Sarah "Saza" Dimmick of EPIK Dance Company: 100 Creatives
Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick.
Courtesy of Nightfuse.com Meet the dancer.
Sarah "Saza" Dimmick is always on the move.
And that's no overstatement. Looking over the Mesa-based 34-year-old dancer and choreographer's credentials and day-to-day schedule is nothing short of, well, epic.
The descriptor's fitting on a few levels. Dimmick got her bachelor's in dance education at Arizona State University and is currently pursuing her master's in dance. She also teaches dance at ASU and has taught at Mesa Community College, Glendale Community College, Dobson High School, and Willow Canyon High School. She guest hosted MSN's travel show, Re:Discover - Phoenix, worked as a guest artist and choreographer for University of South Carolina and University of North Carolina Greensboro, created pieces for professional such sports teams as the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury (where she also served as a member and co-choreographer for seven years). She's performed works by David Dorfman, Cliff Keuter, and Yvonne Rainer.
Courtesy of nightfuse.com Dimmick performs a piece she co-choreographed with Angel Castro.
And she co-founded EPIK Dance Company back in 2007 with Luis "Weezy" Egurrola. The street-fusion troupe, which is the resident educational dance company at Mesa Arts Center, made a name for itself winning battles and then turned its focus to presenting original works in theaters. EPIK won the Phoenix Mayor's Arts Award in 2013, and has been nominated for the Governor's Arts Awards for Arts in Education three times.
"EPIK is working on a brand new, original stage show in collaboration with Simply Three, a strings trio that is known for its original works and music videos that blend classical style with popular songs of today," Dimmick says of her current projects, adding that this collaboration, titled Simply EPIK, will at Mesa Arts Center in March of 2015. That's in addition to choreographing floor routines for Desert Devils national gymnastics team and working with the Be Kind People Project, which visits elementary and middle schools to promote kindness.
I am a Phoenix native, born and raised, a fifth generation Arizona native, and a proud Phoenician!! I rep my city everywhere I go, and am proud to be a part of its growth as a cultural hub. I've always said that Phoenix is brimming with talent. Many chose to leave, while I decided to stay. To quote my friend Jenna Lyn Endicott, "Some people choose to move so they can be affected by the culture around them... others choose to stay so they can affect the culture." I feel like I have the best of both worlds here, and it's only getting better.
I make art because -- sounds cliché -- but it's who I am. It's just a part of me. Although I intentionally make art all the time, I have been doing it as second nature my whole life. I live to create, whether it is a dance work, a poem, a video or a painting. Creative work is what inspires and excites me.
I'm most productive when I collaborate. I think through speaking. I appreciate a soundboard, even if they don't say anything back! But I love collaborating with others and building off of each other's ideas. We regularly function this way in EPIK. Often I will act as a facilitator of idea generation and projects. It can be extremely invigorating. It helps when you are working with other artists whom you are comfortable with and respect, like my fantastic co-directors, and our incredibly talented dancers. I'm also most productive when I'm working on a project that I'm really excited about, and... when I have a deadline. I live and breathe the project. It consumes my thoughts at all times. Of course, this means I may not be that productive in other parts of my life. So.... I guess I'm never totally and wholly productive - something always has to give. This is one reason I can't keep a plant alive or my room clean (see next question), but great work takes sacrifice (sorry, Mom)!
Anyone who knows me knows I have an inspiration BEDROOM. In true "artist" fashion, my bedroom is full of books and magazines about choreography, production, hip-hop history and culture, posters and fliers from past projects, documentaries, journals, photographs, graffiti, and a plethora of unlabeled CDs and DVDs that I swear I will get to someday. I also keep notes and pictures from former students and children I have worked with. On a good day, you can find the bed. But I am most inspired by people and their stories, and the contradictions we all face in life. I often call myself a walking contradiction. I think that we all are. In most of my work, I like to show that there are always two sides to a person and their story. We all live in a state of multiplicity and are always changing. I will probably read this article in a week and disagree with everything that I have said. Have I mentioned I enjoy employing humor as well? I love to make people laugh.
I've learned most from my friends and peers, my mentors, and my mistakes. I am constantly surrounded by interesting and talented individuals, many of whom I am blessed to call my friends. The work they do challenges me to think outside the box and always try to reinvent myself. I have had some incredible mentors, from my parents who taught me how to trust God, be strong and compassionate; many ASU professors like Dr. Mila Parrish, who saw something in me, pushed me and helped me discover my passion for teaching; Joani Castillo at Experience Arts School/City of Grace who taught be how to be a great leader and to imagine, dream, and create with no boundaries; and most recently, Marcia Meyer of the Be Kind People Project who is not only teaching me mad businesswoman skills, but also that there are no limits to spreading kindness and doing good for others. As far as my mistakes go, not everything in your life goes as planned. When speaking to young aspiring artists, I tell them that there have been at least three times in my life that I had to completely start over and rebuild, whether it be my work, my dreams, or even my reputation. Although those times were extremely difficult, I didn't give up, it wasn't the end of the world, and it inspired me to work harder, and more importantly, it made me who I am and informed my art.
Courtesy of Barry Gossage "The Phoenix creative scene could use more connection," Dimmick says.
Good work should always come from a place of honesty, even if that means being honest with yourself about being dishonest. Sometimes being dishonest is the point.
The Phoenix creative scene could use more connection. It still blows my mind when I have to introduce two fantastic Phoenix artists. I'll comment, "Wait, you guys don't know each other already? You should know each other!" The Phoenix scene also needs to get more connected with the outlying cities, like Mesa, Glendale, and Scottsdale. It's surprisingly still pretty segregated. We are showing a lot of promise for change, especially with what Mesa Arts Center is doing to try to promote and connect with younger (under 40) artists and youth culture. One thing that would also help not only the Phoenix creative scene, but also the city in general, is better public transportation so that everyone can equally participate in what's going on in all of these areas.