«How to be together?»: Biographies of the participants

Faye Driscoll, US-American performance maker based in New York, creates immersive worlds of sensorial complexity and perceptual disorientation that narrow the gap between audience and performers. Her works have been presented internationally at amongst others BAM Brooklyn Academy of Music, La Biennale di Venezia, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Melbourne Festival, Belfast International Arts Festival, the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens and the Centro de Arte Experimental in Buenos Aires. Her first ever solo museum exhibition, «Come On In», opened at Walker Art Center in February 2020. Driscoll has been awarded the Bessie award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Creative Capital award, the Doris Duke Artist Award and is the recipient of the 2018 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award. «Thank You For Coming: Space» is the third instalment in her «Thank You For Coming» (2012 2020) series of choreographed group experiences.

Arundhati Ghosh is the Executive Director of India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) an independent grantmaking organisation in the arts and culture sector in India. In 2010 she received the Global Fundraiser Award from Resource Alliance International. She is a recipient of the fellowship under Chevening Clore Leadership Awards in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2015-2016 and has worked with the National Theatre, UK. She is also a recipient of the Chevening Gurukul Scholarship for Leadership and Excellence at the London School of Economics, London in 2005; a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar and their facilitator for the Young Cultural Innovators programme. She sits on various Boards and Advisory Panels and is a Core Team member that has put together a capacity building programme for theatre practitioners in India titled SMART (Strategic Management for the Art of Theatre). She is a curator of the International Theatre Festival of Kerala 2020 (ITFOK). She speaks and writes on arts and philanthropy for leading Indian and international non-profit and cultural networks. She also has a degree in classical dance and is a poet in Bangla.

Heba Hage-Felder is the Senior Programme Manager at the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), based in Beirut. She joined AFAC in January 2017 and is responsible for institutional development and overall management of new initiatives and programmes. She has twenty years of experience in development and institutional capacity building. Heba worked with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs for ten years – first at headquarters in Bern between 2006 and 2011, supporting humanitarian aid and development efforts in the Middle East and then as director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Lebanon (2011-2016).  Her work experience between 1996 and 2006 covered initiatives in peace building, youth and community initiatives, production of knowledge resources, as well as eco-tourism. She worked with diverse local and international organisations in Jordan, Lebanon and Geneva prior to co-founding Mada, a local NGO in Lebanon. Heba has a Master's degree in International Conflict and Peace Studies (University of Notre Dame, Indiana) and a Bachelor's in International Affairs (Lebanese American University, Byblos). Heba was born in Ghana and raised between West Africa and Lebanon. She is fond of discovering diverse artistic works and personally enjoys writing and visual storytelling.

Samara Hersch is a theatre maker, director and teaching artist whose practice explores the intersection of contemporary performance and community engagement. In 2019, she completed her Masters at Das Theatre in Amsterdam. She has an interest in inter-generational discourse and non-hierarchical forms of knowledge sharing. Her recent work, «We All Know What's Happening», made together with Lara Thoms and 7 children from Melbourne, was the recipient of the ZKB Patronage Prize and the Audience Prize at Zürcher Theater Spektakel in 2019 as well as the Green Room Award for Best Contemporary and Experimental Performance in Melbourne. Her recent project «Body of Knowledge» invites teenagers from around the world to phone into the theatre to have conversations with the adult audience, in order to spark intergenerational and intercontinental exchange around critical issues affecting future generations. «Body of Knowledge» has workshop residencies planned in Hong Kong, Ohio and Singapore in 2020. Samara was mentored by Bruce Gladwin, from the award winning theatre company, Back to Back Theatre Co. through the JUMP National Mentorship Program and later worked as a show director on their production of Super Discount (Sydney Theatre Co. and Malthouse Theatre 2013).

Kyoko Iwaki is a theatre and performance postdoctoral researcher at Waseda University, Tokyo. From September 2020, she is a Lecturer at University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on Japanese and European theatre of nonhuman genealogy. Kyoko obtained a PhD in Theatre from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2017. After her completion of PhD, she became a Visiting Scholar at The Segal Center, City University of New York. Prior to entering academia, she has worked over a decade as a theatre critic contributing to Asahi Shimbun Newspaper. She was the Chief Director of Scene/Asia, a pan-Asian performance research project from 2015 to 2017 funded by the Japan Foundation and the Saison Foundation. In 2018, she was the jury member of Theater Spektakel, Zürich. Kyoko is the author of «Japanese Theatre Today: Theatrical Imaginations of Eight Contemporary Practitioners» (Film Art, 2018) and has also contributed a chapter (chapters) to «Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster» (Routledge, 2016), «A History of Japanese Theatre» (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and «The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance» (2018) among others. 

