WOMEN SHAPING HISTORY 2016
Founder, ZCO/DANCEPROJECT, Dancer, Teacher
Career Path: I became a disabled artist fourteen years ago. Up until age then, I was a dancer, actress and model appearing in several musical theatre productions, featured on covers of Essence magazine and numerous commercials. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the aftermath of the surgery left me partially paralyzed. In order to accept my disability, I had to transform my thinking so that I could transform my life. I still had the talent, energy, and drive to continue my life as an artist; and I realized I could show other disabled individuals that they could live joyful, creative, expressive, meaningful lives despite their disabilities.
As a disabled performer/teacher, and social worker I share my resurrection as a disabled artist by giving inspirational talks and customized movement classes at various rehabilitation facilities hospitals and schools. Demonstrating directly that physical challenges need not limit your passion for living, I convey an upbeat energy and provide them with moments of pure joy.
Challenges: I come from a small Caribbean island Montserrat. People on the island look at persons with disabilities as if they were MONSTERS! When I’m on the island, friends and family ignore me. I feel like I have to go behind closed doors. I would tell my mother if I didn’t have self-esteem and confidence, I would be suicidal. I’ve overcome these obstacles by becoming a social worker, attending support groups and joining other disability advocacy groups.
Accomplishments: I’ve had several amazing accomplishments since becoming disabled. Performing on Broadway in “Nothing Like a Dame” At the Shubert Theatre for the Phyllis Newman Health Initiative, Performing Inside Out……Voices of the Disability Community Directed by the re-known Ping Chong nationwide and at Lincoln Center, Speaking Engagement at the White House, Forming ZCO/DANCEPROJECT-PHYSICALLY INTEGRATED DANCE COMPANY
Mentors: Donna Rena Walton, Ph.D. -A disability advocate diagnosed with a life threatening bone cancer and lost her leg at eighteen years old. Donna has achieved personal significant personal and professional success and guides those of with disabilities. Her motto is “What’s a leg got to do with it!!” She started the organization divaswithdisabilities “which aims to showcase the beauty, diversity and normalcy of women with disabilities with the goal of impacting and transcending the definition of what disability looks like from perspective.
My mother and sister are the most important people in my life. My mother taught me to work hard and to always keep a smile on my face. That’s how I was able to deal with my illness and begin a new life. My sister is a Supreme Court Judge. She is very proud of my perseverance and the fight I have to continue the journey of life.
TURNING POINT: The turning point in my life was when the neurosurgeon said expect “partial paralysis, speech impediment and possible blindness after the surgery!! Fortunately, after an 11 ½ hour surgery they were able remove the entire tumor !! My vision was not affected but I did become partially paralyzed and my speech was delayed.
GOALS: I want ZCO/DANCEPROJECT to become global.
ZCO/DANCEPROJECT will be presenting ‘Progression’, their inagural show of 2016 at Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space on March 18 at 7:30 PM. #