Ms. Kim, as she’s known to her young students, is a force to be reckoned with. Disciplined and caring, ArtsConnection teaching artist and Rod Rodgers Dance Artistic Director Kim Grier-Martinez has the ability to transform a classroom of students into a company of dancers.
Her artistic roots and aspiration to work with young people began at an early age. As the seventh of eight children, she was influenced by her parents’ love for the arts. Her father had a passion for listening to jazz and he and Kim’s mother regularly took their children to see shows around New York City, including dance performances by Rod Rodgers Dance Company, Alvin Ailey and Pilobolus. Kim had an unconventional introduction to dance instruction. She did not start until high school. Slated to play the flute at Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall Academy of Arts, she found herself in a dance studio on her first day of ninth grade. The mix up turned out to be fate—it was the first of many dance studios she would set foot in. The music and the movements affected her in a way that left her wanting more. She pursued dance at the University of the Arts. After college she immediately immersed herself in the NYC dance scene, attending workshops and auditions and socializing with other dancers. She eventually took both of her passions—dance and her hope to work with children—and became not only a teaching artist but also the artistic director of Rod Rodgers Dance Company.
Ask any of her students and they will be quick to tell you the impact she has on their lives. They are motivated to attend school each day, to do their best in their classes and to be good citizens of New York City. For Kim, teaching is more than just dance lessons. It is about connecting with young people and using dance as a catalyst to support the hopes and dreams of each student she works with. Often times in her teaching practice, she is faced with students who are shy, quiet, unwilling participants. She welcomes this challenge and patiently works with those students by being sensitive and cognizant of their needs. She says that the key to getting through to reluctant members of a group is to establish trust, to make sure that the student feels like they belong there: “What motivates me to do this work, to be a teaching artist, is when I can help a young person to understand that giving up is not an option; to use their brains to figure things out; to see the smiles and excitement when a student recognizes his or her own accomplishments; to help them enrich the lives of others; to inspire them to be imaginative and creative beings so that their work has a positive impact on others; and for them to want more out of life.”
With 20+ years as an ArtsConnection teaching artist, her students represent a diverse group of young people including English language learners, and her work has placed her in various classrooms and school auditoriums across the City. Kim has worked as a lead dance teaching artist in ArtsConnection’s Common Core and the Arts program at The Earth School and currently leads ArtsConnection’s Young Talent Program at Central Park East II in Manhattan, as well as the after-school musical theater program at MS 266 in Brooklyn.
Value your work and work ethics, trust your guts and intuition. Follow through and demonstrate clearly what you believe in and know that it is important to bring out the best in each individual student.