The Symposium Programming Committee exists to advise and assist Dance/NYC in the identification and programming of sessions offered at Dance/NYC’s yearly Symposium—and, by extension, further the dance field in NYC. Membership is comprised of Dance/NYC’s established Advisory Committee, Dance/NYC Task Forces, one member of Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee, Justice, Equity & Inclusion Partners, and additional candidates they identify. Ideal members will have experience in creating, performing, and/or presenting dance in the metropolitan New York City area, share our commitment to revealing, removing, and preventing inequities in professional dance, and represent the demographic makeup of the local population.
Click committee members' names below to access their bios:
Albert Blackstone, Director, MOMEN; Faculty, Broadway Dance Center
Al Blackstone is an Emmy-winning director, choreographer, and educator. His passion for bringing people together to experience something meaningful drives him to make dances, tell stories, and encourage joyful connection. Born in New Jersey and raised in a dance studio, he has called New York City home for more than a decade. In that time he has created emotional work for the stage and screen, thrown dance parties for charity, and introduced hundreds of people to one another. He believes deeply in the power of dance, community, and kindness.
Ami Scherson, Equity in Arts Leadership Prog. Associate, Americans for the Arts; Co-Chair, D/NYC Junior Committee
Ami Scherson (she/her/hers) is an arts administrator and musician based in Queens, NY. She is fascinated by the intersections of social justice and the arts, and strongly believes in using creativity to create positive change. Ami works for Americans for the Arts as the Equity in Arts Leadership Program Associate, creating opportunities and initiatives to pursue cultural equity throughout the field. She is passionate about community development, and has pursued projects throughout urban, suburban, and rural regions of the United States. Most recently, she conducted research in Nelsonville, Ohio to understand the impact of nonprofit arts programming on rural Appalachian communities. Ami holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Ohio University. She currently serves as Co-Chair for Dance/NYC Junior Committee. She is a proud Japanese-Chilean, and Cleveland native.
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, Managing Director, Full Circle Souljahs
Rokafella is a multi faceted Afro Latin artist who is internationally known for her Breakdance/Street Dance mastery. She co-founded NYC's only Breakdance Theater company Full Circle Souljahs with her husband street dance Pioneer and Historian BBoy Kwikstep. She is currently a Part Time professor at The New School and she offers Classic Hip hop dance classes to beginners at various studios.
Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Senior Director of Curation; Editorial Director, Gibney
Eva Yaa Asantewaa (she/her) is the founder of Black Curators in Dance and Performance and works at Gibney as Senior Director of Curation as well as Editorial Director. A veteran writer, curator and community educator, she won the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance. Since 1976, she has contributed dance criticism and journalism to Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, SoHo Weekly News, Gay City News, her arts blog, InfiniteBody, and other publications and podcasts. As Editorial Director of Imagining: A Gibney Journal, she publishes essays reflecting issues and perspectives of importance to the dance/performance community. Among many other program initiatives she launched at Gibney, she has created the Black Diaspora group (emerging artists) and the Eva Yaa Asantewaa Black Arts Leadership Awards. In 2016, for Danspace Project’s Lost and Found platform, Ms. Yaa Asantewaa created "the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds," an evening of group improvisation featuring 21 Black women and gender-nonconforming performers, a cast that won a 2017 Bessie for Outstanding Performer. In 2018, Queer|Art named one of its awards in her honor, the Eva Yaa Asantewaa Grant for Queer Women(+) Dance Artists. In 2019, she was a recipient of a BAX Arts & Artists in Progress Award. Ms. Yaa Asantewaa was born in New York of Barbadian immigrant heritage and makes her home in the East Village/Lenapehoking. https://infinitebody.blogspot.com
Executive Director, National Dance Institute
Juan José Escalante is Executive Director of National Dance Institute. He is well known in the field of dance and the arts and has extensive experience in non-profit leadership. Mr. Escalante joins NDI from the José Limón Dance Foundation where he served as Executive Director for over eight years. Previously, he held various executive positions with well-known dance organizations, including Miami City Ballet and New York City Ballet where he worked in arts management and campaign development. Escalante holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, a Masters Degree in Global Management and has completed the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Program at Harvard University. He has chaired the national committee for small and medium companies for DanceUSA, and the Cultural Executive’s Committee for the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. Mr. Escalante currently serves on the Board of Dance NYC.
