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.

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New Book Publication

Cover Dissertation

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.

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Artist Residency at JCAL

jcal Logo

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

Cover Dissertation

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

 more info



Lecture-Performance in Cannes

Cannes Festival de Danse 2017

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

Flyer Salon Qi 2017

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

Cover Lambda Nordica 2017

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.

 more info



Pre-Performance Talk
Danspace Project NYC

Flyer 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

 more info



Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference

Flyer Philadelphia Diop Conference 2017

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

 more info



Guest Speaker / Performer
Auditorium at Grimm-Zentrum, Berlin

Poster Race Power Privilege

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



New Publication

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.

 more info



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

 preliminary program (pdf)

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