Dances Made to Order

An interview with our Philadelphia Edition curator, D. Sabela Grimes

7/24/2012 by Kingsley Irons | Comment


Our Curator’s Note on the Philadelphia edition of Dances Made to Order

I was delightfully fortunate in the selection of these amazing artists. Niki Cousineau, Gabrielle Revlock and Raphael Xavier are magnificent exemplifications of Philadelphia’s creative flavor. Niki, and her partner Jorge Cousineau, present dance work that exist as a composition of expressive ideas that subtly suspend the audience in the magic of each multi-sensory moment. Raphael Xavier, plainly put, is on the brink of shifting our dimensional understanding of what’s both conceivable and promising when Hip Hop, Breaking/B-Boying in particular, reveals itself as dance theater. Gabrielle Revlock delivers a stimulating sense of wit, charm and quirkiness in her work with layers of subtext that seem to be hidden in plain sight. I’m beyond excited to see what splashes across the screen from this Philly triad.

What is exciting about the Philadelphia dance scene right now?

Shift. There seems to be a current of change happening . . . again. I recently received rumors about certain key venues, that I’m purposely leaving unnamed, might be either up for sale or changing leadership. Almost instantly, the news brought back memories of Kumquat Studios at 4th and South Street. Kumquat was home to several dance companies. In addition, it was where dance work was created, movement technique and creative ideas where shared, as well as, a place to informally share and show work. Then, a short list of unforeseen circumstances triggered the forced migration of Kumquat Studio to West Philadelphia. At the time, the circumstances and sense of urgency seemed to reveal how and where the Philly dance communities are connected. I won’t bore you with a longer analysis and/or reflection on this moment in Philadelphia Dance History. I’ll just say that it was around this time that I fortified my connection with the dance communities in Philly.

Meanwhile, there’s the constant development and cultivation of what can be considered Philly’s “dance scene” which consists of artists/dance makers that have been quietly, and not so quietly, growing and expanding. Honestly . . . I can’t really call it. The scene in Philadelphia has a personality all it’s own. It’s always been hard for me to put my finger on it. Choreographers and dancers in Philadelphia seem to maintain seemingly fluid conversations between their respective, and in moments overlapping, dance communities and the city itself. The work created and presented in Philly exemplifies how deliciously diverse “the scene” really is. This month’s artists, Niki Cousineau, Raphael Xavier and Gabrielle Revlock give a glimpse into the creative wealth of Philadelphia. However, it’s almost impossible to take a snapshot of their work without also capturing a glimpse of other Philadelphia artists and/or dance companies like Group Motion, Headlong Dance Theater, Philadanco, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Myra Bazell, Kate Wawa, Kulu Mele, Roko Kawai, Paul Turner, Koresh Dance Company, Melanie Stewart, Subcircle just to name a few. Each one, named and unnamed, woven into the fabric of what is and is not a Philly aesthetic. What is and is not a Philly dance scene. I don’t know. I really can’t call it. What I do know is that dance and dance making in a variety of shapes and forms happens in Philly; is happening in Philly. And, “the scene” is a myriad of worlds unto itself.

Tell us about some of your upcoming projects in 2012/2013

Let’s see . . . I’m currently working with Miss Prissy and Lil C (from the film,”RIZE”) on a live theatrical experience documenting Krump’s history called, The Underground. A “first look” performance will take place September 5, 2012 in Los Angeles. I’ll continue to develop some work with Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, and choreographing a 20-minute piece with CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Theater. I also began playing with some choreographic sketches for a new, as yet untitled, dance piece built around 3 duets. I started working on the music last year and I’m in the movement lab right now. Speaking of music, I’m busy creating music for David Rousseve’s upcoming project, Stardust, which is scheduled to premier in January 2014. I’ll release several recordings in the near future under the Ovasoul7 moniker, too. I am teaching Funkamentals at UCLA. Other than that . . . I’m simply keeping things flowing; staying in the Creatrix.

 If we were going to spend the day with you hanging out in Philly, what would we do?

Real simple. First, breakfast at Carman’s Country Kitchen. We’d have to connect with my brother Jacob Fisher because he put me on to the spot . . . and, I actually have never been without him. We would make a few rounds . . . you know, visit my peoples. If you’re lucky I might take you on the BULLETPROOF DELI Tour through North Philly. Show you the inspiration behind the Experiment Earth Triptych. Take you to meet some of the beautiful folks I know in that area, check out some murals, show you some of the intergalactic portals and what not. Intertwined with these visitations we’d, of course, do some more eating . . . scoop up some water ice or gelato at Capogiro on 20th, swing by Govinda’s on Broad and South or link-up with Raphael Xavier and hit up Gianfranco’s. See what’s crackin’ at The Arts Garage or we’d go shake shoes at Sundae, a Sunday afternoon weekly social event with the worlds best Djs spinning house music and Philly’s finest dancers, groovers and party people. Ohhhhhh, there’s soooooo much to do! Soooo, many good people to hang with!

What is your favorite drink and where do you get it?

Listen, my favorite drink is my mother’s iced tea. Now, if you’re asking about my favorite drink in Philly? That would be this watermelon iced tea type of drink that Koko of Crimson Moon fame used to make. It was flipping amazing.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I plan to become a nude navel model. I have one of the sexiest outies on the planet. I’ve also found out that your belly button can be used as an inter-dimensional travel device. But, you have to reach the rank of Navel Officer first.

More About our Curator:

d. Sabela grimes is a multi-hyphenate artist/educator. His performance work, choreography and pedagogical approach reveal his invested interest in the physical and meta-physical efficacies of Black dance practices; and proactively seeks to expand beyond contemporary notions of Hip Hop culture and aesthetics. He created a technique-based approach to learning Black vernacular dances called Funkamentals. Sabela holds an MFA in Dance from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures Department, has performed and taught internationally, and continues to work with Rennie Harris Puremovement.

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