AXIS Dance Company
AXIS Dance Company members JanpiStar and Zara Anwar | Credit: David DeSilva

It hardly seems possible that a full year has passed since Nadia Adame joined AXIS Dance Company as artistic director. Picking up the legacy of Founding Member and Director Emerita Judith Smith and former Artistic Director Marc Brew, Adame has honored the company’s 36-year history by pushing forward with consummate energy and launching a number of significant initiatives and improvements aimed at stabilization, longevity, and increased visibility.

Nadia Adame
Nadia Adame | Credit: Matt Evearitt

Among the achievements brought to the acclaimed ensemble of disabled, nondisabled, and neurodiverse performers are updated mission and values statements; a 30 percent increase in salary for the dancers and rehearsal director; two-year contracts for dancers that include benefits such as professional development, monthly physical therapy, paid vacation, and more; a first-ever appearance with Cincinnati Ballet at the Bold Moves Festival; and the continuation of AXIS’s Choreo-Lab Fellowship for Disabled Choreographers, last year in collaboration with The Joyce Theater in New York City. The company has also garnered a Hewlett 50 Grant to create a new work involving dance and disability robotics, recently presented a film on Lincoln Center’s YouTube channel, will make its debut at the 2023 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Western Massachusetts in July, and has won eight awards for another film, Roots Above Ground, from festivals worldwide, including Silk Road Film Awards Cannes.

Adame started as a dancer at AXIS in 2001, and with her return in 2022 to helm the company, she said in a press release, “I strive to broaden AXIS’s reach beyond physically integrated dance and cement AXIS as a hub for movement artistry that celebrates disabled and neurodivergent artists, audiences, and communities of all backgrounds and experiences. As I look towards the future, I aim to increase the company’s international presence, commission more disabled choreographers, and expand our youth engagement programming.”

In addition to its regular performance season and touring, AXIS offers a robust platform for integrated dance education and outreach programs that serve disabled and nondisabled people of all ages, experiences, and spectrum of disabilities. Coming in the next few months are the 2023 Choreo-Lab (the Lab”) at AXIS’s home base in Berkeley (May 30 – June 10) and a five-day in-person Summer Intensive (July 24–28).

The Lab will be led by Adame; choreographer, dramaturg, educator, and disability advocate Christopher Unpezverde Núñez, and Choreographer Fellows Davian DJ Robinson, Larissa Velez-Jackson, Sammie Murray, and Saira Barbaric.

The Summer Intensive, held in partnership with Cal State East Bay’s Theatre and Dance Department, will take place on the college’s Hayward campus.