Kiri Avelar is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, scholar, and activist who focuses her work around collaborative community expression. She holds an MFA in Dance from Rutgers University, and a BA in Dance with honors from New Mexico State University. Her teaching philosophy is centered around culturally responsive pedagogy, student voice, and reflection, challenging students to own their learning experience, take risks, and believe in greater, diverse possibilities both inside and outside the classroom.
Ms. Avelar is 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, looks at the absented presence of Latinx holding an integral role in shaping the foundation of modern dance in the United States. Her correlating artistic practice, Descubrimiento: Voice, Place, Identity, 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.
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. Her choreographic work has been presented in communities throughout New York City, the Southwestern United States, and Mexico, including El Barrio’s Artspace PS109, Jacques D’Amboise’s Arts Nest at the National Dance Institute, Ballet Hispánico’s Performances for Young People at the Apollo Theater and The United Palace, Teatro INBA in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Chamizal National Memorial Theater in El Paso, TX, Wortham Theater in Houston, TX, and the American College Dance Festival Gala in Laredo, TX.
Over the span of her 20 year career, Ms. Avelar has served on the dance faculties of El Paso Community College (Texas), New Mexico State University, Rutgers University, Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (New Jersey), as a teaching artist in both private and public schools for New York City and in the El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez, Mexico borderland region, and since 2011 for the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance and Community Arts Partnership Program in New York City. 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. She has presented her work in dance education through workshops and conferences, including the National Dance Education Organization, NYC Department of Education, Face to Face Arts in Education Roundtable NYC, The Juilliard School Dance Division, American College Dance Festival, and the Congreso Internacional de Educación Física, Deporte y Recreación in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. She is a proud member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), Dance/NYC, and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA).
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