Meet Sarah Kinlaw

Sarah is a composer, choreographer, and director based in Brooklyn. She co-operates the Bushwick experimental dance space, Otion Front Studio, and in 2016 co-directed the large-scale installation and choreography production, Authority Figure, at Knockdown Center. She has performed at MoMA, MoMA PS1, Pioneer Works, Miami Art Basel, Mana Contemporary, the Villa Medici in Rome, and starred in Tony Oursler’s Imponderable, which closed Spring ‘17 at MoMA.
Sarah Kinlaw for Passerbuys34.jpg
Jumpsuit, Henrik Vibskov    ;    Necklace, Another Human


I naturally wake up very early and like to have lots of time alone to write and process before the day starts. My clearest ideas come before I'm fully awake, so I tend to push any kind of caffeine back until it's necessary. I usually can't remember my dreams upon waking, so I like to imagine that the authentic feelings that come after waking up are still connected to my dreams. My thought patterns are usually much more forgiving and lighthearted than later in the day. Home life is extremely important to me so I'll also take a lot of time on the backend of mornings to do all my little self-imposed chores, which more or less involve caring for all the plants, my cat, cleaning, organizing, and making it nice.  Simple domestic tasks give me so much satisfaction. With the unpredictable way my day-to-day has been for such a long time, caring for myself and my home at the top of each day feels really important.

On Finding her place in the art world

My art background is broad but stays connected by performance and vulnerability. I moved to New York after high school as an opera singer who had no idea what it would look like to practice full-time in the classical world. I didn't go to a traditional program of any kind, so if something I was studying didn't feel right, I didn't have a whole lot of incentive to keep pushing. I think that's one of the greatest gifts my move gave me early on. It was the ability to look into different modalities while juggling the practical ways to make a living and making judgement calls in terms of how I structure my time, like if a voice lesson is worth the financial investment. Looking way back, I think I overcompensated because of my decision to not study through college. I was searching for validation within the performance and art world here, which is obviously very difficult and very psychologically tricky, especially when you're so young, but I survived.

I try to not draw a distinct line between my productivity as an artist and the validity of how I move through the world with feeling, especially in terms of priority. I think it’s natural for all of us to consider initiative and especially how it sometimes leaves us. One of the things that has helped me most is simply taking the time and space daily to work, no matter what. I do not have space for excessive self-pressure or even self-hate if things aren’t moving along the way I had in mind. I want to enjoy my practice.
— On her artistic process

On Curating

I am a curator by default. My friend group is incredibly talented and I can't help but want to build spaces and events to witness them take over. I run a dance and experimental performance space with six other best friends in Bushwick called Otion Front, and I very genuinely love working with people. I'm naturally somewhat social, but feel so much more at ease and real relating to people through work

On Her favorite books

I keep two book-shelving systems in my house: one with books I've decided to hold on to but don't reference super often and another small shelf in my bedroom for ongoing reminders and inspiration. All of these sit atop the bedroom shelf. I have two Merce Cunningham books. Changes: Notes on Choreography is a look into the working notebooks of Cunningham. You’re able to read through the ways Cunningham sees an issue within certain work and follow how that issue is lifted through the different notes and choreography sketches. Art Performs Life is a fun play-by-play on the lives of two personal heroes, Meredith Monk and Bill Jones. I very much dislike the title of Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon, but it is an incredible resource for vegan, gluten free, raw, wholesome and delicious foods. I file Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer under participatory journalism. It follows Foer while he takes on a sporadic enrollment into a U.S. Memory Championship with only one year to prepare.

On self-care

I do a lot of stuff that could be filed under self-care and therapy, like massages, facials, hair and nail appointments, psychotherapy twice a week, lots of walking, and basic "me-time" stuff. There's a really inconspicuous massage place on Grand and Metropolitan Ave, right off the L train, labeled "Foot and Back" that is really great for cheap massages. Heyday is cool for affordable facials. I recommend Marjorie Wilson there. Brooklyn Psychotherapy on Wilson Ave in Bushwick is fantastic. They really want to make it work with you no matter your financial or insurance situation.

Sarah Kinlaw
Sarah Kinlaw for Passerbuys53.jpg
Don’t let capitalism trick you into believing it will give you what you need in full. Research your body holistically and don’t get behind on medical checkups. Consider the ways you spend your money and always listen to yourself when you add a new product.
— on her tips for beauty and wellness
Sarah Kinlaw for Passerbuys51.jpg
Dress, Everlane    ;    Earrings, Faris

On Wellness

I try to eat a mostly vegan diet with lots of fresh, whole foods and drink plenty of water. At this point in my life, a good sleep and diet seem to sustain me enough, which feels good and isn't something I take for granted. I do take supplements that were recommended by my naturopath after doing some blood-work and research, but besides that, I don't have a strict regimen of any kind. Klaire Labs make a great gluten and casein-free multi and probiotic. I do a D3 vitamin in the fall and winter, which I swear leaves me feeling less susceptible to seasonal depression. Cutting down to little or no coffee was really good for my mind, but everyone is different. Umcka is brilliant if you think you're catching a cold or feel susceptible to one. It's meant to shorten the duration of sickness, but I use it as a preventative and that seems to work really well. I swear by this stuff and always have a bottle of it when I tour.

On Her Beauty Routine

Everyday Oil is incredible. I use this all the time as a moisturizer and the smell is super balanced and pretty.  I really like that Marvis toothpaste. I use the whitening one and it works really, really well. I cover my skin in coconut oil on the daily.

On Her Nightly Routine

I clear my mind and wash off my body. I like to make the room smell nice with some Palo Santo, avoid screens, and get in some reading. If I'm feeling any stress for the next day, I'll write a list or jot down my feelings in a notebook to give myself permission to check-out for the day. I love nighttime teas, especially bedtime tea from Yogi.

Dress, Everlane    ;    Earrings, Faris

SArah's Favorite Record

Dolmen Music by Meredith Monk

Sarah's favorite places

Bad Taste's Jen Monroe hosts pop-up dinners and events

Secret Project Robot for a drink and to meet new people

New York Botanical Garden

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Social Tees Animal Rescue

Local Honey


Flushing, Queens

Mister Dips

Ignorant Gravity with Sigrid Lauren

Otion Front Studio