Reading the Body: Poetry, Dance & Disability

 BLR@20 Festival: Celebrating BLR’s 20th Anniversary. 

 for an exhilarating blend of poetry and dance, inspired by the challenges and possibilities of disability.  Four dancers with disability created original choreography based on BLR poetry, set to music commissioned for this special event, plus ASL interpretation.  Featuring the poems of Deborah Golub, Ona Gritz, George Looney, and Melissa Stein. A panel discussion with the artists follows.

A collaboration of BLR and the Paige Fraser Foundation. “Reading the Body” is an official selection of multiple film festivals.


Paige Fraser graduated from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program and danced with Ailey II, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. She has performed in West Side Story and The Lion King National Tour. She is the co-founder of The Paige Fraser Foundation, which aims to create a safe space for dancers with or without disabilities.

Quemuel Arroyo (Q) is a transport/mobility and accessible design expert. He is a quintessential New Yorker who enjoys getting lost in the city. Q serves as the co-chair of the Heidi Latsky Dance Company and sits on the boards of New York City Outward Bound Schools and the Hudson River Community Sailing. 

Samantha Figgins began her training at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem and received her BFA at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Upon graduating, Ms. Figgins became a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and is currently in her 7th season with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Jerron Herman is a dancer and writer. He has created pieces for The Whitney Museum, Danspace Project, and Performance Space New York. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Dance/USA and was named a 2020 Disability Futures Fellow by the Ford Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Randall Riley is a freelance mutual disciplinary artist hailing from Mount Vernon, NY. He has dance training from Diversity of Dance Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts and the Ailey School. He is former dancer with TU Dance (Minnesota) and Ronald K Brown/EVIDENCE (Brooklyn). Current Freelancer and Creative Movement Facilitator.

Darryl J. Hoffman is a Bronx native currently based in Chicago. He has composed works for Kansas City Ballet, Visceral Dance Chicago, Danceworks Chicago, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Philadanco, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago & Ballet X. He is the director of music for Regional Dance America’s 2020 choreographic virtual intensive. 


Saleem Hue Penny is a Black ‘rural hip-hop blues’ poet with a vestibular disorder and single-sided deafness. He explores how young people of color traverse wild spaces and define freedom. Saleem is the winner of BLR’s 2021 Poetry Prize.

Sign Interpreter

Carly Zimmermann is Founder and director of Zimmermann Interpreting Services. She is a Nationally Certified Interpreter and holds a BA from Columbia College in ASL/English Interpretation.

Additional Panelists

Nina Shevzov-Zebrun is a third-year medical student at NYU. She recently complete a Rudin Fellow fellowship at NYU, researching and advocating for the nascent field of Movement and Medicine in medical humanities education. In her past life, she trained pre-professionally for a ballet career, attending programs at Juilliard and American Ballet Theater.

Danielle Ofri is editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her day job is a doctor at Bellevue Hospital and clinical professor of medicine at NYU, but she studied at the Alvin Ailey School during high school and the Martha Graham School during her medical training. Her newest book is When We Do Harm, A Doctor Confronts Medical Error.