D. Sabela Grimes, a 2014 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow, is a choreographer, writer, composer and educator whose interdisciplinary performance work and pedagogical approach reveal a vested interest in the physical and meta-physical efficacies of Afro-Diasporic cultural practices. Described by the Los Angeles Times as "the Los Angeles dance world's best-kept secret" and as "one of a mere handful of artists who make up the vanguard of hip-hop fusion," Grimes is considered one of the most imaginative and innovative artists in his field. His AfroFuturistic dance theater projects like World War WhatEver, 40 Acres & A Microchip, BulletProof Deli, and ELECTROGYNOUS, consider invisibilized histories and grapple with constructed notions of masculinity and manhood while conceiving a womynist consciousness. He created and continues to cultivate a movement system called Funkamentals that focuses on the methodical dance training and community building elements evident in Black vernacular and Street dance forms. Previously, Grimes co-authored and performed as a principal dancer in Rennie Harris Puremovement's award-winning Rome & Jewels. He received a BA in English and MFA in dance and choreography from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Rennie Harris' Lifted. Photo by Brian Mengini, courtesy Harris
Dance Magazine reached out to us with the questions: Over the years, how has increased acceptance and visibility on concert-dance stages affected hip hop and its artists? And how has hip hop influenced concert dance?
Our response? Whoa! Acceptance? Visibility? Immediately we knew that any conscientious attempt to unpack these questions would easily exceed the maximum word count. But we also acknowledged that questions like these affect what we do as dancemakers and artist-citizens.
So we interviewed our colleague Nicole Klaymoon and mentor Rennie Harris to contribute to a conversation. We are all multilingual dance artists with our own unique voices in hip hop and street-dance theater. We are from different backgrounds and generations whose work is presented as concert dance and builds on the groundwork of Rennie Harris Puremovement.
Amy O'Neal's Opposing Forces. Photo by Bruce Clayton Tom, courtesy O'Neal