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D. Sabela Grimes

People @ Goddard

People @ Goddard

My primary focus is to facilitate an experience that inspires a dancer to become a “whole bodies” listener.

Real name

D. Sabela Grimes

People @ Goddard

Former Faculty

Biography

I am a multi-hyphenated artist whose performance/dance work intends to transform speech into a physical energy and sound into a visual performance with movement that is electric on transmission.  I teach dance/choreography and perform internationally as a vocalist, dancer and poet.  I use a mix of social/historical observation, self-examination and spiritual exploration to “familiarize the mystery and mystify the familiar.”  My creative process openly aims to create performances that touch each viewer/observing participant at various levels of spirit, body, mind and emotion.  Each creation is a living non-linear narrative offering that smears the line between performer and audience.  To be straight up … by the end of the day … I’m simply a storyteller, a wanderer, a wonderer, an ordinary ‘round the way mystic.

Although based in Los Angeles, I hail from the notorious flower fields of Lompoc, California.  I have a MFA in Dance/Choreography from UCLA’s renowned World Arts and Culture Department and a BA in English Literature from UCLA as well.  As an undergraduate I focused on African-American Literature & Cultural Studies.  I feel especially blessed to have studied African Cosmology and African Literature in translation with Africa’s Poet Laureate, Mazisi Kunene.   Shortly after graduation, I journeyed to Soweto, South Africa.   After 15 months, I returned to the United States and landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In Philly, I established a solid reputation in the city’s synergetic soulful performance poetry/spoken word community; a community of artist known for initiating and leading the so-called “Neo-Soul” movement.  At this time I gave birth to Ovasoul7.  Under this moniker I have written and recorded with a diverse array of artists such as Ursula Rucker, DJ Spinna, The Society, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Deetron, and Motorcitysoul, to name a few. 

It was during this period that I began to playfully craft passionate and inventive solo performances that exemplified a fluently functional union of language, sound and movement.  Cut to: transition into dance and theater.  My first stage show was with Homer Jackson’s Multimedia Hip Hopera, The Three Willies.  Subsequently, my acting career blossomed into local and regional theater productions, as well as, film and television.  During this time I joined Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM). While working with RHPM, I became a principal dancer and the company’s Education/Outreach Coordinator.  I had the privilege to co-write the script, collaborate with an amazing group of dance artist, and compose two songs for RHPM’s award winning production Rome and Jewels.  With 3 Bessie Awards and 2 Alvin Ailey Awards, Rome & Jewels has performed for sold-out audiences nationally and internationally and is the longest touring Hip Hop dance theater work in American history. 

I have conceived, written, scored, choreographed and presented several dance theater works BULLETPROOF DELI, Philly XP, World War What?Ever?   and 40 Acres & A Microchip: Salvation or Servitude.  Currently, I am sculpting a dance theater/installation/film experience entitled XX to XY: A StrangeHer Perspective that primarily explores the living myths of masculinity, maleness and manhood and how these myths are circulated and remixed orally and corporeally by both men and women.   I am also composing for David Rousseve’s current dance theater creation, Stardust, which proves to be a beautiful and informative compliment to this exploration. 

My scholarship primarily focuses on corporeality in regards to the global dissemination of black cultural products via human agency and cyber-space, which means I watch a lot of YouTube. Interested in the physical and meta-physical efficacy of Black dance practices my dance workshops celebrate the history, traditions and spiritual elements of Afro-Diasporic social dance; affirming that this language of movement, rich in innovations and African aesthetics, labeled “Hip Hop” dance, has deep roots and a broader sense of purpose than we tend to acknowledge.  In addition to exploring the subtle nuances that typify Black dance; my primary focus is to facilitate an experience that inspires a dancer to become a “whole bodies” listener.  I seek to encourage people to balance and build a relationship with the music, the moment and those around both visible and invisible. Let us move from the inside out in conscious surrender, holding on to letting go, turn it up while gettin’ down.  I created a technique-based approach to learning Black vernacular dances and dance practices called Funkamentals, which is at the core of The Funkamental Movement Experience. 

So, for some, this bio is a bunch of “informative” data.  Hopefully, for others, it’s an invitation to dance, write, sing, compose, story-tell and/or play in the creatrix with me.  BlessUP!

Educational Background:

MFA in Dance/Choreography, University of California, Los Angeles; BA in English Literature, University of California, Los Angeles.

People @ Goddard

Learn more about D. Sabela Grimes

People @ Goddard