Sara Webb: Mormon Dancer

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Sara Webb Mormon Dancer
Courtesy Amitava Sarkar

Sara Webb Bardo was prima ballerina and a principal dancer with Houston Ballet, the company she had been with since 1997. She had performed lead roles in several of Ben Stevenson's classical productions including Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Odette in Swan Lake, Alice in Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella in Cinderella and continued under artistic director Stanton Welch. In between these lead roles, she was pregnant and gave birth to her four children: Joshua, Lillian, Luciana, and Benjamin. She has been able to perform until her fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. [1] With the birth of each of her four children, she had to be back in full dance form within six weeks and prepare for the next performance.[2]

She has also served as a guest principal dancer for The Australian Ballet and Ballet West. She has traveled throughout the world and performed on many stages, including Hong Kong, London, Australia, Moscow, Spain, Canada, and the United States.

A native of Henderson, Nevada, she began training at the age of eight with the Nevada Dance Theater Ballet.

“I was that little girl watching, wanting to be on stage. I wanted to be Clara. So as soon as we could my mom signed up my sister and I for classes. My sister was naturally talented and I was uncoordinated, but I worked hard. It started with one time per week, then grew to six days per week (at the Academy of Nevada Dance Theater)."[3]

At age fourteen, she left home to train at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida. After graduation at the age of seventeen, she moved to Houston where she trained with the Houston Ballet Academy for one year. At the age of eighteen, she was hired as an apprentice with the Houston Ballet, which followed with three years in the Corps de Ballet. She then was promoted to soloist and after two-and-one-half years she became a principal dancer.

Because Webb left home when she was 14, she had to decide to participate in church or not. "Around age 15-16 I made the decision. That was the ‘why’ that would get me to my scriptures or get me to my knees, or get me out of bed when I was too tired. Going to church every Sunday would give me perspective and humble me down.”[4]

There were times when she was punished for her choices and was passed over for a part. “It is not an easy world . . . inside the ballet world can be very ugly. There is politicking, there is a lot of competition, people clawing to get ahead. You can spend years and years trying to correct something in your body, and then they don’t like your personality, or your looks. It’s hard to take.” Webb refers to her “life of highs and lows” as faith building. “I can definitely see the Lord’s hand in all things,” she said.[5]

Sara enjoyed twenty-one years with Houston Ballet and retired in July 2018, two months after the birth of her fourth child. She said she wanted to spend more time with her children. “I made it further than I thought I ever would,” she said. “But the older kids get, the more they need you.”[6]

Sara said she had two dreams, to be a ballet dancer and to be a wife and mother. “I found something I loved more than ballet and I set those goals. Most dancers retire (after having children) but I wasn’t done dancing. I wanted to be fulfilled in my career, prove to the dance world that you can be a mom and still be a ballerina. You can be both. . . . I wanted to show my kids if you work really hard, you can fulfill your dreams.”[7]

She and husband Ryan Bardo are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.