Vivianne A. Njoku (she/her) is a multi-media artist and educator based in Mexico City, MX & Brooklyn, NY. In addition to her work as a video artist and performer, since 2008 Ms. Njoku has instructed youth and adults in video production and conceptual, social justice-based art.
Ms. Njoku holds a Masters Degree in Art Education from New York University and is licensed through the state of New York as a Visual Arts Instructor for all grades. She has collaborated with a number of non-profit organizations, including the Tribeca Film Institute, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, and Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.
In her capacity as a public school teacher she taught film and media at the International High School at Union Square (serving recently arrived immigrant youth) and Frank Sinatra School for the Arts.
In addition to her youth work, Ms. Njoku has led workshops internationally, focusing on the ways that youth workers and creatives can use art as a means of discussing issues of anti-oppression both in and out of classrooms.
Most notably she has worked with educators through Harvard's AiE Conference, the African Film Festival, Ifetayo Cultural Arts, The New School, NYU, Rutgers, and the NYC Department of Education.
In much of her professional work, Ms. Njoku has created positions and systems in order to address the necessity of intentional communication between organizations and the communities they aim to serve.
Currently, Ms. Njoku teaches and serves as the Program Collaborator in the Art Education Graduate Program at NYU Steinhardt.
The common thread in Ms. Njoku’s past and present work is providing community members of all ages with the tools to empower themselves to become mindful and engaged humans who strive for a just, equitable society. Ms. Njoku views SHIFT as a means of synthesizing her work of the past decade, and deepening her commitment to critically resistant arts education.
Approaching the conversation through the lens of accessibility within the arts and education, this presentation will flow through a few key intersections, namely guidelines on how to engage differently abled learners and emerging artists, as well as necessary complications that should be present in all conversations touching upon ability, identity and creativity. Be prepared to think about and re-assess the limitations you may unknowingly possess, as well as to engage deeply with unconventional perspectives around arts + education + accessibility.
BREAKTIME is a site-fluid reservoir for bad ideas, generated and performed by Holly Sass (they/them) and Jonathan Matthews-Guzmán (they/them). Classmates in NYU Tisch Dance’s class of 2014, they were often cast together in a diverse array of work until joining forces in 2017 for Tisch Dance’s Alumni Choreographic Mentorship, under the guidance of Gus Solomons, Jr.
Since then, they have performed in and around NYC, hosted by UNA Projects, Center for Performance Research, Dixon Place, Create:ART, Arts On Site, Triskelion Arts, Spoke the Hub, Circadium School of Contemporary Circus, and the Tisch Dance Summer Residency Festival. The pair has been greatly nourished by residencies through the Jonah Boaker Arts Foundation, Create:ART, Arts On Site and The Croft.
Interested in independent, community-based initiatives, BREAKTIME participated in the first annual Land Falls residency, founded by Jemila MacEwan, for artists of all backgrounds to share performance practices, and helped to convert Bridget Struthers’ Brattleboro barn into a shared performance space.
Drawing from a varied collective skillset, and always on the prowl for new and unusual creative relationships, BREAKTIME has enjoyed multimedia collaborations with director Julia Barrett-Mitchell on a music video for Star Rover, choreographer-costumer Maddie Schimmel, installation artist Dave Hannon, and brass quartet, The Westerlies.
Their quarantine film, "This Meeting is Being Recorded," was featured by Dance Magazine, as well as Colin Thomas’ Fresh Sheet. In October 2020, they received a residency from Arts On Site to develop a new piece for their Arts Alive performance series. Entitled 6’, Holly and Jonathan explored the possibilities of audience participation in a pandemic with six-foot pole strapped between their bodies for 35 minutes, culminating in a rapturous tap dance, performed to a sold out 4-show run. The piece has since been developed into a film, shot by Derrick Belcham, which has virtually premiered through Spoke the Hub and Green Space.
