Jared Grimes likes to make noise.
Growing up as the son of a dance teacher, it was bound to grab him. Grimes picked up his first set of tap shoes at age 3 and never looked back.
Why tap specifically? It all comes down to being a little boy.
“I liked to play the drums, make a lot of noise like little boys do,” Grimes said. “The closest thing to that was tapping. It was instinctive. I liked to make noise, and everything else came.”
Soon he was making more than just noise.
As time went on, he learned more forms of dance, specifically hip-hop, but tap was always his passion. Grimes also talked about athleticism in relation to dance, and how they never seem to get mentioned in the same conversation. When he was 8, his family moved from New York City to North Carolina, right in the heart of Tobacco Road.
In North Carolina, Grimes found a sport that gave him the same feeling as dance: basketball. It left an impression because of the energy and rhythm associated with the game that mimicked the feeling of dancing, he said. He would spend hours in the driveway shooting baskets, and when it got too dark to see, he would spend hours practicing his tap technique in the garage.
More than just an athlete, Grimes is every bit a musician and showman. His greatest influence and biggest idol is the late, great Fred Astaire.
Grimes spoke appreciatively of Astaire. “I study him and I’ll always be a student. I’m young; I listen to the music of the time. It creates a hybrid of him, trying to copy him and being myself at the same time.”
April Cook, a colleague at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City where Grimes works, sees the influence in the way he moves.
“The way he moves is effortless,” Cook said. “He can hear a song for the first time, and within a bar of music, he can get the time signature and improvise on the spot. He’s that good.”
It’s this innate ability to become part of the music that sets Grimes apart, Cook said.
“He closes his eyes and he gets this giant grin on his face. It’s unreal, the talent he possesses.”
Diane King, executive director of the Broadway Dance Center, echoed those sentiments.
“He’s a dynamo,” King said. “He’s danced with some great names, like (tapper) Gregory Hines and (musician) Wynton Marsalis, and he’s every bit as talented.”
It’s this talent that has propelled Grimes into dimensions beyond tap. He teaches, he directs. And he is in talks with a television network that might create a new showbiz reality series.
“Jared is always singing, always dancing,” Cook said. “He’s like Sammy Davis Jr. in that way.”
Grimes has performed all around the world, worked in film and on stage and also has directed his own stage shows. All he has to do is set his mind on something, and he’ll achieve it, King said.
As an 18-year-old dancer trying to make it in New York, Grimes had his doubts, he said.
“I remember thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ I remember writing down all of my goals, making them tangible. It made me work hard so I could achieve those goals.”
With constant touring, teaching and performing, he always is busy.
“I want to be that everything guy. I want to do everything. I want to do these things on a huge level and show America,” he said.
From the looks of it, he’s well on his way.
Nic Bell is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.