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.
Presentation at the University of Ghana
School of Performing Arts
Dr. Layla Zami is delighted to present and perform in Accra on the footsteps of Ghanian-German poet, teacher and activist May Ayim. Together with Oxana Chi, she performs I Step On Air for the Opening Event of the Symposium "African Music Scholarship in the 21st Century: Challenges and Directions", and contextualizes the piece in a short introduction. The Opening also includes performances by the Legon Palm Wine Band and the national Ghana Dance Ensemble. The Symposium is organized by the International Council for Traditional Music, a Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO, with a keynote address by Professor V. Kofi Agawu (Princeton University).
Efua Sutherland Drama Studio, University of Ghana
Aug 9th-12th, 2018
A new publication gathering established and emerging scholars, artists and activists from the Jewish and Muslim communities to
discuss historical commonalities and differences with a focus on alliance-building, now and in the future. Dr. Layla Zami was invited
to contribute to a cross-cultural discussion about community, gender, art and memory.
The book was edited by Ozan Zakariya Keskinkılıç and Ármin Langer, Founders of the Salaam-Shalom Initiative in Berlin. Other contributors include: Prof. Micha Brumlik (Selma Stern Center), Dr. Azadeh Sharifi (Center for Global Theatre History), Prof. Dr. Stefanie Schüler Springorum (Director, Berlin Centre for Anti-Semitism Research), filmmaker Pary El-Qalqili, Dr. Max Czollek (Curator, Radical Jewish Arts Days), Prof. Dr. Iman Attia (Alice-Salomon University), Dr. Yasemin Shooman (Director, Berlin Jewish Museum Academy).
Abrons Arts Center
Layla Zami performs in Oxana Chi's feelingJAZZ, a duo for a body and a saxophone. This work-in-progress was developed during Oxana Chi's time as an AIRspace Performing Artist in-residence at Abrons Arts Center. Come enjoy a Show + Share from all artists in the 2017-2018 cohort!
Abrons Arts Center Underground Theater
June 29th, 2018
at 7.30 pm
Elements Dance Evening
The International Human Rights Art Festival presents a special performance night curated by Layla Zami for Immigrant Heritage Month. Come witness a unique movement exploration of the Five Elements structuring human experiences:
Earth (Sheldon Raymore), Water (Davalois Fearon), Fire (Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company), Air (Open Dance Ensemble) and Spirit (Oxana Chi).
Invited Talk & Performance
University of Toronto
The Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) is collaborating with the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures at the University of Toronto in hosting the 3-day SSHRC-funded conference, "Transnational Perspectives on Black Germany" in Toronto, Ontario, on May 23-25, 2018. As a featured invited scholar and performer, Layla Zami will hold a talk on "Afro-German Dance as Empowerment", and perform in Oxana Chi's dance-music-word creation I Step On Air, a tribute dedicated to Afro-German poet and activist May Ayim.
Robert Gill Theatre
May 23rd - 25th, 2018
The Center for the Humanities @ CUNY
A special event on the topic of embodied archives featuring academic talks, a dance performance and poetry. A transnational gathering bringing together researchers and artists to reflect upon the physical and metaphorical movements of memory. Initiated by Dr. Layla Zami and co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at the City University of New York, Graduate Center, and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University.
Martin E. Segal Theatre
March 28th, 2018
from 6.30 to 8.30 pm
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.
As an Invited Speaker to the Dance/NYC 2018 Symposium, Dr. Zami contributes to the "Decolonizing Dance" Long Table moderated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa. The participants explore and foster solutions for an equitable dance ecology.
Gibney Dance Center
Feb 25th, 2018
at 2.15 pm
Artist Residency at JCAL
In February 2018, Layla Zami is delighted to be an artist-in-residence at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in Queens, together with Oxana Chi. They will perform in the lovely JCAL theater on March 2nd in the realm of the First Friday Series.
Black History Month Special
A special night of dance performances curated by Layla Zami in partnership with the International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF) at Dixon Place. They will perform a new piece, feelingJAZZ, among other talented artists Maria Bauman, Val-Jeanty, and Nia & Ness.
Dixon Place Theater
Feb 21st, 2018
at 7.30 pm
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