Expanding Access and Equity in the Dance Profession

This is an interview with Mark Travis Rivera, creator of the Marked Dance Project. I first met Mark, in 2013, at AXIS Dance Company. It is a refreshing look into what defines a professional dancer, and an important step forward in the dance community. As a dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher, with financial barriers, I found this article insightful, and inspiring. Please read!


Side note:

I know that I haven’t posted in several months, but I’m working on reactivating the Integrated Dance blog. Please stay tuned for more posts!

Thanks for readin’ šŸ™‚ ā¤




Bionic Artist Viktoria Modesta Transcends the Human Body:

This is an awesome story about artist Viktoria Modesta. This is the link to the article:

Bionic Artist Viktoria Modesta Transcends the Human Body

And this is her video:

Thanks for watching and reading! šŸ™‚ ā¤

Interview with Mark Travis Rivera

This is an interview with Mark Travis Rivera, Founder and Artistic Director of the Marked Dance Project. I first met Mark during his internship at AXIS Dance Company. He is very involved in the integrated dance community, and has been helpful with my goals. I hope you enjoy this interview!

1: When did you start dancing?

I began dancing at the age of 15 years old, training under the direction of Erin Pride, at Rosa L. Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts in Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up.Ā 

2: And what has your journey in dance been like?

My dance journey has been filled with many unexpected turns and leaps (laughs). As a person who was born with a disability, I wasn’t expected to be able to work properly, let alone dance. Yet I remained persistent with my desire to dance because every fiber in my being told me I needed to dance. I needed to be on stage or be in the studio creating works. Along the way I had a lot of people try to discourage me from pursuing dance and forming my own integrated dance company, but I didn’t listen to those people. I remained committed to following my dream and it has led to so many amazing opportunities.Ā 

3: How was your time at AXIS Dance Company?

The apprenticeship with AXIS was a life changing and rewarding experience. I got to connect with so many awesome people and move across the country for a short time. My summer with AXIS will always hold a special place in my heart.Ā 

4: Can you tell us a little about the Marked Dance Project?

marked dance project is a contemporary dance company that includes dancers with and without disabilities. Our mission is to mold and enhance the artistic abilities of aspiring, emerging, and professional dancers, while fostering understanding of integrated dance among society.

5: When did you first get the idea for the Marked Dance Project?

I was 17-years old when I first got the idea to start my own dance company for disabled and non-disabled dancers. At the time I didn’t know about companies such as AXIS or CanDoCo, but I knew I would need to create my own opportunities if I wanted to dance. Ā 

6: And what have been some struggles with the Marked Dance Project?

Like many non-profits, funding has been an issue for us but somehow I manage to connect us with various groups that support the work.Ā 

7: Can you tell us a little about your activism and your writing?

Through public speaking and writing, my advocacy work focuses on self-awareness and empowerment while tackling issues that impact the LGBTQ, people of color, and disabled community. I consider myself a storyteller and use my talents to promote social justice and acceptance of all people, regardless of differences.Ā 

8: Why do you dance?

I dance because it fills me with immense joy and gratitude.Ā 

9: Can you speak a little about the discrimination that is faced by disabled dancers?

Accessibility for dancers with disabilities is still a major issue despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the dance community is still trying to wrap its head around the fact that dancers come in many shades and types of bodies. I think we’ve come a long way but we still have a lot more work to do. Also, a lot of dance spaces are not wheelchair accessible because the idea that someone in a chair can also be a dancer is still not a part of our societal consciousness.Ā 

10: And what is your advice for people pursuing a career in integrated dance?

My advice to every artist is simple: know your craft, respect its history, and bust your ass to be the best that you can be. Emphasis on YOU because being an artist is about one’s own journey and if we compare ourselves to others, we will surely find ourselves unhappy.Ā 

Interview with Annika Nonhebel:

This is an interview with Annika Nonhebel, who I first met at AXIS Dance Company in 2013. Annika is very involved in integrated dance, and has played an important role in my dance education, and future. I hope you enjoy this interview!