Jonathan and Holly will be chronicling their individual and collective journeys navigating New York’s downtown dance company circuit, recounting experiences both participating in as well as auditioning for various ensembles, and the accessibility issues they have experienced, specifically tied to gender, gender expression, and bodily dissonance.
Having largely left this world, the pair will segue into a brief lecture demonstration on their work as the performance duo BREAKTIME, and how what they do together responds to and rejects the very structures they used to strive for.
They will speak individually once more on their solo pursuits: Holly on facilitating a queer, donation-based, bodywork collective, Bodies for Bodies, and Jonathan on their curatorial practice, Protean Pieces, which pairs disparate choreographers to restage their work in performer-centric, reciprocal exchange.
They will conclude speaking on issues of audience accessibility in the context of admission, outlining various cost-friendly ticketing structures they have employed in their collective performing history.
Q+A will be embedded throughout the talk, and illustrative images and video will be shown when applicable.
Holly Sass (they/them) is a genderqueer multidisciplinary artist and bodyworker based in Brooklyn. Their bodywork and creative practices feed and nourish one another. They came to NYC in 2011 to study dance at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. As a freelance dancer/performer, they have worked with PALISSIMO, 2nd Best Dance Company, Gallim Dance, Indah Walsh Dance Company, Brendan Duggan and Mallory Rosenthal (formerly LoudHoundMovement), 10 Hairy Legs, Ashley Robicheaux, Lone King Projects, and the Merce Cunningham Trust, among others. They have movement directed music videos for Norah Jones' Puss N Boots, Iris Lune, beccs and Charlotte Jacobs. Their most recent solo project made in early COVID quarantine was directing, performing, and editing a music video “Indigo Sky” for music artists, Isaac & Robi. As a film editor, their work has been presented at Dance On Camera (Lincoln Center) and Create: ART (Center for Performance Research). Holly was a 2021 artist in residence at Triskelion Arts in NYC.
Jonathan Matthews-Guzmán (they/them) is a nonbinary, Memphis-born / New York-based performer, creator, curator, writer, and educator of Irish and Puerto Rican descent. They hold a BFA from NYU Tisch Dance, where they currently accompany technique classes, mentor the students of Pamela Pietro’s Future Dancers and Dancemakers Workshop on musical collaboration, and direct the Tisch Dance Alumni Choreographic Mentorship with Gus Solomons, Jr.
Their work and studies have taken them abroad to Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Springboard Danse Montréal, the International Theatre Festival of Kerala, and Toscana Dance HUB (now WADE), where they studied dance accompaniment with Robert Boston.
They dance with Darrah Carr Dance, Indah Walsh Dance Company, and Valerie Green / Dance Entropy, and, with Holly Sass, co-founded and co-direct BREAKTIME.
Jonathan sings tenor with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, music directs for Queens Shakespeare Inc./What Dreams May Co., has composed original scores for Giada Ferrone, Patrick Corbin, Gaspard Louis, and Rashaun Mitchell, and teaches Lower School Chorus and Theatre at The Calhoun School. They additionally accompany Ballez classes at Gibney Dance and youth classes at Mark Morris Dance Center.
Jonathan was an inaugural Curatorial Fellow in Dance through SMUSH Gallery. They regularly review performance for Eye on Dance and the Arts, and have additionally contributed to The Dance Enthusiast, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Time Out NY, Dancegeist, and The Journal of Dance Education.
TALK DESCRIPTION -
Cris de Diego will be presenting on accessibility in museum settings. She will also discuss her journey as a blind person in the visual arts. Her work with the European Union to provide more accessible experiences for the blind and visually impaired will be explored. This talk will also center the power of art, joy, and how to create a more equitable space for artists of all abilities.
Cris de Diego (She/Her) is a blind visual artist, and advocate for accessibility in museum settings. Having already earned her Law degree from the Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia in 2000, in 2017 Cris decided to pursue a dual degree in Tourism and Fine Arts from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. In that same year, Cris was selected by the European Union as a collaborator with several museums throughout Europe to provide accessible experiences for visually impaired people.