Immigrants. Dance. Arts. Conference

Thursday, November 8, 2018
12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Registration and service fair open at 11:00 a.m.

Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College
65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367
Reeves Avenue between 61st Road and the Horace Harding Expressway

Speakers are organized in alphabetical order.


Abdel R. Salaam is the Artistic Director of DanceAfrica and the executive artistic director and choreographer of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, which he co-founded in 1981. The company led the historic procession for Nelson and Winnie Mandela on their visit to New York in 1990 and, along with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, received the 41st annual Audelco Award for Excellence in Black Theater Award as the 2013 Dance Company of the Year. Salaam has directed and choreographed for theater and television to critical acclaim and has been active in the world of the performing and visual arts since 1955. He has served on the faculties of Lehman College, the American Dance Festival in the US and Korea, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and the Chuck Davis Dance Academy. He is currently a director at the Harlem Children's Zone/Forces of Nature Youth Academy of Dance and Wellness at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Harlem. He has received many awards, including the Monarch Merit Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance from the National Council for Arts & Culture (1993), the Silver Anniversary Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography, Teaching and Performance from Lehman College (1994), and Better Family Life Lifetime Achievement Award in Arts (2000). Salaam is a 2004 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow and was an artist in residence at the Tennessee Performing Art Center from 2003 to 2007.

Abou Farman is an anthropologist, writer, artist, and author of the book Clerks of the Passage (2012). He is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. As part of the artist duo caraballo-farman, he has exhibited internationally, including at the Tate Modern, UK, and PS1/MOMA, NY, and received several grants and awards, including NYFA and Guggenheim Fellowships. He is producer and co-writer on several feature films most recently Icaros: A Vision.

Adriana Gallego is the first Chief Operating Officer of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. As an artist at the service of other artists, Gallego is motivated by social justice, and seeks to connect people with meaningful resources that grow personal and organizational capacity, build community, foster collaboration and bridge cultural understanding. Previously she was Director of Strategic Initiatives with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Educational Assistant at the Norton Simon Museum, and Arts Educator. She is on the board of The Association of American Cultures. Adriana graduated magna cum laude from the University Of Arizona College Of Fine Arts.

Ana Nery Fragoso grew up in the Canary Islands, Spain, where she performed and choreographed extensively. She studied at the Alvin Nikolais Dance Lab (NYC) for two years, graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in Dance and Education and earned a M.F.A. in Choreography from Sarah Lawrence College. She has been the recipient of two grants from the Ministry of Culture in Spain and a J. Javits Fellowship award. For twelve years, Ana Nery taught at P.S. 315, a Performing Arts Elementary School in Brooklyn, where she created a dance curriculum supported by the Laban Movement Analysis framework that emphasized improvisation, technique and dance making. She was the dance specialist at the East Village Community School in Manhattan as well where she created a brand new dance program. Mrs. Fragoso was a member of the New York City Department of Education Dance Blueprint Writing Committee and since 2004, she worked as a NYCDOE dance facilitator co-designing professional development workshops for New York City Department of Education dance specialists. She worked as a dance coach for the Artful Learning Community Grant (ALC) doing action research to develop strategies for collaborative inquiry around formative assessment practices and student learning in dance for six years and was part of the Arts Achieve team, a four-year project that developed innovative dance assessment tools and strategies. In 2017 she was a member of the NYS Dance Learning Standards writing team. Mrs. Fragoso was a faculty member of the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) at the 92nd St Y from 2007 to 2014 and she is currently the Director of Dance for the NYCDOE Office of Arts and Special Projects.

Ben Espinosa serves as Arts Partnership Manager at the New York City Department of Education, responsible for promoting partnerships between NYC public schools and the city’s arts and cultural community. In this role, Ben develops resources to help school leaders research, identify, fund, and manage high-quality, school-based partnerships in dance, music, theater, and visual arts education. Ben’s five years at the DOE also includes time working within the Fund for Public Schools, where he managed major grants from individuals, corporations, and foundations to help carry out the DOE’s priority reform initiatives. Ben holds an MPA in Nonprofit Management & Policy from NYU Wagner, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of California, Riverside.

