Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Immigration and Disability: Examining the Nexus of Movement Making


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When: Tuesday,  June 11, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Bruno Walter Auditorium, 111 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10023
Register for the Conversation: Free. Registration is required.

Accessibility:    The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is an accessible venue. Accessible men’s and women’s restrooms at the L level and on the third floor. Accessible women’s restrooms only on the second floor. Accessible water fountains are located at the L level and on the third floor. Auditorium house includes ramped seating, with wheelchair accessible spaces in the front and back of the house. ASL Interpretation and Audio Description will be provided at this event. FM assistive listening headsets are available upon request. The auditorium is lit by a combination of fluorescent and incandescent lights. If you require reasonable accommodation, please contact Christopher Núñez at least two weeks prior to the event via email at or call 212.966.4452 (voice only).

About: Join Dance/NYC and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts for a conversation on how cultural values, narratives, myths, and experiences shift at the nexus of disability and immigration. Inspired by Dance/NYC's Immigrants. Dance. Arts. and Disability. Dance. Artistry. initiatives, panelists will explore how the movement for disability rights and justice is manifesting in different geographies, and how local conversations can learn from or support those movements. How does the process of immigration support or challenge the needs of disabled dance artists? How do these opportunities and challenges impact the aesthetics of disabled dance makers? What perceptions do disabled, immigrant artists have on disability, and how do those differ in their home countries as compared to the United States? 

Curated by Dance/NYC’s Immigrants. Dance. Arts. Task Force member and disabled performance artist Pelenakeke Brown, this panel discussion will include a showing of a new dance work by Brown titled Excavation. The work is created in collaboration with Marielys Burgos Melendez, who is supporting poetics of movement through audio description.






  • Christopher Núñez (Moderator) Visually Impaired Choreographer, Manager of Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives at Dance/NYC
  • Mana Hashimoto, Blind Choreographer and Contemporary Dance
  • Yo-yo Lin, Media Artist and Art Director
  • Zazel Chavah O'Garra-performing artist, model-Artistic Director ZCODANCEPROJECT



CHRISTOPHER NÚÑEZ (Moderator) is a Costa Rican born, New York-based Choreographer, Dance Curator, Dance Educator and Arts Administrator with a BFA in Science of Performing Arts from the National University of Costa Rica.  Núñez is a 2019 Leslie-Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art Fellow, a 2018 NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program Alumnus and a 2018 Core Member for Movement Research's Artists of Color Council - a cohort of artists of color addressing cultural diversity, equity, and sustainable structural integration in MR's operations.  As a choreographer, his work has been featured and reviewed in publications such as The New York Times, TimeOut New York, Dance Enthusiast, and The Brooklyn Rail.  In New York, his work has been presented at The Kitchen, Movement Research at the Judson Church, Danspace Project, The Leslie-Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dixon Place, NY City Center Studios, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and at Satellite Art Show during Miami Art Week. Photo credit: Christopher Núñez by Ariela Muñoz.

MANA HASHIMOTO is a blind choreographer and contemporary dancer based in New York City.  Mana was born in Tokyo Japan with full sight. During her time at Martha Graham School as an adult, Mana lost her eyesight completely due to undiagnosed optic nerve atrophy in her both eyes.  Since then her life work is devoted to merging blindness and dance. Mana is the founder of Dance without Sight, a dance workshop that  explores movement using rich senses of touch, sound and smell. She is deeply committed to bringing dance education to every body, including people with or without sight, and all physical and mental forms. Besides her choreography and workshop offerings, Mana isdeveloping accessibilities for visually impaired audience at dance theaters, by creating verbal descriptions and touching tour before her performance. Her work has been performed all across the US, Europe and Japan and has received reviews from the New York Times, Dance Magazine, Backstage magazine, among others. In 2010, Mana's work was recognized by Asian American Arts Alliance as one of four honorees that year. Photo courtesy of the artist.

YO-YO LIN is a Taiwanese-American, interdisciplinary media artist who explores the possibilities of human connection in the context of emerging technologies. She uses intelligent projection/ lighting, digital and hand-drawn animation, interactive objects, and lush sound design to create meditative 'memoryscapes'. Currently an art resident at Eyebeam, Yo-Yo is researching and developing methodologies in reclaiming and processing chronic health trauma. She aims to develop a digital and physical platform that serve as documentation and artistic evaluation of active survivors of chronic illnesses. Through an on-going movement exploration, Yo-Yo is deepening and expanding her perception of her own genetic disorder in multitudes. She is particularly interested in the nuances and capabilities of the ill and disabled bodymind as a space of unprecedented beauty, emotion, and generosity. Photo credit: Yo-Yo Lin by Zack Filkoff.

ZAZEL-CHAVAH O’GARRA is the Artistic Director of ZCO/DANCEPROJECT a physically integrated dance theatre company using dance as a means of self-empowerment. She has performed with Mark Dendy Dance Company and Alvin Ailey wksp II and has been in numerous stage productions. Her choreography has appeared in numerous venues in the United States and Europe. Zazel, has appeared on two Essence Magazine covers and several print and runway jobs and has performed in numerous commercials and voice-overs. Zazel was the movement coach on the soap opera “As the World Turns”. In 2001, Zazel was diagnosed with a brain tumor which proceeded to paralyze her right side. Consciously deciding to make the best of this debilitating circumstance, Zazel transitioned into teaching dance as a healing form to the disabled. One of her objectives is to give those with disabilities a vehicle for self-expression, helping them build a sense of self-esteem while providing them with the opportunities for community recognition and acclaim. Zazel was awarded the (VSA) Very Special Arts – National Teaching Artist Fellowship given to artist with disabilities. As a teaching artist, Zazel facilitates dance programs for special education students and engages core curriculum learning experiences that motivate the body and excite the imagination. She has implemented dance programs at hospitals and rehab facilities in New York City. Wanting to share her story she performs Inside/Out…Voices of The Disability Community nationwide directed by Ping Chong. She also shares her disability story in Ping Chong’s “Secret Histories” in the New York City Public Schools and most recently at Lincoln Center. In 2014 she appeared as a guest speaker and performing artist at the first Black History Month program on disability at the White House. Zazel is represented by Cunningham, Escott, Slevin and Dipene talent agents and is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA and the IAMPWD (Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities.) Zazel is the Ambassador for the Voices Against Brain Cancer and is a member of the Dance/NYC-Disability Task Force. Zazel received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University. Zazel was appointed to the Arts and Education Committee by Former Chancellor Farina of the Bd of Education. Zazel is currently teaching at YAI and Mount St. Hospital Rehabilitation. Photo credit: Zazel-Chavah O’Garra by Biviana Sanchez.



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Dance/NYC's diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are made possible with leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Dance/NYC convening is also made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Dance/NYC seeks partners and speakers with a variety of viewpoints for its events with the goal of generating discussion. The inclusion of any partner or speaker does not constitute an endorsement by Dance/NYC of that partner's or speaker's views.

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