Broadway dancer from High Point wins prestigious Astaire Award
For all his many talents, Jared Grimes doesn’t exactly get caught up in winning awards.
“I don’t get into awards and accolades and all that,” he says with a laugh. “I think the last time I won an award for anything was probably in high school, which was when I won the Class Clown award.”
That would’ve been about a dozen years ago, when the former High Pointer was still a student at Southwest Guilford High School.
Today, the 30-year-old Grimes lives in Manhattan and is a Broadway dancer — as well as an actor, singer, choreographer, producer and director — and the award he won this week definitively trumps his Class Clown award.
Grimes, who shows off his otherworldly tap-dancing skills in the Broadway hit “After Midnight,” was named Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show at Monday evening’s Fred and Adele Astaire Awards in New York City. With his mother, Doreatha Grimes-Amouzou, in the audience watching, Grimes won the honor over seven other nominees, including three fellow dancers from “After Midnight” and stage and screen star Neil Patrick Harris.
“To hear my name called, I was really surprised,” Grimes says. “I’d gotten so used to not being about awards. I’ve always been about pushing, preserving and furthering the arts — that’s a big enough reward for me — but when I heard my name called, it was really cool to see people appreciate the amount of work I put into what I do.”
For the uninitiated, the annual Astaire Awards are highly coveted honors that recognize outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway.
“They’re kind of like dancers’ Oscars or Tonys,” Grimes says.
Grimes won his Astaire for his performance in the jazz revue “After Midnight,” which he describes as “a show that pays homage to the greatest floor show on earth, the Cotton Club.”
The cast of “After Midnight,” which opened on Broadway in November, will perform at the 2014 Tony Awards this Sunday. If you watch the show on TV, you might see Grimes and another former High Pointer — Fantasia Barrino, the 2004 winner of “American Idol” — who also performs in the Broadway show.
“After Midnight” is nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
For his part, Grimes says he’s excited about the Tonys, but not nervous.
“It’s just another game,” he says. “I like to welcome new challenges and new experiences ... but in terms of nerves and all that crazy stuff, nah. For me, it’s all excitement and eagerness to express to a different audience.”
Grimes has other projects in the works, too. He’s the assistant choreographer for “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” which will open on Broadway later this month, and he’s recording an album with his band, The Jared Grimes Feel.
Grimes, who began dancing when he was about 3 and living in High Point, says it’s been “quite a journey” that’s gotten him to where he is now. Trying to make a name for himself in New York was especially challenging, he says.
“It was tough, because a lot of doors closed in my face and I heard a lot of no’s,” he recalls. “My spirit was broken repeatedly. But I developed the mentality that if you won’t accept me, you’ll at least respect me.”
He began dancing in subways, sometimes earning as much as $500 for about four hours of dancing, and co-founded “Broadway Underground,” a monthly variety show that eventually became quite popular and helped him establish himself.
“I just put my head down like a scientist in a lab and went to work,” Grimes says, “and when I lifted my head back up and looked around, people were there and they were very excited about the work I was doing. That’s when doors started opening.”
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Want to watch?
The cast of the Broadway musical “After Midnight” — including former High Pointers Jared Grimes and Fantasia Barrino — will open the presentation of the 2014 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.
The awards will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.