1: How did you first get started working in the dance world?
I first started teaching dance when in college. A friend of mine mentioned they were looking for someone to choreograph some dance pieces for a high school play. I had never taught before, but they hired me and I loved it. I continued teaching dance on the side while in college and during my work as a manager at a deaf institute. When I moved to the United States I came across AXIS Dance Company. There my love for dance, non profit management and working with the disabled all came together.
2: How did you first discover integrated dance?
I remember seeing a play when I was little where people with Down syndrome acted along non disabled actors. It was beautiful. I didn’t learn about this genre until someone told me about AXIS and I researched them.


3: How was your time at AXIS Dance Company?
I was at AXIS for 8 years and learned so much. We had a very small team so you quickly learn all the ins and outs of running a dance company.
I absolutely loved the assemblies that we brought to schools as well as workshops we did for youth. Seeing the impact you have on students and their teachers was priceless.


4: What has your journey in the dance world been like?
I started taking dance classes when I was 8, prior to that I joined a musical theater group. Dancing always made me happy, gave me a feeling of freedom. I never thought I would work in dance though. Sometimes life just takes you in certain directions.
5: What are some of the struggles you have faced working in dance?
When I worked as an education director there was the constant struggle to convince people that dance is as important as all the other art forms. Even though students might never grow up to be dancers, (creative) dance is a wonderful outlet and an incredible way to teach creativity, team building and problem solving. Especially young boys LOVE doing crazy things with their bodies. I believe many learning/behavior problems would be solved if creative movement was a bigger part of the curriculum.
Another struggle is money and work/life balance. You don’t work in the arts to get rich. Everyone is so passionate about the work they do they work non-stop. Art non-profits learned to do with less, because everyone works way more than what is being reflected in budgets and job descriptions. Eventually this leads to burn outs and to organizations that can’t sustain the amount of work they did with people that basically did the work of two sometimes three people.


6: What is your favorite thing about working in integrated dance?
Teaching dance to people with disabilities (including learning and developmental disabilities) pushes you to be the best teacher you can be. You need to be on your toes and stay focused. I love seeing how people push themselves to go beyond what they thought they were capable of.


7: What have you learned from working in integrated dance?
See above


8: Can you tell me a little bit about Amy Seiwert’s Imagery?

Amy Seiwert’s Imagery is a contemporary ballet company based in San Francisco. Imagery’s artists are constantly pushing the preconceptions of what ballet is and can be. We respect swans and sylphs, but it’s not where the companies interest lies. Through risk taking and collaboration we strive to push the field of ballet forward.

Amy works from a classical ballet technique, but engages her dancers in a creative process that is more common in modern dance. She asks her dancers to make creative choices, to manipulate movement. Through this her work is constantly fresh and unique, plus she fosters strong creative dance makers. Something that you don’t see a lot in the traditional ballet world.

9: What is your advice to someone pursuing a career in dance?
Get to know people in the world of dance. Talk to them, visit companies, ask questions. Know that when you work for a small company or start your own, you’ll need to be an all rounder and be able to do a lot of things. Don’t expect to know it all, you will learn and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Once you start working find friends among colleagues in the field, it’s good to know you have a network and people to fall back on.
10: How has integrated dance changed you?
It taught me to look at everyone as an individual not as (part of) a group. To look at someone’s strengths and to believe that everyone can grow and learn. This growth and learning might look different for everyone, but it will be there as long as you look closely.

Dizzy Feet Foundation, And AXIS Dance Company:

I’m in these!

integrated dance

This is the PSA for the Dizzy Feet Foundation:

They help to fund dance education and programs like the Youth Camp, at AXIS. This is the link to the AXIS Youth Camp:


I actually just found out Iā€™m in the PSA, and the picture at AXIS. Iā€™m in the hot pink shirt, and black shorts, towards the beginning of the PSA, and Iā€™m in the bright blue shirt and black shorts, at the back of the AXIS picture.

Please support the Dizzy Feet Foundation, and AXIS Dance. I attended AXIS Youth Camp on a full scholarship, in 2013.

Also thank you to dance4dreams, for reblogging some of my posts! ā¤

Thanks for readin! šŸ™‚ ā¤

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Happy Holidays:

Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas to everybody! Thank you so much to my followers! I know I haven’t posted much lately, but I’ve been quite busy. I am planning to start posting more again. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, and Holiday. This is a very emotional, and inspiring story, I have for you today. Please read!


Thanks for readin! šŸ™‚ ā¤