Marta Keil is a performing arts curator and researcher, based in Warsaw, Poland. She focuses her curatorial and research practice on possible alternative processes of instituting and on redefining modes of working transnationally. Since 2019 she co-runs the Performing Arts Institute in Warsaw, an independent organisation that aims at developing the independent performing arts field in Poland. She often works in a curatorial tandem Reskeil with Grzegorz Reske, recently they have been curating together with Tim Etchells the «Common Ground», a season at Komuna Warszawa (2020). She has been working as curator and dramaturg with i.e. Agnieszka Jakimiak, Lina Majdalanie, Rabih Mroué, She She Pop, Agata Siniarska, Ana Vujanović. From 2019 she cooperates as a facilitator with the RESHAPE project. She initiated the EEPAP platform, that she collaborated with until 2019. She teaches curatorial practice and institutional critique at the Jagiellonian University, Kraków and SWPS University, Warsaw. Editor of several books, including «Choreography: Autonomies» (2019) and «Reclaiming the Obvious: on the Institution of Festival» (2017).

Judith Knight is the founder and ex-Artistic Director of Artsadmin, an organisation she began in 1979, producing the work of contemporary artists of all disciplines, working nationally and internationally. Artsadmin developed its base at Toynbee Studios London into a centre for the creation and development of new work, with rehearsal spaces, free advisory service and bursary scheme, an education programme, showcases, workshops and performances. Over 40 years Judith produced numerous artists' projects, including many site specific works and projects about the environment. She worked with the Imagine 2020 European Network including Artsadmin's Two Degrees festival and initiated the Season for Change, now scheduled for 2021. She was awarded an MBE in 2007 and in 2009 was made Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. She now works as a freelance arts consultant.  

Marie Le Sourd is since 2012 the Secretary General of On the Move, the cultural mobility information network active in Europe and worldwide. Prior to this position, Marie Le Sourd worked in Singapore for the Asia-Europe Foundation (Cultural Department) from 1999 till 2006 and directed the French Cultural Centre in Yogyakarta-Indonesia from 2006 till 2011. Marie Le Sourd has over the years nurtured a knowledge pool on international cultural cooperation, funding schemes for the mobility of artists and cultural professionals, networks and web-resources. She is overall interested in the multiple impacts of mobility on artists and cultural professionals and the evaluation process linked to these.

Ana Letunić is a contemporary performing arts producer, curator and researcher based between Zagreb, Croatia and Berlin, Germany. She graduated from the Master in International Performance Research at the University of Warwick and University of Arts Belgrade as well as specialized in «Kuratieren in den szenischen Künsten» at the Universities of Salzburg and Munich (LMU). She has worked as a producer, curator and dramaturgical advisor with contemporary performing arts organisations in Croatia, Germany, Serbia, UK and USA as well as networks such as Advancing Performing Arts Project (APAP), Nomad Dance Academy and Life Long Burning. As a researcher at the intersection of performance studies and cultural policy, she has participated in numerous international conferences, professional training and research projects; edited books and authored articles translated into English, French, Turkish and German; and taught at universities in Croatia and Germany. Currently, she works as a Docent at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb and is the director of the artistic organization «Mašina», a collaborator on the Tanz im August festival and a PhD candidate at the University of Arts in Belgrade (Faculty of Drama Arts), Serbia and at the University of Hildesheim (Faculty of Cultural Studies and Aesthetic Communication), Germany.

Nayse Lopez is a journalist and curator since 1992, who has conducted – as curator, dance critic and journalist – many exhibitions and conferences in the dance field, performing arts and cultural cooperation. Among her last projects: International Dance Conference and Cultural Cooperation held in Rio and São Paulo, in 2005. Since 2001 she has been a guest curator of  Panorama Festival, becoming in 2006 the General and Artistic Director of the Festival and other projects of Panorama Cultural Association. She's also founder and editor of the website specialized on dance www.idanca.net.

