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Fabiola Zérega – Venezuela

DANCING IN DIVERSITY

Fabiola Zérega shares her experience as a dancer, an advocate of disability rights, and the producer of Am Danza de Habilidades Mixtas

Image of two dancers on a stage cast in pink and blue light. Dancer Fabiola Zérega is sitting in a wheelchair wearing a white/pink full-body leotard. She has one arm on the wheel of her chair, the other is extended, pressing against the chest of the other dancer, looking at her hand. The second dancer is bald, wearing white/pink shorts. They are standing on their toes, looking down and leaning forward supported by Fabiola’s hand on their chest.

 Teatro Teresa Carreño/ Función Entramado/ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 2017. Photo: @argencucho_artistic_photo

I am a dancer and producer of the AM Danza de Habilidades Mixtas, a dance company created to show how different bodies have limitless forms of movement. The world of disability has become slightly more present in recent times. But the road ahead is long, especially in Venezuela, where I live and work as a disabled person with reduced physical mobility caused by a traffic collision 25 years ago.

Over the past 18 years I have devoted myself to raising awareness about the needs and rights of disabled persons through dance. I have been promoting the inclusion of disabled people in creative pursuits through workshops and by participating as a dancer, breaking down stereotypes. I believe that the dancing of differently abled people is all about respect for what is referred to in Spanish as “diversidad funcional”

I started this initiative because as a dancer I have had the opportunity to explore various kinds of movement, using the wheelchair as an extension of my body. I play with it and move through space, seeking different forms of expression. 

In our dance company, different physical attributes become fresh sources of creativity as dancers explore the choreographic potential of wheelchairs, crutches, and walking sticks to draw people’s attention to the many ways of moving and perceiving. 

At AM Danza, training is available for anyone wishing to participate and understand the potential of bodies, regardless of their physical condition. We seek to challenge prejudices and ideas that pigeonhole dance as an activity solely for conventional bodies. 

UBUNTU (2018) is one of the exemplary performances that reflects the principles above and the creativity and movement that comes with the complicity of our devices. UBUNTU is a performance in which 50 artists and non-artists with physical, hearing, and visual disabilities, with Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy dance with professional dancers. On stage, they demonstrate the meaning of the Zulu word “Ubuntu”: “I am because we are.”

Although I loved dancing before my accident, I had never fully devoted myself to it, and so it was ironic that afterward fate called me to dance – something I no longer thought possible. How wrong I was. Now I enjoy dancing on these wheels that continue to show me a world with so much to say. 

Fabiola Zérega

Image of two dancers on stage. Dancer Fabiola Zérega is sitting on a chair, their arm raised above their head, touching the second dancer. The chair is draped with fabric covering the bottom section of the image. The second dancer is standing up bent over looking towards the camera. In the background a colour cast of orange, yellow, purple, and blue light is reflecting on the dancers and the fabric.

 Teatro Teresa Carreño/ Función Entramado/ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 2017. Photo:  @argencucho_artistic_photo

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