The role of this task force is to advise and assist Dance/NYC’s Disability. Dance. Artistry. initiative on behalf of the organization and the dance field in the metropolitan area. To learn more about these leaders and advocates, read their biographies below.
Additionally, Infinity Dance Theater presents a video, “Task Force," inspired by the task force and its membership.
Click task force members' names to access their bios:
Alexandria Wailes, Freelance Artist
Alexandria Wailes (she/her) is an actor, director, dancer, choreographer, advisor, and director of artistic sign language. She has worked on stage, in front of the camera and behind the scenes on numerous Broadway, off Broadway and regional theatres, television and film. She is a co-founder of BHo5.org and a member of the Forest of Arden company.
Ms. Wailes has spent many years advocating for Deaf and disability rights within the performing arts. She currently serves on the Dance/NYC disability task force as well as on the board of The National Theatre of the Deaf.
She received the 2020 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence as an Artist & Advocate; a 2020 Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for For Colored Girls…; a Tony Honoree for Ensemble in the Deaf West revival of Big River along with numerous nominations and accolades.
A member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA & the SDC.
Phot credit: Jeremy Folmer
Disability Inclusion Consultant
Christine Bruno received her MFA in acting and directing from the New School, is a member of The Actors Studio and works nationally and internationally as an actor, director, teaching artist, and disability inclusion consultant for the entertainment industry. She sits on the NY Local Board of SAG-AFTRA, is Chair of the NY SAG-AFTRA Performers with Disabilities (PWD) Committee, serves on the SAG-AFTRA National PWD and Actors’ Equity EEOC Committees, and was the Freelance Disability Consultant for the Cultural Plan for the City of New York. Christine served as Disability Advocate for the Tony Honor-winning nonprofit Inclusion in the Arts from 2005 until its closure in December 2017. Her selected acting credits include The Glass Menagerie; world premieres of Bekah Brunstetter’s Public Servant (Off-Broadway); The Maids (adaptation by Jose Rivera); The Good Daughter; musicals The Ugly Girl and Raspberry (UK tours); and her solo show Screw You, Jimmy Choo!; Law & Order, Hungry, The Homecoming: the musical, Trouble on High, the award-winning independent features Flatbush Luck and This is Where We Live.
Diane Duggan, PhD, ADTR
Dance Therapist, Dance Educator
Diane Duggan, PhD, BC-DMT, is a licensed psychologist, board certified dance/movement therapist, and dance educator who has worked with children and youth with disabilities since 1973. She ran a dance program for adolescents with emotional and learning disorders in the South Bronx for 21 years, and her students performed in Lincoln Center, Central Park, South Street Seaport, St. Mark’s Church, NYU’s Frederick Loewe Theatre, and the Apollo Theater.
Diane has taught in the NYU Dance Education MA program since 1994 and choreographs for the annual NYU Distinguished Faculty Concert. She has taught in the 92nd Street Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) and Dance Therapy programs since 2006. She is an Arnhold mentor for new dance educators in the NYC Department of Education and also mentors Alvin Ailey Arts in Education teaching artists, working with students with disabilities. Diane has taught courses on dance and disability at Hunter College, Adelphi University, Hofstra University, and C.W. Post/Long Island University. She has a PhD in School/Child Psychology from New York University and an MS in Dance Therapy from Hunter College.
Diane has published her work in books and professional journals. She is co-author of Dance Education for Diverse Learners (2009) and of “Dance and Students with Disabilities” in the 2015 edition of the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance. Diane is on the editorial board of the NDEO journal Dance Education in Practice. She is a member of the Dance/NYC Task Force on Dance and Disability and contributed to the 2015 publication Disability.Dance.Artistry. Diane received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Dance Educators Association in 2016.
Art Beyond Sight
Elisabeth Axel, President and CEO of Art Beyond Sight and Entertainment Chair for the parade. Elisabeth is a longtime disability advocate and her creativity and dedication have been a driving force in the success of the parade these past few years.
Heidi Latsky, Artistic / Executive Director
Heidi Latsky Dance
Heidi Latsky Dance is a New York-based, female-run organization dedicated to the creation of relevant, immersive performance art that is accessible to all. HLD was founded in 2001 and has gone through different creative phases. Currently, the focus is on expanding into interactive technology through collaborations with entities like Google’s Creative Lab, Fashion Institute of Technology and Evolving Technologies.
Latsky has always leaned towards a humanistic approach, with the first ten years of her choreographic career focused on evening-length works that examined aspects of humanity that deeply affected her. Her critically acclaimed DISJOINTED (2006) for instance was a trio with a Greek chorus of 25 that dealt with her mother’s long bout with illness and the repercussions of her death.
In 2006, Boston-based disabled interdisciplinary artist Lisa Bufano commissioned Latsky to create a 25-minute solo. Bufano’s vulnerability and fierceness set a new standard for all Latsky’s dancers and ultimately the nature of her choreography. This collaboration was the catalyst for an artistic shift towards inclusivity and unconventional diversity, sparking a ten-year period of work titled The GIMP Project.
Kitty Lunn, Founder and Artistic Director
Infinity Dance Theater
Kitty Lunn is a ballet and modern dancer, disability activist, and founder of Infinity Dance Theater, a non-traditional dance company featuring dancers with disabilities and non-disabled dancers. Infinity Dance Theater, based in New York City, is committed to bringing motion and movement to a new level of inclusion by expanding the boundaries of dance and changing perceptions of what a dancer is. To this end, Kitty has developed wheelchair dance techniques strongly rooted in and growing out of classical ballet and modern dance.
Simi Linton, Arts Consultant, Author, Filmmaker & Activist
Simi Linton of Disability/Arts Consultancy, was formerly a Co-Director of Disability/Arts/NYC [DANT] 2016-2019. Her writings include Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, My Body Politic, and “Cultural Territories of Disability” published by Dance/NYC. She is the subject of the documentary Invitation to Dance (Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton 2016). Linton was on faculty at CUNY from 1985-1998. She received the 2015 Barnard College Medal of Distinction, an honorary Doctor of Arts from Middlebury College (2016), and was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 to NYC’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, and in 2018 to the SheBuiltNYC monuments committee.
Zazel-Chavah O’Garra, Founder and Artistic Director
Zazel-Chavah O’Garra is the founder and Artistic Director of ZCO/DANCEPROJECT, a physically integrated dance company whose goal is to create performances that are witty, soulful, intelligent, powerful and intriguing. ZCODP seeks to encourage the integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in dance and in society, to present new, exciting, challenging, and inspiring contemporary dance performances to the widest possible audience.
A native New Yorker, Zazel attended the University of Michigan and Empire State College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in dance performance. A Presidential Arts Scholar, she performed with Mark Dendy Dance Company and Alvin Ailey Wksp II, as well as performing Off-Broadway and in numerous musical theatre stage productions in the U.S. and abroad. She has also served as movement coach for “As the World Turns”. As a professional model, she has appeared on two Essence Magazine covers and several other print and runway jobs. She also appeared in national, regional commercial industrials and supplied voice overs for a number of ads.
In December 2003, Zazel discovered that she had meningioma, a benign brain tumor, which proceeded to paralyze her right side and resulted in a slight speech impediment and cognitive loss. After receiving extensive treatment at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (East Orange, NJ) and New York University Rusk Medical Center, Zazel was able to overcome the speech impediment, cognitive loss, and paralysis.
Professional Affiliations: Arts and Education Committee-Board of Education, Disability Task Force, DANCE/NYC, SAG-AFTRA/PWD, Ambassador-Voices Against Brain Cancer and Divasw