Dance Mogul Magazine Exclusive Interview | Sakina Ibrahim

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DMM: What was the inspiration behind your book?

Sakina Ibrahim: I have been teaching dance for about 10 years, while I was doing research on black youth and dance empowerment in Graduate School, I found my students confronting some really challenging life obstacles. I was giving them advice and kept saying “I wish someone would have told me this”, then it finally hit me to write this book. I realized that there were so many images and messages to young girls of color that are not uplifting and positive message of love, encouragement and power. I became dedicated to putting the work I do through dance education and my personal path of self­-development into words. I had the heart to really serve in a positive way and help build a dialogue between girls and women so that we can heal and learn to love ourselves, and accomplish our life goals.

DMM: The words art, education and empowerment are very big now, especially in the black community. How important is it that we embrace each for our progression and survival?

Sakina Ibrahim: Art, Education, and Empowerment are vital to the black community, every single person has a cultural obligation to contribute in their own way, especially to the children who are brought up in a society where the media celebrates black violence, degradation or complete exclusion of their experiences. Some of us live a harsh reality with no real explanation or platform to work through it. At least that is how I left growing up. Some of the life conditions the youth are dealing with are unbelievable circumstances, anyone who works in public education knows what they are up against. We have to know the truth about the power that is within us. We can discover this truth through the Arts which speaks and moves the spirit, through Education which molds and influences the mind, and Empowerment, which is recognizing that the power is “INSIDE” of you, then showing it through individual and collective action. I think these words Art, Education, and Empowerment make who we of the African Diaspora are inherently are…what is big right now is that people are finally interested in re-­discovering it. This is the means to claiming life and reclaiming ourselves, but we have to have action, words that are cute and acceptable for grants, social media and conversation, but it is really about what we do and how we live our lives at the core. That shifts the perspective of our conversations about progression and survival. We are beginning to create our own platforms and the message that we send is what will shape the culture of the world. Almost every country is imitating Black Culture, that should be saying something powerful to us. I could go on but I’ll stop there and not get too political.

DMMWhat have been some of the most memorable moments dance has brought you?

Sakina Ibrahim: Dance, I love dance so much, I danced because it allowed me to express myself, when I didn’t have confidence in my voice. I could move, without being told to shut up. I remember going into my basement as a child and just dancing for hours, dance is where I felt safe. Also getting into college for dance was a big memorable moment, I’m a first generation graduate so the fact I could dance and get a degree meant everything to me! One story that reminds me of how magical the journey of dance has been in my life was auditioning for Anthony Burrell during my undergrad at University of the Arts. Everyone wanted to be in this superstars new choreography and I was cast.Then 5 years later, after no contact I end up Assisting him and building his youth program Breaking Barriers. Oh, dancing with Rennie Harris Puremovement was a big deal for me too, it was my first gig out of college and my first time being handed a video tape and told “learn it for the show in two­ weeks. I worked really hard and had to prove to myself that I had the chops to dance with these AMAZING Philly Hip­hop heads. House dance forced me to feel, to loose that Graham Technique training and feel the music and the sensations in my body. My absolute favorite memory is traveling to Africa and dancing in the village in Ghana, it affirmed so much of my identity and that dance is culture. Through those drums, the rolling of my spine, the shaking of my behind, the throwing of my arms and legs, it was like walking in the footprints of Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham. I realized we all belong to Africa there was such much value of life there. Dance allowing me to travel with a common language is the most powerful thing I have experienced.

DMM: What else are you currently working on so you finish out the year strong?

Sakina Ibrahim: The year has been really amazing, I am working on Big Words To Little Me: Truth, Power and Play Workshop Series, the first will be held in my hometown Springfield, MA on August 15th at Shooting Star Dance Center. I plan to set dates for Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles too. I will be attending film festival panel discussions for my film premier in Cancer Pimp directed by Elton Loud, choreographing Shelly Garrett’s Beauty Shop the Play in Atlanta, GA and working with a TV network on a special project, that is all I can say about it right now. I am also hoping to get some calls and emails for master classes, and gigs because the bills have to be paid.

DMM: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you on your journey thus far?

Sakina Ibrahim: Of course!! Thank you to my family, friends and my partner, they are a driving force in my life. Thank you to my dance mentors and friends, Carol­ann Boardway, Sheron Wray, Tiffany Willoughby Herard, Jennifer Fisher, Anthony Burrell, Brenda Dixon­ Gottschild, Donald Mckayle, and the co­writer for Big Words to Little Me Jessie Lee. Thank you to my SGI family and Mentor Daisaku Ikeda. Shout out to my agency BLOC NYC, Susan Batson Acting Studio, and a special Thank you to all my students and to every woman doing the work to build and to win, let’s forever be #danceinspired.

Books are available on and

Contact information: Sakina Ibrahim IG:Sackina322


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