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Name: Ethan “Simba” Graham

Location: Lower East Side, New York

What kind of artist are you: Evolving

How would you classify yourself as an artist and what is your main form of creativity?

I would consider myself an artist who’s consistently in a transitional period of growth. My main form of creativity is dance and movement expression.

What does the quote: “Wind blows the hardest the closer you get to the mountaintop” mean to you?

This quote reinforces the idea that the harder challenges you face in life are a direct result of the consistent growth and evolution you attain in your journey. And I resonate with its reminder that harder challenges you face should be met with nothing less than a harder conviction to push through for what you want to achieve.

How did you begin your journey as an artist and what is it like being a young artist in New York City? 

 I started my artistic journey after joining my first young arts intensive in 2014 “New York Youth Movement Collaborative (NYMC)”, under Ehizoje Azeke and Marguerite Hemmings. The program really sparked my passion for movement and art as a whole and started my discovery of what I define as my purpose. Being a young artist for me is constantly about commitment and self growth. I feel as a young artist I have a commitment to learn as much as I can about the path and responsibility I carry that comes with being an artist.

What has been the most interesting collaboration to date?

 My most interesting collaboration has been with Andre Zachary and Lamont Hamilton’s “Dapline!” production at New York Live Arts. It connected with me because it was my first pro performance, but the theme of brotherhood and adversity was something I connected to on stage. My first krump mentor and family who were monumental in helping me discover my passion were also in the piece with me, which brought a newer meaning to the theme of brotherhood and initiation to the environment with the cast.

 Do you believe it was significant to pursue dance for in College? Why or why not?

 I do believe it was significant for me to pursue dance at Hunter College, because it taught me the value of commitment and dedication to pushing myself physically, as well as how to approach challenges in my path with as open and clear of a mind as possible. Day in and day out I pushed myself to take on any and all material and technique classes thrown at me, which was just as much of a mental challenge as it was physically. Ultimately, it had a key part in evolving my power of will and open mind.

Who inspires you the most? What artists, in any other art form, has also inspired you in your own creativity?

I get inspired the most by those that I work and train closely with. Whether it’s my close mentors, the people I consider family in dance, working and growing side by side with them and being able to experience and witness the growth of those around you is one of the best sources of inspiration for me. 

What would you say, is your main motivation to continue your artistry. Would you say economic, political, intellectual, and emotional motivations can be factored into this main motivation?

My biggest motivation to go forward with my artistry is what I believe to be the eternal drive to want to inspire others. I feel I have an obligation personally to give light and touch lives where I can individually, and being an artist I’m always on a mission to share my gifts with the world.

On the path to becoming an artist, what are two of the biggest lessons you’ve acquired thus far?

 Only one lesson comes to mind that was truly monumental, and that was how important passion and drive are for an artist. I feel as an artist, without a passion to experience and live through your art, you can’t truly experience being an artist. That passion has been my strongest factor before everything else for as long as I can remember. And when all else falls away and gets rocky, your passion serves as that anchor of stability, to remind you of why you wanted to be an artist in the first place.

What do you want your impact on this world to be?

The only impact I’d want is to know that I lived my life touching people’s lives and bringing light to them, that allowed them to get closer and closer to attaining their own success and happiness. I don’t want to be known as the person that has done everything, but if I have the opportunity to inspire someone to do a legendary amount of good, I will do all I can to help them and share my light with them.

In dance, how important is it to have teachers and mentors? How has your experience with that been?

Having a teacher or mentor is definitely important when it comes to understanding the craft from professionals and knowledgeable individuals who set the path for you. My discovery of my passion and pursuit of it started largely due to the supportive group of teachers I had, and still have, from that time period. I do truly feel I have been blessed with great mentors, as the ones I truly hold dear to me and my journey have not only been monumental in my development, but are still consistently there to witness my present achievements. They have truly become family to me.

What do you think is important for a Dancer/Choreographer to survive financially?

I don’t believe I still have a fully developed response to this, BUT, some things I’ve learned along my way are definitely to not be hesitant to take any and every opportunity that comes your way, especially as a newcomer. Earning some experience not only has allowed me to make some amazing connections to people, but taught me more about being prepared and carrying yourself professionally, which are just a few of the traits needed to be a prospering, as well as self sufficient, freelance artist.

Besides dance, what are your other interests?

In all honesty, I am a full time nerd who happens to know how to dance. Since childhood I’ve been a huge lover of all things Anime/Comics/Cartoons/etc., and pretty much anything that was on Cartoon Network/Toonami on Saturday mornings/nights. So for anyone out there wanting to talk to me about the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie but is hesitant because you think I only care about dance related things; LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

Where can people find you on the web/how can people contact you?

You can find me easiest on Instagram @ethansimba !