Layla Zami is an innovative academic and artist working with words, music, performance, and video. She recently earned a Ph.D. from the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany. A former Visiting Research Scholar at Columbia University, Layla also holds a bilingual M.A. from the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs. Her transdisciplinary approach to research and teaching orbits around matters of dance / performance / corporeality; cultural memory / trauma; gender / sexuality; diaspora / race / migration; and space-time.
Currently, Layla works as an Assistant Producer for the International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF) in New York, and is a Founding Member of the Dance/NYC Symposium Programming Committee.
Layla often collaborates with the dance company Oxana Chi & Ensemble Xinren, both as a scholar and as a performer (saxophone, kalimba, sounds, poetry, physical theatre). She recently presented lecture-performances, invited talks, screenings, workshops in the USA, France, Martinique, Taiwan, Indonesia, Turkey, India, the UK, Finland and all across Germany.
New Book Publication
Contemporary PerforMemory: Moving Through Diasporic Dancescapes in the 21st Century
Humboldt-University, Berlin 2018
Layla Zami celebrates a dynamic start into the New Year with the publication of her dissertation. The book analyzes the work of seven international dancers-choreographers and presents the new idea of perforMemory, creating unexpected connections between the memories of the Holocaust, the Transatlantic Slave Trade and contemporary sociopolitical challenges. Conceived in a spiral-like fashion, the reader is invited to travel through diasporic dancescapes in which notions of identity, home, embodiment, spatiality and temporality unfold, and are brought into resonance with each other in the discussion of specific dance examples. Based on doctoral research conducted across the globe from 2013 to 2017, the publication features conversations with the artists Oxana Chi, Zufit Simon, Wan-Chao Chang, André M. Zachery, Farah Saleh, Christiane Emmanuel and Chantal Loïal.
Lecture-Performance in Cannes
Layla Zami is delighted to present a lecture-performance with Oxana Chi at the International Dance Symposium "Crossings: careers, genres, circulations" organized by the University Nice Sophia Antipolis in the realm of the Cannes Dance Festival in France. International scholars and artists will explore questions such as: How does an artistic career build up in the choreography sector according to circulatory processes and genres dynamics? To what extend artistic are mobilities thought and felt differently according to gender? Layla Zami will reflect upon these questions in light of the biographic trajectories of two dancers: the historical Tatjana Barbakoff and the contemporary Oxana Chi, who produced the dance solo Through Gardens in memory of Barbakoff. The plenary session, led by Dr. Laure Guilbert (Opéra de Paris) will be introduced with live-music by Layla, and crowned with Oxana's live performance excerpt from Through Gardens.
Dec 9th, 2017
Espace Mimont, Cannes, France
more info (in English)
Dancing Through Gardens
Film & Discussion
In the realm of Oxana Chi's Salon Qi, an annual cultural series in memory of Tatjana Barbakoff (1899-1944), the award-winning documentary Durch Gärten Tanzen (Dancing Through Gardens) screens in an elegant Berlin movie-theatre, in presence of the filmmakers Oxana Chi & Layla Zami. In this journey through Germany, Indonesia and France, we encounter an inspiring and stirring blend of historical archive material, awareness-raising fiction scenes and graceful dance performances.
Dec 3rd, 2017 (Sonntagsmatinee)
at 11 am (11 Uhr vormittags)
Bundesplatz Kino, Berlin
New Article in English
Dancing the Past in the Present Tense: Queer Afropean Presence in Oxana Chi's Dancescapes
In Lambda Nordica, vol. 2-3, 2017, pp. 126-150. (Print and Online)
This special issue of the English-speaking, peer-reviewed journal Lambda Nordica (Uppsala University, Sweden) focuses on the "Postcolonial Queer Europe". In good company among international scholars such as Prof. Paola Bachetta (UC Berkeley), Layla Zami's article discusses the work of dancer-choreographer Oxana Chi in an innovative and poetic way.
Danspace Project NYC
Layla Zami will facilitate a talk with dancer-choreographer André M. Zachery, Director of the Renegade Performance Group (RPG). The conversation will be followed by Untamed Space, a new interdisciplinary performance about "marooning" in the 21st Century, in the realm of RPG's Afrofuturism Series.
Sept 30th, 2017
at 7 pm
Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference
Layla Zami presents a lecture-performance at the 29th Annual Conference organized by the Diopian Institute for Scholarly Advancement (DISA) in Philadelphia. The talk "Afroeuropean Dance in Time" includes a live dance performance by Oxana Chi and live saxophone by Layla Zami.
Oct 20th & 21st, 2017
Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District Hotel, Philadelphia
Guest Speaker / Performer
Auditorium at Grimm-Zentrum, Berlin
Layla Zami is invited to open the international roundtable "Queer of Color Critique" at the conference
Race, Power, and Privilege in Academia, organized jointly by the Kennedy Institute of North American Studies (Freie Universität)
and the American Studies Department (Humboldt University).
Featuring special guest Oxana Chi with the live performance Killjoy
July 27th, 2017
at 4.45 pm
Tanzkunst als lebendige Erinnerung: Oxana Chis performative Erinnerung an Tatjana Barbakoff
In Neues Judentum – altes Erinnern? Zeiträume des Gedenkens, edited by Dimitrij Belkin, Lara Hensch, and Eva Lezzi, Hentrich&Hentrich / ELES, 2017, pp. 267–288.
A new anthology on Jewish perspectives on the past, present and future of memory in Europe, launching a new publication series. Blending theoretical analysis, literary essay and research diary, my essay focuses on the dance piece Through Gardens choreographed and performed by Oxana Chi in memory of Tatjana Barbakoff. I wrote it during my time as a Doctoral Fellow from the Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich-Studienwerk (ELES) Foundation.
Here & Black Festival / Feministische Werkstatt
Layla Zami will perform at the Here & Black Festival organized by the Feministische Werkstatt. Opening the evening with spoken words and saxophone, she is also a special guest musician in Oxana Chi's Neferet iti performance.
Zwischenraum / Heliodrom Kulturarena des Theater R.A.B., Freiburg
July 13th, 2017
at 7 pm
Talk in Finland
Layla Zami will present a paper at the Sixth Biennial Network Conference, organised by the University of Tampere and the international research network Afroeuropeans – Black Cultures and Identities in Europe. The talk, entitled Afropean Moves: Black European languages of ResistDance, includes a short live performance by Oxana Chi.
University of Tampere, Finland,
6 - 8 July 2017