Kiri Avelar, MFA, is a fronteriza artist-scholar and educator from the U.S./Mexico borderlands of El Paso, Texas/Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua. The movement between her cultures in the borderlands and time lived away from the area have shaped her interest in accessible, inclusive dance practices anchored in Chicana/Latina feminist epistemologies, border studies, and interdisciplinary frameworks. Her teaching philosophy employs an intersection of translanguaging, sentipensante (sensing/thinking), and critical dance pedagogies—in relationship to testimonio, plática, and convivencia—as critical healing agents to facilitate the potential for liberatory research, teaching-learning, and creative practices.
A former Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and NYU Teaching Fellow for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, her work (re)maps transnational dance histories of the Latinx diaspora to provoke thought around the border(less) experiences of Latinx artists in/beyond the U.S. and challenge notions of transborder latinidades in historical and contemporary contexts through an in-between space of embodied research and creative practice. Her work has been published in the Journal of Dance Education, Dance Index, Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine, Critical Storytelling from the Borderlands, Border Crossings: Exile and American Modern Dance 1900-1955 (Winter 2023), Liberatory Curriculum Design in Dance Education (Spring 2024), and the forthcoming anthology ¡Somos Tejanas!
The founding director of La Academia de Ballet Emmanuel—a dance program she established for the Hogar de Niños Emmanuel orphanage in Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, where she has worked with her family since 1999—her advocacy continues through scholarly research in collaboration with the José Limón Dance Foundation, as a member of the Research Committee for the National Dance Education Organization, and through the co-development of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance. Her co-curated exhibition, The Mestizo as Ambassador: José Limón and the Transculturation of American Modern Dance for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, will open at Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City, Mexico, in the Summer of 2023.
Following her 11-year tenure with Ballet Hispánico in New York City as a teaching artist, dance faculty, choreographer, performing artist, and Deputy School Director, she is pursuing her doctoral studies as a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Photography Credits: Kiri Avelar, John Evans, Paula Lobo