so cool to get to see how everything works and how much goes into making a movie.”
In the movie, Sarah plays a stubborn 16-year-old girl named Emma, who is struggling with the recent loss of her mother. Emma’s passion for dance provides an outlet for her grief, helps her mend relationships and ultimately allows her to heal.
“Emma was a complex character, and it took a lot out of me,” Sarah said. “The days were long and tiring, but so rewarding because of how much of myself I put into her character.”
Sarah starred alongside notables Shane Harper, Todd Cahoon, Chris Browning and Kathryn McCormick. Dance fans know McCormick from her third place finish on the televised competition “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2009, and she has since made a name for herself as a professional dancer and actress.
Sarah and McCormick have been friends for the last two years after meeting at a DanceMakers Convention, where McCormick teaches contemporary dance. “She was my person the whole time I was in L.A. filming the movie,” Sarah said. “It was so good to have her there as my support system and encourager. It was also great to dance with her again, because dance is the reason we met and became so close in the first place.”
The dance and acting worlds may overlap, but Sarah said acting is not like dancing. “With dance, we get instant gratification. We know if we did well or poorly, if we looked good or bad. With filming a movie, you have no idea until you see the movie. You don’t know which takes they’ll use or which shots you look best in, but it’s out of your control. It requires a lot of vulnerability, which dance does too, but in a different way,” she said.
As for Sarah’s performance in the movie, you will have to watch and see for yourself. Her mother Sydney, who teaches at Kansas Dance Academy, gives it two thumbs up.
“We were bursting with pride, nervous as to how she would do and ended up crying through the movie the first time I saw it,” Sydney said. “She had done such a good job! We were humbled by the opportunity she was given and so grateful for the amazing experience.”
Having a dance teacher as a mom may have contributed to Sarah’s love of dance, but Sydney said God has everything to do with Sarah’s talent. “She doesn’t just dance, sing or act — she does it with a passion that comes from her heart and soul. It’s that passion that draws you in and makes you want more. And it’s that passion that drives her. I think she would tell you she doesn’t just want to dance, she has to dance — it’s who she is,” Sydney said.
When Sarah graduates from UMKC, she wants to be in a professional dance company, possibly in Chicago or New York. In addition to performing, she eventually would like to follow her mother’s lead as a teacher and choreographer. As for acting, she has no official plans to pursue that further as of now.
“Dance is an act of my soul,” Sarah said. “It makes me feel whole and beautiful. It makes me feel emotions and express anything I want. It makes me feel like I am doing what I’m supposed to — like I’m glorifying God, like I’m sharing love, joy, hurt, happiness, pain, art, creativity, everything and anything. It’s where I feel home.”