Duration: 25 Min
Written and performed by Layla Zami
Choreography, Dance: Oxana Chi
Following up in this performance series inspired by the Hebrew alphabet, Layla Zami continues to interweave Kabbalah wisdom, Dada theater, and Black spoken word traditions to reflect on the fissured fabric of our society, this time in a duo with dancer-choreographer Oxana Chi. The play Broken Bet takes the audience on a search for the foldable meanings of what it means to be "at home" in broken times.
Produced in NYC as part of the 2021-2022 LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture Fellowship on the topic of Broken.
Premiered at the season opening of LABAlive, 14Y Theater, Manhattan, on September 14, 2023.
Iteration 1: 10-15 Min
In her new theatrical spoken words solo, Layla Zami takes us on a tragicomic quest for the sounds of our subtle (non-)senses as we (don’t) move through pandemic times. How can we find foldable meanings in letters, and keep our spiritual sanity within safe social distance?
Commissioned by Dagesh, a program of the Leo Baeck Institute
Premiered at the opening of the Festival for Contemporary Jewish Arts: Transitions / Festival jüdischer Gegenwartskünste in Berlin, 2021.
Duration: 10-25 min (flexible)
Written, composed and interpreted by Layla Zami
A spoken words solo with a breeze of saxophone, using a broad emotional range to express a strong social message. A diasporic journey from Berlin to Brooklyn, wandering through the tensions, tenderness and temporalities of queer of color being and belonging.
Tour history includes Werkstatt der Kulturen Berlin, HAU Theatre Berlin, Poetry Meets Soul Series Berlin, International Human Rights Art Festival, Dixon Place, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
"What a gifted, multitalented writer and performer! Absolutely brilliant and inspiring."
Rosalie Calabrese (Writer, Management consultant for the arts), WOW Café Theatre, NYC, Feb. 2017
Resident Artist with Oxana Chi Dance
Layla Zami is a Resident Artist with the dance company Oxana Chi & Ensemble Xinren.
She appears in several productions as a musician, actress and interdisciplinary performer.
Duration: 12 min
Idea, Choreography, Dance: Oxana Chi
Composition and Live-Music: Layla Zami (alto saxophone & loops)
A duo between a body and a saxophone, blending European classical influences and Afro-diasporic rhythms. The music is entirely composed, improvised and interpreted by Layla Zami on the saxophone, with occasional use of loop technology. Developed in 2018 at the Abrons Arts Center with the support of a 2017-2018 AIRspace Grant for Performing Artists.
Tour history includes Abrons Arts Center, Dixon Place, Wild Project, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Triskelion Arts, La Maison rouge: Maison des Arts Martinique.
"We were entranced by Oxana's dance and Layla's music! Thank you for a beautiful show."
Kay Ottinger (Dancer, Curator for Movement Research @ Judson Church) and André Daughtry (Interdisciplinary Artist and Community Minister of the Arts at the Judson Memorial Church).
"I know you as a scholar, and I didn't know you were also such a talented musician and performer! I really enjoyed the playfulness
between your music and Oxana's dance in feelingJAZZ. I loved your use of loop technology, and thought about the unusual brain
connections it requires!"
Dr. Nadine George-Graves ( Associate Prof., Theatre and Dance, Ohio State University).
I Step On Air
Duration: 35 min
Idea, Choreography, Dance: Oxana Chi
Music and Poetry Performance: Layla Zami (saxophone, kalimba, sounds)
Text written by: May Ayim
Translated into English by: Prof. Marion Kraft
A dance-music-theater piece in memory of the brilliant feminist poet, activist and scholar May Ayim, also known as the "Afro-German Audre Lorde". The piece was originally developed by Oxana Chi as a commissioned work for Humboldt-University (Dr. Natasha Kelly). Layla Zami uses physical theater and speech to render a new interpretation of May Ayim's poetry. She accompanies Oxana Chi's dance with her own musical creations, alternating between experimental sounds, dynamic saxophone tunes, and soothing melodies on the kalimbas. An entertaining and meditative show, which creates an intimate and liberating universe.
Tour history includes: University of Toronto, Black History Month Berlin, Rutgers University, DIQTFF at New Delhi NCUI Auditorium, Dixon Place, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, In*Vision Festival Brandenburg, Technical University Berlin, City University of New York, La Maison D'Art New York.
"Overall, a thoughtful, beautifully paced, meditation. Thank you!"
Kerry Downey, Interdisciplinary Artist and Educator at MoMA
full performance review
"Your performance is incredibly innovative, I was very moved and inspired. We should work together!"
Dr. Olabode Omojola (Ethnomusicologist, Opera Composer, Artistic Director, Mount Holyoke/Five Colleges Professor)
"I loved the harmonious communication between Oxana Chi's movements and Dr. Layla Zami's sounds! I could hear Layla's music
and sound effects resonating through Oxana's body, and I thought: this is brilliant!"
Dr. Gayle Murchison, (Associate Prof., Musicology, Williams & Mary University)
"Like a dream in slow motion expressing different emotions through sounds and body movements. Appreciating the performance
requires a slowing down and focusing of attention, almost like being in meditation."
Sunil Deepak, Journalist, Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film Festival, 2016