Dr. Derrick León Washington is a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in dance and performance. His ethnographic work on the dance traditions of Brazil, Cuba, U.S., Spain, and coast of Mexico has contributed to numerous exhibitions, performance workshops, and multidisciplinary projects. Mr. Washington worked on the Will to Adorn exhibition/project at the Smithsonian Center of Folklore and Cultural Heritage. As a Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York, he was the curator of Rhythm & Power: Salsa in New York (June 15, 2017-November 26, 2017), a groundbreaking exhibition and expansive, interactive program series on salsa as an artistic social movement presented at the Museum. He is the co-editor of the book, Rhythm & Power: Performing Salsa in Puerto Rican and Latino Communities (Centro Publications, 2017). He’s the curator of Dreams and Defiance: A World Re-Imagined, an interactive program series and upcoming exhibition that explores the links between music/dance forms practiced in Spain, West-Central Africa and Americas. He’s the director of Urban Stomp: From Swing to Mambo, a multinational collaborative of artists-historians pushing the boundaries of art and educational practice. He has created a network of partnerships with institutions such as the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Ballet Hispánico, City Park’s SummerStage, NYU, and the New York International Salsa Congress. His work speaks to the ways dance can directly influence society.

Kayvon Pourazar was born in Tehran, Iran in 1977 during a time of revolutionary upheaval and war. After fleeing the country at age 6, Kayvon and his family relocated several times in several continents before settling in London at age 12. Due to beurocratic difficulties related to immigration to the United States, Kayvon was forced to live alone in London as an illegal immigrant starting at age 14 where he began studying dance, unbeknownst to his old-world parents who had immigrated to the US. He began his studies at the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in South London where he started his training in Contemporary and Ballet techniques simultaneously and spent his extracurricular time completing honors and certificates at the Royal Academy of Dance. At age 18, Kayvon received his GreenCard to immigrate to the United States just in time to save him from being deported back to Iran. After reuniting with his family for a brief period in California, he moved to New York to study at SUNY Purchase where he continued his dance training and received his BFA in Dance in the year 2000. He has since lived in New York City navigating a rich landscape of artists and dance-makers as a dancer and collaborator. He teaches regularly, he occasionally ventures to make his own dances and spends much of his time exploring and developing a self-guided, interoceptive somatic practice which cultivates an equitable relationship among the varied and mosiac-like forms of consciousness that exist within and make up a human being.

María Cioè-Peña completed her PhD in May 2018 at the CUNY Graduate Center. She has expertise in both inclusive education/disability studies in education and bilingual education and previously worked as a bilingual special education teacher and as an instructional coach. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. Her research focuses on bilingual children who are identified as disabled and their parents. She is involved in several research projects, including the CUNY-New York State Initiative for Emergent Bilinguals Project (CUNY-NYSIEB).

