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How Gorilla Sage created his own reality by using dance as his muse

Transfixion by jungle movement is an easy state to fall into.

Cultivated in New York City, the dance style fuses elements of bruk up, krumping, and contortionism to entrance audiences.

Ridiculous muscle control is required to pull off complex isolations — a cornerstone of the form, allowing dancers to perform movements “akin to the Japanese art of origami.” Rolling waves melt throughout the dancer’s body only to freeze at a dime drop.

I first met Haseem Bivins–a.k.a. “Gorilla Sage,” having stumbled into his class at a dance studio in Westchester.

The way he moved seemed impossible: something one would be more likely to witness at Burning Man than amidst the quiet, Hudson River Valley town.

For Bivins, who grew up in Greenburgh NY, the notion that performing arts could become a career path crystalized during high school. He went on to attend SUNY Purchase as a member of their acting program.

The animator can be commonly spotted armed with Buugeng (pictured above).

Inspired by american juggler Michael Moschen, Dai Murata (a.k.a. Zaobab) created the collapsable wooden prop that literally means weapon–“buu”, illusion–”geng.” Bivins is part of a growing group of first generation performers. He claims they help “bring more pantomime and storytelling to dance”.

“Like, what can stillness do?”

The Sage recently moved to Brooklyn: a conduit he hopes will “push the movement forward”.

These days, he competes, judges and teaches in the Tri-state area; having since won coveted street dance competitions such as “Battle Fest”, “League of Unreal Dance”, “D.R.E.A.M. Ring”, and “Fusion Culture”.

Bivins has also notably appeared on Yak Films, dancing alongside his mentor, who dubs himself “King Kong”. Their performance hits every beat, culminating in a hypnotic progression amidst the concrete jungle. Since being published in 2011, the video has racked up an impressive 100,000+ views.

The NY dancer draws inspiration from everything around him and expresses himself in the language he is most fluent in: movement. He once wore red “sharingan” contact lenses to a battle–referencing the hit anime show “Naruto”.

In the battle’s final stage, he ripped a t-shirt clean off the back of his opponent. The master embodies a different persona each time he steps on stage, aspiring to “transport [the viewer] like a trance, like oh wow, I forgot… he took me out of my existence”.

Whether posting videos to Instagram of himself, smiling and walking down the streets of Brooklyn, or the Buddhic lingo he responds to internet posts in–full “namaste’s” and “shining light beings”–it’s clear that he’s a glass-half-full kind of guy.

“I grew up without a father. That’s supposed to be a crutch I can lean on in this world an’ shit… Instead of doing that I spin it into a positive: so I was raised by a dope mom. If I had a toxic father in my life maybe I wouldn’t have grown up to be such a dope individual.”

But in the end, “it’s all about creating”, the Sage remarks.