Low Kee Hong is Director of Programs (Theatre) at West Kowloon Cultural District. He is responsible for formulating the district's artistic direction for Contemporary Performance and Theatre. In this role, he created Hong Kong's first International Workshop Festival of Theatre, an ongoing series on Scenography, a program on dramaturgy, international residencies with Scotland, New Zealand and Australia, new commissions with the Manchester International Festival and GREC Festival Barcelona. Since 2018, he is the co-curator of the Hong Kong International Black Box Festival with Hong Kong Rep. He was Artistic Director of the Singapore Arts Festival (2010-2012) and General Manager for the Singapore Biennale (2005-2010). From the Summer of 2022 at Freespace West Kowloon, Silvia Bottiroli and Low Kee Hong will co-curate a new platform built around Queering - a practice inspired by theories that re-examines and dismantles accepted frameworks of identity, power and privilege.

Torsten Michaelsen is part of the performance/ media art group LIGNA. Since 2002 the work of the group devotes itself to creating temporary situations that employ their audience as a collective of producers – an association that can produce unforeseeable, uncontrollable effects which challenge the regulation of a space. One of LIGNA´s models of media usage, the RadioBallet (invented in 2002), provides radio listeners with a choreography of excluded and forbidden gestures that allows them to subvert formerly public, now controlled spaces like train stations or shopping malls. Others like The new Man (2008) or Dance of all (2013) question the space of theatre itself and dance as an apparatus that shapes subjectivity, by examining the aesthetics of the classical avant garde.  More recent works like The Great Refusal or Rave and Rage (2017) invite the participants to stage a complex interaction on stage, which discloses itself to them only gradually. In 2020 LIGNA initiated the collaborative project Dispersion everywhere with 13 international choreographers.  

Ogutu Muraya is a writer and theater maker, based in Nairobi, whose work is embedded in the practice of Orature. He studied International Relations at USIU-Africa and graduated in 2016 with a Master in Arts at the Amsterdam University of the Arts - DAS Theatre. He has been published in the Kwani? Journal, Chimurenga Chronic, Rekto:Verso, Etcetera Magazine, NT Gent's 4 edition of The Golden Book series, among others. His performative works, storytelling & collaborations have featured in several theatres and festivals including- La Mama (NYC), The Hay Festival (Wales), HIFA (Harare), NuVo Arts Festival (Kampala), Spoken Wor:l:ds (Berlin), Globe to Globe Festival (London), Ranga Shankara (Bangalore), Afrovibes Festival (Amsterdam), Spielart (Munich), Theatre is Must Forum (Alexandria), Theatre Commons (Tokyo) & within East Africa. In 2019 Ogutu was nominated and won in the category of «best production on spoken word» as part of the Sanaa Theatre Awards in Nairobi for his solo performance «Because I Always Feel like Running». Ogutu is also a recipient of The Eric Brassem Exchange Certificate. He was recognized as a talent in the 2017- 2018 Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst - 3 Package Deal. Ogutu teaches at the department of film and performing arts at KCA University.

Calixto Neto is a Brazilian dancer and choreographer. He studied theatre at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil and danced with the Experimental Dance Group in Recife, Brazil. Later he took a master’s course at Exerce at the CCN of Montpellier, France. Between 2013 and 2015, he created the solo petites explosions as well as the duet Pipoca, in collaboration with Bruno Freire. He was a member of the Lia Rodrigues company from 2007 to 2013 and has danced for Volmir Cordeiro,  Mette Ingvartsen, Anne Collod and Kevin Jean. In 2016 he created with Aria Boumpaki, Pauline Brun and Noga Golan, the piece And we are not at the same place. His last solo, oh!rage was created in 2018. In 2020 he premiered the reenactment of the solo O Samba do crioulo doido, piece from 2004, by Luiz de Abreu. With that he also released his film, documenting the experience of transmission of the piece (O Samba do crioulo doido: ruler and compass).

Maryam Bagheri Nesami is an independent choreographer, dance researcher and undisciplined movement artist who more than anything introduces herself as a «soloist». Maryam is based in Auckland and is currently completing her artistic doctoral research about Politics and Poetics of Solo Performance. Coming from the underground dance community in Iran and performing and living as an undisciplined Middle Eastern dancer outside Iran, Maryam has been questioning the conventional frames, homogenizing gazes, categorizations and reductionist definitions and these, contextualize her practice(s) of freedom. Her artistic practice and research focus on inclusion, non-violent resistance, strategic negotiations and micro-politics. Recently Maryam has received a fellowship from Köne Foundation (Helsinki) to work with her colleague Susanna Hast on the creative research project: Subtle Corporealities: propositions of resistance for creative practitioners.