Julia del Palacio, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Kupferberg Center for the Arts
Julia Del Palacio was born and raised in Mexico City. She studied a BA in history, at the same time that she trained as a folk dancer of music from the state of Veracruz. Julia moved to New York City in 2005 to pursue a Master’s Degree and then a Doctorate in history from Columbia University. Her interest in dance and her specialization in the artistic practices, cultural policies, and musical traditions of Mexico, led her to seek work in arts administration after she graduated from Columbia in 2015. Julia now works for Kupferberg Center for the Arts (KCA) in Queens College-City University of New York, as Manager of Strategic Partnerships. She reports directly to the Executive Director and is involved in programming, fundraising, and community outreach. As part of her portfolio, Julia provides logistical and administrative support to the CUNY Dance Initiative – a residency program that offers subsidized rehearsal and performance spaces on CUNY campuses to NYC-based dance companies. Julia is also the co-founder and director of the traditional music and dance project Radio Jarocho, a collective that promotes and preserves the son jarocho tradition from Veracruz, Mexico, on the US east coast. Julia lives in Ridgewood, Queens, with her husband and baby girl.
Laurel Lawson, Choreographer, Artist-Engineer, Rose Tree Productions
Choreographer, designer, and artist-engineer: Laurel is a transdisciplinary artist making work which imagines new kinds of experience, reinterprets traditional stories, and questions cultural assumptions. Her performing arts career began in music before serendipity brought her to dance, where she found a discipline combining her lifelong loves of athleticism and art. Featuring synthesistic mythology and partnering, her work includes both traditional choreography and novel ways of extending and creating art through technology and design; in the creation of worlds and products experienced, installed, embodied, or virtual. Whether beginning in the studio or with code, her art is grounded in and enriched by liminality, the in-between, and arises from her experience as a queer and genderqueer disabled woman and understanding of disability and access as aesthetic forces.
Laurel began her dance career with Full Radius Dance in 2004 and is part of the disabled artists’ collective Kinetic Light, where in addition to choreographic collaboration and performance in such award-winning works as DESCENT she contributes production design and leads both access and technical research and innovation, including projects such as Audimance and Access ALLways, a holistic approach to equitable accessibility in the arts informed by user experience and hospitality. Co-founder and CTO of CyCore Systems, she brings two decades of expertise in UI/X and product architecture to both technological and artistic work to create impactful experiences, and is also the founder and director of Rose Tree Productions, an Atlanta-based nonprofit.
Photo credit: Robert Kim
Nelida Tirado, Artistic Director and Teacher of Nelida Tirado Flamenco
Nelida Tirado hailed “magnificent and utterly compelling” (NY Times) began her formal training at Ballet Hispanico of NY. Barely out of her teens, she was invited to tour the U.S. with Jose Molina Bailes Españoles and work as a soloist in Carlota Santana’s Flamenco Vivo, soloist/ dance captain of Compañia Maria Pages and Compañia Antonio El Pipa, performing at prestigious flamenco festivals and television in Spain, France, Italy, UK, Germany and Japan. She has performed with "Noche Flamenca", in the MET's “Carmen” , World Music Institute’s “Gypsy Caravan 1”and featured flamenco star in the Broadway/touring company of "Riverdance”. Ms. Tirado was recipient of the 2007 +2010 BRIO Award for Artistic Excellence, and opened with her company Summer 2010 for Buena Vista Social Club featuring Omara Portoundo for the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. Some highlights include HarlemStage E-Moves, “Amores Quebrados” at the Repertorio Espanol, Valerie Gladstone’s “Dance Under the Influence” 2011 & 2012 in collaboration with the Flamenco Festival USA and collaboration with jazz great Wynton Marsalis at Harvard University and the 2016 premiere of her solo show "Dime Quien Soy" in the Flamenco Festival NY. She was currently the recipient of the 2017 Rosario Dawson Muse Fellow through BAAD, featured in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch”, 2018/2019 recipient of Gibney’s Dance in Process Residence and will be seen in the Warner Brother’s film adaption of Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights”.
Niya Nicholson, Managing Director
Niya Nicholson is a justice driven, creatively inclined nonprofit arts leader with 8 years of advancement expertise–namely, strategic fundraising and marketing coupled with business, leadership & program development. A native New Yorker raised in Harlem, Niya studied dance at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and obtained her B.A. in 2014 from Vassar College.
