Artist Profile: Hannah Westbrook

Hannah was my first friend while pursuing my undergrad at UC Berkeley. I am in constant awe of how many different kinds of projects she can juggle whilst still being an open and generous artist and friend. She is an incredible performer and collaborator and sweet friend. 

 Hannah Westbrook is a dancer, choreographer, and stage manager in the Bay Area. She graduated from UC Berkeley with BA degrees in Dance and Theater & Performance Studies, and was awarded the Rosalind Schneider Eisner Prize (dance), and the Departmental Citation. Hannah has been privileged to dance with Tim Rubel Human Shakes (current company member), Christine Germain & Dancers, Julie Freeman, Sue Roginski, The Defiance Project, and works at UC Berkeley by Lisa Wymore, Ashley Ferro-Murray and Katie Faulkner. Her choreography has most recently been seen onstage at PianoFight for FaultLine Theater’s Girlhood, and Shiner.

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To really think about what growing up means to me, I needed to start at the beginning… or the

moment I first thought I might be a grown up. I was 5. Or maybe 6. Or whatever age it is that

you lose your first tooth. What a big deal losing that first tooth was! It was a major event that had

me completely inconsolable, because I was utterly convinced that I had grown up now, and

needed to move out of the house!!

Well, I’ve gotten a few years under my belt now and realize that growing up isn’t something that

happens all at once. It didn’t happen when I lost that first tooth, or started my period, bought

alcohol, or graduated college, or any major event in between. It seems there is no single event

that occurs and makes you a true grown up, as much as the childhood version of myself thought

this was true. The first time I learned about cultures in which coming of age rituals occurred, I

felt a little like I was missing out… what a wonderful thing, to have a celebration welcoming the

youth into the adult world! Yet as nice and succinct as a ceremony may seem from the outside, I

know now that a ritual can’t bring all the experiences, knowledge or maturity that create my new

definition of adulthood… it simply opens a door and allows a person to begin their own search

for what the title means.

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In many ways, my open door is the dance studio. It is through dance and creativity that I have

begun to learn and discover who / what I want to be when I grow up. That question was always a

terrible one for me, a shy kid who didn’t really have a clue (and cared far too much about what

people thought). Yet when I’m embodying ideas and creating new movement, using my body

and mind to its fullest capacity, I don’t need to answer that question. I’m already there. And

being pushed into new, exciting territories by those I share the studio with.

Working with these artists to create “Grown Ups” has been a wonderfully personal and

gratifying experience. We have so much freedom to play, to experiment, and throw away the

conventions of what “should be”. We have the freedom to let movement and ideas flow freely,

and allow growth take it’s time… an element that any process of growing up really needs.

Catch Hannah perform in GROWN UPS September 30-October 1st, 2015 at SAFEhouse Arts. Tickets here and here