About Safiyyah Dance Company

by on November 30, 2017

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Learn more about Skeleton Crew‘s Movement Director, Safiyyah Rasool.

About Safiyyah Dance Company

Dominique Morisseau’s ability to weave hip-hop music and rhythm into the narrative of her work is part of what makes Skeleton Crew truly come to life. In our production, the stamping plant, which serves as the play’s backdrop, becomes a living, breathing character in its own right when factory sounds begin blending with J Dilla inspired beats and workers’ daily routines transform into choreographed movement. To help give authenticity to this electrifying atmosphere, Actors Theatre has the pleasure of working with the fabulous Safiyyah Rasool. Rasool is the co-founder of Safiyyah Dance Co., a local dance studio, and has been very involved in the Louisville community for quite some time. As Skeleton Crew rehearsals began, we took a moment to learn more about her.

Rasool is originally from Jeffersonville, Indiana, having gone to elementary and middle school in the area. She started her dance journey as a street dancer, appearing at parties and talent shows. But she never took classes or sought out formalized dance training in her youth. An ardent lover of all artistic disciplines, Rasool moved to Atlanta in 2002 to study photography. Little did she know, however, that her life was about to take an unexpected turn.

“I was actually working out at this gym and stumbled upon dance classes for adults—you know, hip-hop,” Rasool said. And thus, her formal training in dance began. Rasool went from taking dance classes at a Gold’s Gym to studying at the Atlanta Ballet, adding jazz and ballet to her dance repertoire. She stresses that at this time, her focus was on learning technique, not teaching classes as she does now. “But before I left Atlanta, someone asked me to do a dance class at a kind of orphanage home,” Rasool said. “I like challenges, so I did it. I ended up hosting a talent show where they did whatever they wanted—rapping or singing or dancing. It was pretty cool.”

In 2007, Rasool moved to Louisville permanently. “I just kind of settled in and worked for The Kentucky Center. I remember a woman named Julia Youngblood helped me get my name out there. People started hearing about me. I started teaching at libraries, renting out studios—wherever anyone wanted me, I would go. I never turned a job away at all. It felt good to teach dance to everybody.”

Not long after that she created Safiyyah Dance Company with her co-founder, Venus Ludlow. “We decided to open up a business in 2012. October will be our fifth year running it. It’s been good. We love it. We offer classes for adults and kids,” Rasool said. Safiyyah Dance Company teaches all styles of dance, including ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and break dancing. “My goal is to have a multicultural studio where we teach everything: salsa, modern dance, African dance,” she added. “I want to teach all styles.” Styles of dance Rasool is currently interested in learning more about, and maybe eventually teaching at her studio, are the lindy hop and Bollywood dance.

Rasool’s favorite style of dance is hip-hop. “With hip-hop you can mix everything with it—contemporary, ballet, jazz. It’s such a free form that it’s forever growing. With ballet, there are no additional [techniques] being added; it’s set. The same for jazz. The same for contemporary. With hip-hop, if someone wanted to give a technique book for it, it would be crazy huge and it would have to be renewed every year because there are so many styles that are always changing. People are always recreating it.”

It’s clear, then, that Rasool is very passionate about what she does. “There’s something about the arts that I just really, really love. It connects for me in all kinds of ways,” she said. In addition to dance and photography, Rasool has also studied music and English. So, working with Actors Theatre is right up her alley. “I’m super excited about connecting with Actors and both of us being open to this beautiful show, Skeleton Crew. The idea of coming together and collaborating—I just love that feeling.”

For Rasool, getting the word out and exposing people to new art is like spreading love. “I’m like my dad, I like to preach a little bit,” Rasool said at the end of our conversation. “I think it’s super important to spread love and for that to be our main focus—spreading love and enjoying happiness. We need to respect individuality. Everything is just a beautiful rainbow.”

We’re right there with her. Actors Theatre is proud to offer complimentary tickets through the Community Ticket Grant to various organizations in Louisville. These tickets are offered to community groups who may not otherwise be able to attend the theatre on their own. Through this grant, we have offered Skeleton Crew tickets to organizations such as the Leora Brown School, Providence House and Shawnee Youth Coalition.

If you would like to learn more about Rasool and her studio, or perhaps sign up for a dance class with her, please visit safiyyahdance.net. Actors Theatre will also be hosting a movement workshop led by Rasool on December 2. For more information, please visit ActorsTheatre.org.

Purchase tickets to see Skeleton Crew today!

Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

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