Mario Alberto Zambrano - Dancer, Writer, Assoc. Director of Dance, The Juilliard School


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Mario Alberto Zambrano is the Associate Director of Juilliard Dance. He was born in Houston, danced for Batsheva Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Nederlands Dans Theater II, and Ballet Frankfurt between 1994 and 2005. He then returned to school and earned an MFA in English at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received a John C. Schupes fellowship for excellence in fiction. His first novel, Lotería (Harper Collins), was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick in 2013 and a finalist for the 2014 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Zambrano, who was awarded the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction for his short story “Some of You,” has been a YoungArts Presidential Scholar in the Arts and a Princess Grace Award winner. He has been awarded literary fellowships to MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scotland’s Hawthornden Castle. Before joining Juilliard, he was a lecturer in theater, dance, and media at Harvard. He serves as program director for Orsolina28’s summer program and curates The LIT Series, a library of interdisciplinary thinking consisting of series of lectures, interviews, classes and discussions.

“In both writing a first draft and in the improvisation of a dancing body, what is so key and relevant and exposed is voice. That internal voice of the artist of what they're writing on the page or what they're writing in space. If you go to fiction workshop, you talk about plot, structure, and you talk about character development, but there are very few classes within a dance curriculum where you break down an improvisation and you talk about voice, point of view, metaphor, or musical composition within a phrase. The lifespan of a phrase. And so this realisation is helping me understand that a one minute post of improvisation or even a ten-minute span of improvisation if it’s recorded is very similar to a first draft of creative writing, where then the artist is in a position to evaluate those 10 minutes and identify what is the setting? What is the voice that has come out of my experience of writing this first draft of an improvisation? And how can I give it structure? How can I give it form?”

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