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Disabled Chicana Dance Artist

Vanessa Hernández Cruz

(she, her, ella) is an interdependent Chicana Disabled dance artist, filmmaker, visual artist, poet & an Intersectional Disability Justice activist. She was born and raised in the unceded land of the Tongva & Kizh lands colonially known as Los Angeles, California. She received her Associates Degree in Dance from Santa Monica College. She recently graduated from California State University Long Beach with her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Science.


Artistic Journey

  Vanessa recently premiered two solos: “Nycto-Eternity” & “Timeless Hourglass” at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles as a guest artist with the international dance company LuxBit Art Company based in Seoul, Korea. In the summer of 2022, she was commissioned through the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs to produce the dance film “Los Portales del Corazón” for the ‘Dance in the Districts’ program. In 2022, she was selected into the first national cohort for LatinXtentions yearlong Dance Mentorship Program led by David Herrera. She was also selected into The Box LA Pieter Parking Space Residency based in Los Angeles, CA where she produced her dance piece “Exit?”. 


  Her dance film DNA: Disability Not Ability was selected by IKOUII to be exhibited in their virtual art show "Without Labels" and won the Honorable Mention award. DNA was also in the Opulent Mobility art exhibition in 2021. In 2020, her dance film “Nycto-Eternity” won The Dance Cinema Award from Frostbite International Film Festival and was recently screened for The Midnight Film Festival in New York. Vanessa’s choreographic work has received the award for Cultural Diplomacy for Innovation in Choreography from Ballet Beyond Borders in 2019.


T  Her dance training embodies Horton Technique, Ballet, and disability aesthetics. She has trained at Cal State Long Beach, Santa Monica College, and in dance intensives that includes: BODYTRAFFIC Dance Company, Gaga Home Lab, LINES Ballet workshop, and AXIS Dance Company: Choreography & performance module. She has had the opportunity to learn choreographic work from Marjani Fortè-Saunders, Barak Marshall staged by BODYTRAFFIC Dance Company, Reagan Li, Meri Bender, Mark Tomasic, Sri Susilowati, Laura Smyth, & Keali’i Ceballos.



  Vanessa has been implementing the Disability Justice framework (Sins Invalid) through her activism & dance work. She has done accessibility & Disability Justice consulting for HomeLA, Whistle While You Work Platform, Americans for the Arts & Mid Atlantic Arts, & other organizations. She is currently working with DANC (Dance Artists’ National Collective) as their Communications & Social Media Co-Coordinator. She also serves as a consultant in their BIPOC & Disabled Circle.


   Activism through the lens of Disability Justice, intersectionality, and community care is deeply rooted in her work. Through the university student-led organization, Affinity AIDE (Advocates for Inclusion and Dancer Equity), along with the other amazing activists; the following has been achieved in the Department of Dance at CSULB: a Disability statement in all their syllabi, an initiative to ensure all dance concerts are accessible, including disability dance in their curriculum and more.


  Vanessa’s lifetime aspirations are to perform, choreograph, & create dance films. Through her artistry & activism she will continue to help dismantle systemic oppressions in the dance field to help create an equitable path for future multi-marginalized disabled artists.

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