Marlène Ramírez-Cancio is an interdisciplinary artist from Puerto Rico who co-founded and co-directs Fulana, a Latina video collective based in New York City. Using parody and satire as a critical tool, Fulana’s mock television commercials, music videos and print pieces respond to the ways ideologies and identities are marketed through the mass media. She is currently Associate Director of Arts & Media at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, a multilingual, collaborative network of institutions, artists, scholars, activists and cultural creators from throughout the Americas who work at the intersection of art, scholarship and social change. Focusing on embodied practice—performance—and housed at New York University, the Institute promotes vibrant collaborations at the level of expressive practice and pedagogy, builds collections of artistic and academic materials for research and teaching across borders, and aims to develop the next generation of multidisciplinary scholars and performance-based artists. She heads up projects such as the Encuentros, week-long gatherings that bring together hundreds of participants to think and create together; the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library, an online archive of rare video documenting political performance in the Americas; EMERGENYC, a program for emerging performers in New York City focused on “artivist” (artist/activist) work; the Hemispheric New York Performance Network, an initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation's NYC Cultural Innovation Fund to provide creative support for politically engaged local artists; and the HELIX Queer Performance Network, a collaboration between La MaMa, BAX, and Hemi that seeks to nurture emerging queer performers, unite diverse communities, and celebrate the legacy of queer performance in NYC. In 2014, she received the BAX Honorary Artist Advocate Award for her work in the field. Her academic background is in Comparative Literature, having earned her BA in Literature at Harvard University, and her MA and PhD coursework (ABD) in Comparative Literature at Stanford University. During her time in California, Marlène studied with Cherríe Moraga, performed with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Red Rocket Theater, and was a member of the Latina Theatre Lab, a collective of writers, performers, and directors whose work dealt with Latina identities, pop culture, and the intricacies of belonging. In 2010, she received her MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish at New York University's Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Mesihovic Mersiha (aHiZreM WORLD), born in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an interdisiciplinary artist working with elements of dance, theater, drawing, writing, sound and ethnography. Mesihovic initiated CIRCUITDEBRIS in 2011 to formally conceptualize her collaboration with artists across disciplines and passion for community engagement. Her work has been presented internationally and received support from New Dance Alliance and New York Foundation for the Arts. She was a resident artist at the Choreo Collision/Danza Venezia (2012), New Dance Alliance, NYC (2015), Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, (2015), Earth Dance in Massachusetts, (2016), BRIClab in Brooklyn (2016) and Denmark Arts Center, Portland, Maine (2017). Her work is interested in human behavior and the infinite possibilities of the human body, challenging our perception of what is possible. Vocabulary of displacement and non-fixity of identity found in diasporic cultures, the trans-national position of her birth land Bosnia and Herzegovina and her experience as a refugee gives birth to her movement language and her ability to facilitate transgressive & transformative community spaces. Mesihovic is actively developing her unique movement practice interested in re-connecting us to our energetic body and discovery of the spiral dynamic present within the body. She teaches at a wide range of institutions and cultural organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

Naomi Sturm formerly served as the Director of Folklife at Staten Island Arts, where she worked extensively with the island’s diverse folk and traditional artists. As the project director for Suriya NYC at CTMD, she builds upon her work started in Staten Island with the Sri Lankan community. She has worked for many years with immigrant and ethnic communities throughout the City on presenting traditional arts and developing educational and public programming. A specialist in folk arts and the immigrant experience, Naomi is a co-founder of the NY Quechua Initiative and Los Herederos (The Inheritors), which documents Latino storytellers in New York City, and previously worked for City Lore and CTMD’s Pachamama Peruvian Arts program. Naomi Sturm completed her graduate work in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, where she worked extensively with Andean musical traditions in the diaspora.

Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New York City. Her practice includes drawing, writing, storytelling and movement. All her work is rooted within the Samoan concept of the ‘va’ or 'in-between space.’ As a Aotearoa (New Zealand) born, afakasi Samoan, immigrant, disabled woman she is interested in the in-between spaces we each inhabit. This year she has formed the Alien Support Service collective with other immigrant artists and she is a member of Dance/NYC's Immigrant Artist Taskforce 2017-18, offering an immigrant indigenous multi-disciplinary artists perspective. She is a 2018 Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project and a 2016/17 NYFA Immigrant Artist Program alumni. She has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center (VT), Denniston Hill (NY) and Ana Pekapeka Studio (NZ). Her non-fiction creative work has been published in the James Franco Review, Hawaii Review, and in Apogee Journal's, Indigenous #NoDAPL special edition. Pelenakeke is a founding member of Touch Compass, New Zealand's first mixed-ability dance company. She has attended the National Academy School of Fine Art, Studio Intensive Program, NY and received a BA in English literature and Pacific Studies, focusing on art and literature by indigenous people as well as post-colonial theory, from Auckland University, NZ. Currently she is the Assistant Director of Culture Push, a NYC based non-profit arts organization.

Yasemin Ozumerzifon, A native of Istanbul, Turkey, enjoys her roles as an administrator, educator, and facilitator. After beginning her dance and psychology training in her hometown, she received a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Connecticut College, where she continued her studies. To combine her two passions, she completed an M.A. at Columbia University in Developmental Psychology, with a focus on creativity and human development. As Director of Community Action at Gibney, Yasemin oversees programs that use movement to address gender-based violence including movement workshops at domestic violence shelters; violence prevention assemblies for middle and high schools; ongoing trainings, workshops and resources for artists and mental health professionals working at the intersection of arts and social justice internationally.


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