Sarah Adriance was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in nearby McLean, Va. Before coming to Juilliard, where she earned her B.F.A. in dance in 1995, she studied at the Washington Ballet. After several disastrous retail stints (at an imported Indian linen store where she kept buying tablecloths and later at a children’s clothing store), she started working at Juilliard in 1997.
How long have you worked at Juilliard, and what do you remember about your first day?
A few years after I graduated, I was hired by my former teacher, Maria Grandy, who was then director of the Summer Dance Intensive, to preview videotapes and process applications. I worked sitting on the floor in the Admissions Office, and when my summer dance gig was up, I was hired by Mary Gray, the director of admissions at the time, to be an admissions assistant. It was a brave choice on her part because I didn’t know how to type and I was too shy to talk to people on the phone. She was very patient while I learned. In 2007, I was hired by Larry Rhodes to be the administrator for special projects in the Dance Division, and he was patient with me while I learned how to administer projects both special and dull. I received two educations at Juilliard. The first my parents paid for; the second was given to me by the kindness of my colleagues here.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I’d like to work in the scene shop or the costume shop. I’d like to be able to make something tangible—something other than a stack of paper. If I can’t be trusted with a band saw, perhaps I would work in Liberal Arts. Mitchell Aboulafia [director of liberal arts] has the best office.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
The summer before my senior year at Juilliard, I taught ballet at a small strip mall dance school in Virginia from 7 a.m. to noon, and then from 12:30 to 7 p.m., I worked on commission as a salesperson for a furniture store in another strip mall. It was a miserable summer but I paid off all my credit card debt and bought a plane ticket to see my boyfriend (now husband), Paul Whitthorne (Drama, Group 24), in Tucson.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
I’d go home and putter around the house and read. Then I’d pick my daughter up from school and have a picnic in Fort Tryon Park with my family. This fantasy day has beautiful weather.
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists. If that applies to you, how do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
I was an uncoordinated and generally clueless dancer, as I remember it. It’s better for everyone that I’m now safely behind a desk.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
What book are you reading right now and what can you tell us about it?
I’m near the end of Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black, which is about the relationship between a medium and her assistant and the sometimes banal, sometimes violent intersection between the living and the dead that is their daily life. Mantel wrote the extraordinarily brilliant Wolf Hall, which won the 2009 Man Booker prize.
Where would you most like to travel and what draws you to that place?
I’d like to go to Morocco. Reading lots of Paul Bowles in my early 20s made a huge impression on me. I’m fascinated the density and color of the cities—cobalt, teal and ruby red—against the serene backdrop of the dessert. We go to Maine or Vermont in the summers, and I love to watch my 4-year-old daughter, Agatha, experience the joys of rural life—leaving the front door unlocked and going barefoot.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
I appreciate not having to drive everywhere. I was a terrible driver. I once took my aunt’s minivan and drove it into her garage without first opening the garage door or moving the trashcans and surfboard in my path. I also appreciate that all 8 million of us have a place to fit within the context of the city.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I am only serious 10 percent of the time.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I have 37 pairs of shoes in drawers under my desk, divided into bins by season and counted for the purpose of this profile. I also have a blog, littleediesfashion, wherein I exploit my daughter’s fashion choices.