Niya’s career began in 2015, supporting both nonprofits and individual artists/collectives. Prior to the public launch of MOVE|NYC| in 2015, Niya served the organization as its sole volunteer administrator and has since served as its Managing Director who is responsible for the nonprofit’s growth and thriveability, including the acquisition of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, 11 Board of Directors, and rising from a $25K to ~$700K operating budget. Niya's prior positions include Director of Development of the José Limón Dance Foundation and previously Development Manager at Gibney, bringing 6 new high tech studios and an elevator to fruition.
Concurrently, Niya is Board Chair of MICHIYAYA Dance. Niya is also an inaugural and 5th year member of Dance/NYC’s Symposium Programming Committee and has been featured as a 2-time SMART Bar Consultant and 2018 session speaker. She was the Co-Chair for the 2017-18 Dance/NYC Junior Committee. Niya was selected as a 2018-19 Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training mentee (9% acceptance rate) and subsequently a featured speaker at the 2019 Dance/USA Conference.
Photo credit: Lelund Thompson
Parijat Desai, Artistic Director, Parijata Dance Company
India-born, U.S.-raised choreographer/dancer Parijat Desai creates hybrids of contemporary, Indian classical and folk dance, theater, and other movement forms, and traverses boundaries between dance, theater, and music performance. She uplifts the notion of hybrid dancemaking as a way of expressing her South Asian American immigrant experience, but also to challenge ideas of cultural purity and fear that underlie nationalism and xenophobia in the United States and India. Parijat also facilitates Dance In The Round, sharing circle dances from Gujarat, India, as a vehicle for community well-being, engagement, and advocacy.
Parijat is currently an artist-in-residence with Center for Performance Research (2020) and BRICLab (2020–21). Her work has been presented around the U.S., India, and Canada including at La MaMa, Danspace Project, and CUNY Dance Initiative; Skirball Cultural Center and California Plaza (LA); Asian Art Museum (San Francisco); The Dance Centre (Vancouver); and National Centre for the Performing Arts (Mumbai).
Parijat acknowledges that she lives and works on land stolen from the Lenape people, now known as Manhattan. She also acknowledges the caste privilege she was born with—even as she has lived as a Brown immigrant woman in the U.S. She strives through her engagement in social justice movements and sharing of participatory dance, to work in solidarity toward our collective well-being.
Remi Harris, Associate Artistic Director
Remi Harris is a Barbados born and Brooklyn bred artist exploring the intersectionality between dance, new media and black female representation through movement improvisation, choreography, site specific work, movement for video, and curation. Recent work explores creating liberated and inclusive dance spaces under the performance/party project “Yes Yes Yes” with Mark Schmidt and virtual reality as another extension of performance.
Sydnie L. Mosley, Artistic Director, Sydnie L. Mosley Dances
Sydnie L. Mosley is an artist-activist and educator who produces experiential dance works with her all-women company SLMDances. Through her choreographic work, the company works in communities to organize for gender and racial justice. Her evening-length dances The Window Sex Project and BodyBusiness address sexual harassment in public spaces and the economics of NYC dance, respectively. In February 2017, Sydnie was recognized by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for using her talents in dance to fuel social change. Other recognitions include: LMCC Creative Engagement Grant, The Field Leadership Fund, CUNY Dance Initiative, Dancing While Black Artist Fellowship, and The Performance Project @ University Settlement, Create Change Fellowship with The Laundromat Project, the Gibney Dance Institute for Community Action Training, and the inaugural Barnard Center for Research on Women Alumnae Fellow. She earned her MFA in Dance Choreography from the University of Iowa and earned her BA in Dance and Africana Studies from Barnard College at Columbia University. Sydnie is a part of the 2017 Bessie Award-winning cast of the skeleton architecture, the future of our worlds, curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa. Sydnie danced with Christal Brown's INSPIRIT (2010-2013) and continues to appear as a guest artist for Brooklyn Ballet. An advocate for the field, Sydnie sits on the Advisory Committee to Dance/NYC.
zavé martohardjono, Multidisciplinary Dance and Performance Artist
zavé martohardjono (They/Them/Theirs) is a Brooklyn-based, Canadian-born, NYC-raised, Indonesian-American multimedia artist. They use queer, de-colonial, and anti-assimilationist dance and performance practices to make work that converses and contends with the political histories our bodies carry. They are dedicated to community-driven justice and lead social justice strategy both in and outside the art world. They are a 2019 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence where they facilitate dance workshops centering resiliency and embodied freedom. zavé’s writing has been published in Imagining: A Gibney Journal and The Dancer Citizen. They are a Dance/NYC Symposium committee member.