Decolonizing Dance: Anti-oppressive Dialog with Dancers

Jun. 16, 6:00 pm7:30 pm EDT

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, repeating until Jul. 7, 2021


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MAY 19 – JULY 7, 2021


This free online offering for dance artists nationwide allows space to build community, take collective care, and imagine implementable solutions. The 8-week long program offers an anti-oppressive approach to group dialog; through exploring the effects of colonialism so heavily present in the dance industry – space to discuss the roots of individualism, exceptionalism, perfectionism as well as engage in dialog around positions of power and subjugation in the industry. A safe space where participants can explore how race, sex, gender, culture, and other identity markers impact their relationships and their overall wellbeing.


Malissa Pansa-ad, LMSW (she/her), is a first-generation Southeast Asian, cis-het woman from New Jersey (originally unceeded Lenape land). As a social worker and family therapist, she especially enjoys working with BIPOC individuals, couples, and families to explore issues of race, sex, gender, culture, and other identity that may be impacting their relationships, work, or overall wellbeing. She approaches mental health from an anti-oppressive, relational, and systems perspective with the client at the center of their work.


Mario Ismael Espinoza, LMSW (they/them), is a Mexican immigrant born to native Mexican people, currently in the early stages of their career in social work. Mario transitioned to the field of human services after 12 years in professional concert dance. Currently a social worker with The Actors Fund, Mario provides short term counseling and clinical case management for Entertainment Industry professionals. Mario’s clinical focus is derived from a deep commitment to social justice and mental health, which gives rise to an anti-oppressive approach to delivery of clinical services.


OKAY, LET’S UNPACK THIS is a collective effort to normalize the conversation on mental health in the dance community, and provide accessible resources to dance artists. The project is a part of Gibney Company’s Moving Toward Justice Fellowship program, that allows company members to engage with the community through individually-crafted Fellowships, serving as advocates and creators of new programming at Gibney. Each AA pinpoints a pressing issue in the dance field, then leverages the resources and mentoring of the larger organization to develop, implement, and co-create new programs in response to the evolving needs of the field.

Zui Gomez, image by: Chris Peddecord, Kevin Pajarillaga, image by Jason Hill.