Kiri Avelar is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and scholar working to embody, represent, honor, question, and challenge space for Latinx identities to be expressed. A 2020 Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, her scholarly research Descubriendo Latinx: The Hidden Text in American Modern Dance, visibilizes the Latinx diasporic presence in the early American modern dance canon as a way to retell our collective dance histories, shifting the narrative through a re-examination of the archive. Her correlating artistic practice is designed to further provoke thought around the artistic, physical, and cultural borderless experience of Latinx artists in America, and immerses audiences in unique spaces to explore themes of ruido, mestiza consciousness, intersectionality, migration, and Latinidades through film, embodied oral history performances, interactive screendance, and soundscapes. She is the co-founder of two creative learning sites, the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance, a resource center for dance educators, and ColectivXs, an interdisciplinary artist collective. These initiatives are designed to hold space for continued investigation centering collaborative community expression in diaspora.
Ms. Avelar’s teaching philosophy employs an intersection of teaching practices through a Latinx inquiry of culturally responsive and critical dance pedagogies, where student voice and reflection challenge students to own their learning experience, take risks, and believe in greater, diverse possibilities both inside and outside the classroom. She is the Founding Director of the Academia de Ballet Emmanuel, an after-school program providing quality dance education for the children of Hogar de Niños Emmanuel Orphanage in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, where she resided for ten years. Having studied as a scholarship recipient at the Boston Ballet School, and more extensively in the New Mexico/Texas borderland region and Madrid, Spain, Ms. Avelar has performed with the Milwaukee Ballet, Cor Ignis Contemporary Dance, Sol y Arena Spanish Dance, American Bolero Dance Company, and as an independent artist. She holds an MFA in Dance from Rutgers University, and a BA in Dance with honors from New Mexico State University. Hecha en las fronteras de El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Ms. Avelar currently resides in New York City, serving as Deputy School Director and teaching faculty for Ballet Hispánico.
"Art is about identity, among other things, and her creativity is political. Remember again the Nahuatl concept: the soul speaks, the body acts. ... Creative acts are forms of political activism employing definite aesthetic strategies for resisting dominant cultural norms and are not merely aesthetic exercises."
- Gloria Anzaldúa
Photography Credits: Kiri Avelar, John Evans, Paula Lobo, Rebecca Wilson