K I M
G R I E R - M A R T I N E Z
A native New Yorker, Ms. Grier-Martinez received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the prestigious Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, now the University of the Arts, one of the top undergraduate dance programs in the United States. She is a dancer, performance artist, master teacher, educator and choreographer. Ms. Grier-Martinez is presently Artistic Director of Rod Rodgers Dance Company and proceeded to step into the role after Mr. Rodgers’ passing in 2002.
Kim Grier-Martinez made her debut at the esteemed Metropolitan Opera House as the outstanding, principal dancer in George Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess", choreographed by Carmen de Lavallade in 1990. During the same time Kim Grier-Martinez had the opportunity to choreograph for the Off-Broadway production, “The Dark Star From Harlem”, directed by Glynn Borders and Mario E. Sprouse. She has performed as a guest artist, in Missouri, with the Wylliams-Henry Dance Theater and in Philadelphia with LEJA Dance Theater. In New York City, where a majority of her career is based, Ms. Grier Martinez has performed with dance experimentalist Blondell Cummings; Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Company; Forces of Nature; Duane Cyrus Company; Alpha-Omega Dance Company; Footprints; Urban Dance Collective and the Rod Rodgers Dance Company. Her solo performances have included works by Richard Rivera, Sean Curran, Kayoko Sakoh, Milton Myers, Tee Ross, Lonne Morretton, Eleo Pomare, Fred Benjamin, Talley Beatty and Heidi Latsky. She has also had the privilege to perform solo theater with the distinguished, award-winning novelist, playwright and director, Bil Wright.
Ms. Grier-Martinez was a long time featured soloist with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company; a supportive hub for development and maturation of black dancers. For almost two decades, under his tutelage and pedagogy, Mrs. Grier-Martinez assisted Mr. Rodgers with creative projects including mounting and rehearsing company choreography, and teaching master classes with an emphasis on helping dancers transition their craft from studio to stage. Upon his passing in 2002, she emerged as the Artistic Director for the Rod Rodgers Dance Company.
As Artistic Director, Mrs. Grier-Martinez believes in the interrelatedness of political, scientiﬁc, and cultural aspects of society. She is committed to sustaining and improving the ethnic, social, and geographic diversity, and curricula that reﬂect global awareness, which is portrayed through the Company’s repertoire. She has led the company to perform on stage in, libraries and community centers around New York City as well as festivals on mainstream stages at home and abroad. Mrs. Grier-Martinez also led the company on tours in Japan at the Kenmin Koryu Center in Kagoshima; the 10th Anniversary of Keya's Fun Approach Dance School in Bermuda and the Sea Island African American Heritage Festival in St. Simons Georgia. Mrs. Grier-Martinez also has a long standing relationship of performing and choreographing for the renowned Middle Collegiate Church Arts Ministry in New York City.
Ms. Grier-Martinez’s commitment to the ‘interrelatedness of worldwide political, scientiﬁc, and cultural” aspects of life, furthers the founder’s belief that all people should be able to enjoy dance and performance. She seeks diversity when recruiting dancers. The same desire for diversity is reflected in Mrs. Grier-Martinez’s teaching style as well. Ms. Grier-Martinez takes into special account her students’ various abilities and backgrounds so that each student arrives at their authentic self.
As a young adult Ms. Grier-Martinez started out as track runner and found herself participating in community events that called for dance activities. It wasn’t until she took her first technique class in high school where she decided that she wanted to become a professional dancer and use dance as a tool to work with young people.
This special passion for teaching young people has manifested by using dance to mentor and guide them from childhood to young adulthood. In 2002, she established the Rod Rodgers Youth Program and Ensemble, which teaches the traditional study of Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Dance-Theater, Hip-Hop, Tap, Composition, Conga Drumming and West African in a school year program and summer intensive.
Ms. Grier-Martinez served as the Director of Dance Programs at the Harlem School of the Arts as well as Rehearsal Director and Choreographer for three of the school’s resident dance companies. Additionally, she has worked as a dance specialist with children through the Bronx Arts Ensemble, Alvin Ailey Summer Outreach Programs/Mach Ailey Camp, Hudson Repertory Dance Theater, and Jacksonville School of The Arts. She continues her work with ArtsConnection where she incorporates poetry, music and elements of media in the classroom.
Ms. Grier-Martinez’s teaching credits include Oswego State University, Parents Promoting Dance & Community Folk Arts in Syracuse, New York, New Orleans, Des Moines and Iowa. She taught Master Classes at California State University in Humboldt, Long Beach, Dominguez Hills and Arcata, Metropolitan School for the Arts, Long Island University in Brooklyn, Black College Dance Exchange (various locations), Florida A&M University, Howard University, Adelphi University and SUNY Plattsburgh, Syracuse University and Arts-In-Education residency programs in the Tri-State Area.
Her choreography includes the Off-Broadway production, "The Dark Star from Harlem,'' a tribute to Josephine Baker which premiered to raving reviews at La Mama Ellen Stewart Theater in 1990 and then reopened November 2019, and the Miss US Virgin Islands Caribbean Queen Pageant in St. Croix.
Ms. Grier-Martinez has served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, Middle Collegiate Church Arts Ministries of New York City, the Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and as a judge for the Hal Jackson Talented Teens Final Pageant in New York City, Connecticut and St. Croix. She choreographs and volunteers at Good Shepherd Church Young Ministries as well as Middle Collegiate Church, whose mission is social action and interfaith dialog for the purpose of justice and reconciliation. Among other recognition, she is the recipient of the Lila Wallace Award, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Teacher’s Recognition in 2005-2006, 2004-2005 and 2009, the Linda Janklow Award, Downtown Arts Young Artists and Leaders 2011 Mentor Award and was honored by the Renaissance Movement Ensemble of the Harlem School of the Arts Alumni in 2012 and awarded a “Certiﬁcate of Appreciation” for Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser For Birdie’s Nesting Place in 2013,
2014, 2016 & 2017. In 2018 and 2019 Kim Grier-Martinez was invited to set choreography on ZCO/Dance Project, a contemporary dance company dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities. Her work was featured in ZCO’s spring showcase in 2017 and 2018 as well as the Abilities/Expo and YAI Central Park Challenge.
In 2018, Kim Grier-Martinez and Rod Rodgers Dance Company were invited to participate in Middle Collegiate Church’s CBS Christmas special: “A Bold New Love”. The event aired on Christmas Eve and
Mrs. Grier-Martinez’s biggest reward and contribution to society through dance, is the fact that students from the initial Rod Rodgers Youth Dance Program have become teachers at the studio and are now training and mentoring incoming students at the studio.
The Rod Rodgers Youth Dance Program, is scholarship based and charges the lowest class fees in the city. No one is turned away for lack of funds. Additionally, components of the program are taught at public schools throughout the ﬁve boroughs of New York City. As a result of their training through the Rod Rodgers Youth Dance Program, students have been accepted to performing arts high schools and colleges and have achieved awards and national recognition for their scholarship, service and leadership.
The studio has acted as a second home to students where they’ve developed strong bonds with their peers and adults, as well as taken away life lessons. They spend hours talking about what Ms. Kim said, what Ms. Kim did and what Ms. Kim has taught them! For Ms. Kim, it’s about more than dance. It’s about connecting with youth to reach them at multiple levels and using dance to support their hopes and dreams.