Mamela Nyamza is a South African dancer, performer, choreographer and curator. She started dancing at the age of eight at Zama Dance School in Gugulethu, a Cape Town township, followed by training in Pretoria and a study scholarship for the Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York. Despite a lack of black role models in her chosen field, ballet offered her a true vocation and a chance of surviving and prospering. Initial disapproval of her athletic body type – alien to the standards of classical ballet – duly led her to an in-depth analysis of body politics. Following successful turns in international musical productions and work to extend her own techniques to include Pantsula, hip hop and contemporary dance, Mamela Nyamza's own projects began to focus on the deconstruction of expectations and normative conceptions in the genre of dance. Her pieces address cultural traditions and social ills and her projects with young people tackle such issues as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and drug abuse. The enabling of equality is a central concern of her work as a curator.

Sibylle Peters is an artist and researcher. She studied literature, cultural studies and philosophy and taught at universities in Hamburg, Berlin, Bale, Wales, Gießen. She realised performance lectures and live art projects focussing on participation and collective research (often in cooperation with geheimagentur). Peters is co-founder and director of the FUNDUS THEATER / Theatre of Research in Hamburg, a transgenerational performance lab, where children, artists and scientists meet as researchers. With FUNDUS, she created «Die Insel des kommenden Tages» (Island of the Coming Day) for children at the age between 7 and 12 years for Zürcher Theater Spektakel 2020. Sibylle is also the co-founder and director of the PhD program Performing Citizenship in Hamburg and recently has been guest professor for transdisciplinary design at HETEROTOPIA / Folkwang University of the Arts. 

Alice Ripoll, born in Rio de Janeiro, is a choreographer, performer and movement director. Ripoll graduated from Angel Vianna College – an important centre for dance and motoric rehabilitation – and started to work as a choreographer in 2002. She investigates relationships between contemporary dance, theater, performance and Brazilian urban dances. She has been the director of the dance company REC since 2009 and of SUAVE since 2014. Her shows have been performed at several festivals in Brazil, such as Panorama Festival, Bienal SESC de Dança, MIT; and abroad: Kampnagel – Internationales Sommerfestival, Zurich Theater Spektakel, Noorderzon Performing Arts, Rencontres Chorégraphiques of Seine-Saint Denis; Projeto Brazil (HAU in Berlin, Hellerau in Dresden, Tanzhaus in Düsseldorf and Mousonturm in Frankfurt), Centre National de la Danse (Paris), Festival de La Cité Lausanne, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Wiener Festwochen. 

Lazaro Gabino Rodríguez' work has developed along two axes of research: memory and history. In 2003 he founded the collective Lagartijas tiradas al sol, with which he developed ten stage projects, published books, made films and records and taught workshops. The collective works primarily on how we remember and the manner in which these memories become History, the History of Mexico. Rodríguez presented his work at the Wiener Festwochen, Schaubühne in Berlin, Festival d'Automne in Paris, Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, Scene Contemporanea in Madrid, TransAmériques Montreal, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, among many others. As an actor in theater he has collaborated with directors such as Jesusa Rodriguez, Daniel Veronese, Martín Acosta and Alberto Villarreal. In 2011, the collective Lagartijas tiradas al sol received the Audience Award at the festival in Paris Impatience and the ZKB Patronage Prize at Zürcher Theater Spektakel. Rodríguez acted in more than thirty feature films, with directors like Nicolás Pereda, Raya Martin, Gust Van der Berghe, Diego Luna and Cary Fukunaga. 

Maria Rößler is a freelance dramaturg based in Berlin. She studied theatre and media studies in Berlin and Dublin as well as International Dramaturgy in Amsterdam and Ghent. After assisting the theatre collectives Rimini Protokoll and lunatiks production in Berlin, she worked for art festivals and conferences, such as Transmediale – festival for art and digital culture, the 3rd international Dance Congress, the festival Foreign Affairs at Berliner Festspiele, as well as projects of the International Theatre Institute, the German Federal Cultural Foundation and Wikimedia Germany. In 2017, she was dramaturgical advisor to the artistic program team of the multidisciplinary art centre Vooruit in Ghent. For several years, she has been working as an artistic advisor to graduating Master students of DAS Theatre at the Amsterdam University of Arts. Moreover, she conceptualised talk and reflection programs for festivals in Brussels and Amsterdam. Since late 2017, Maria has been a member of the program board of Zürcher Theater Spektakel. Her work as a freelance dramaturg includes collaborations with various theatre and performance makers such as Nuray Demir, Sofia Dinger, Samara Hersch, doublelucky (Christiane Kühl & Chris Kondek), the rubberbodies collective, Abhishek Thapar, Oliver Zahn, as well as other projects of HAU Hebbel am Ufer and other art venues.

Rucera Seethal is artistic director of the multi-disciplinary National Arts Festival, Makhanda, South Africa.  Starting this role in January 2020, as baptism of fire the festival has just completed the festival's 46th edition as an «online» festival.  Previously (2013-2019) programme manager at the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, responsible for the performing arts portfolio across Switzerland and the Southern African region and for co-adjudicating its Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation regional grant programme. She was art director and production manager at Chimurenga, the award-winning arts, culture and politics magazine, between 2004 to 2011.

Sepehr Sharifzadeh is an independent creative producer, curator,and festival programmer. He started his career in performing arts as a creative writer, puppeteer, clown and mime. At the age of 24, he co-founded the first International Theatre agency in Iran, aiming to facilitate the cultural exchange between Iran and the International performing arts scene. He has been working as project coordinator, artistic adviser and curator with several independent festivals and organizations such as Bozar, The Festival Academy and Tehran Contemporary Music Festival, Fadjr Theater Festival, etc. He has co-founded two independent, alternative and artist-led festivals in Iran including Re-connect International online performance festival in light of the Covid19 global pandemic.

Isabelle Stoffel graduated from the Hochschule für Theater in Bern and then worked as an actress in several independent productions in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Brazil. She was an ensemble member of the independent theatre group «Nico and the Navigators» (Sophiensäle Berlin). She plays in numerous Spanish films, most recently in «La virgen de agosto» (Eva en aout), directed by Jonás Trueba. On stage she can be seen in German and Spanish speaking countries, e.g. at the National Theatre in Madrid (CDN) in «La rendición», at the Teatro del Barrio in «En tierra - Grounded» both directed by Sigfrid Monleón or at the Teatro de la Abadia in «Invernadero» directed by Mario Gas. In the theatre collective RECYCLED ILLUSIONS she directs various plays and audio walks, e.g. «Widerhall an der Grenze» as part of the wildwuchs Festival / Kaserne Basel or «Kreis 5» in collaboration with the sogar theater. As a lecturer she teaches «documentary storytelling» at the FHNW, Hyperwerk Basel.

Akira Takayama, born in 1969, is theatre director and the head of the theatre unit Port B, which he founded in 2002 and which since then has been producing installations, touring performances, social experiments, lecture performances and sight-seeing tours, utilizing urban spaces as a way of engaging with cities and societies across the world. In recent years, collaboration with other fields of practice such as visual art, tourism, literature, architecture and urban studies has been further broadening the scope of his practice and he has applied his theatrical philosophy and methodology to open up new possibilities in a variety of fields as well. For Port B, the starting point for each project is the question: «What is theater?» It thereby expands the possibilities of theater and searches for new ways in which theater can connect with society.

Dea Vidović is a Director of Kultura Nova Foundation, a public foundation dedicated to civil society organizations in contemporary arts and culture in Croatia. She graduated in Comparative Literature and Indian Studies and earned a PhD in 2012 from the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. For more than twenty years of her professional engagement in culture & cultural policy, civil society and philanthropy, she worked as a manager, editor, journalist and researcher. She is currently an ENCATC Board member, Vice-Chair of Arts & Culture thematic network of EFC – European Foundation Centre as well as Advisory Board member of OpenHeritage project.

Dagmar Walser is a theatre critic and editor at Swiss Radio SRF2Kultur. 2007 – 2017 she was in the program board of Zürcher Theater Spektakel. 2018/19 she worked with Spielart Festival München. Jury mandates: Festival Impulse Festival 2010/11, Mülheimer Theatertage Festival Mülheim 2015 – 2018. Publications: Eigenart Schweiz. Theater in der Deutschschweiz seit den 90er Jahren, with Barbara Engelhardt, Theater der Zeit 2007; Echoraum Kaserne Basel. Chronik eines Jahrzehnts, Christoph Merian Verlag Basel 2017. Radio Documentaries on the international Performing Arts Scene. Lecturer at ZHDK. Lives in Basel/Switzerland.