Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program

Since 2008, EMERGENYC —the Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program— has been training emerging New York-based artists through a yearly program of workshops, lectures and other events. We work with artist-activists who see their work as a vehicle for political expression and social change and who share a vision of New York City and its five boroughs as a portal to hemispheric artistic practices, identities and histories. With an emphasis on activist performance and drawing on the experience of distinguished artists, activists and scholars, the program encourages participants to take interdisciplinary leaps, mix styles and traditions, and develop incisive new work at the intersection of performance and politics.

George Emilio Sánchez is our lead instructor, and over the years, guest faculty and presenters have included: Ann Pellegrini, Anna Deavere Smith, Avram Finkelstein, Carmelita Tropicana, Craig Peterson, D’Lo, Dan Fishback, Daniel Alexander Jones, Debra Levine, Diana Taylor, Dulce Pinzón, Ebony Noelle Golden, Ed Woodham, ERRO Grupo, Favianna Rodríguez, Fulana, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Jennifer Miller, John Volker, Karen Finley, Karina Casiano, Leónidas Martín, Lorie Novak, Martha Wilson, Marya Warshaw, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Paloma McGregor, Pamela Sneed, Patrícia Hoffbauer, Peggy Shaw, Reverend Billy & Savitri D, Sonia Guiñansaca, Soomi Kim, Susana Cook, Tavia Nyong'o, The Illuminator, The Yes Men, Tim Miller, and UNIVERSES. Emerge alumni Aisha Jordan-Jerome, Ashley Brockington, Benjamin Lundberg, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Frantz Jerome, Kirya Traber, Jeca Rodríguez Colón, Mary Notari, and Ricardo Gamboa have also returned to lead workshops.

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Read a 2017 article on NPR's Code Switch about EMERGE: "In NYC, Activism Begins with Lessons in Theater"

EMERGENYC 2017 Program Description

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University is now accepting applications for its tenth year of EMERGENYC, the Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program focused on political performance. EMERGENYC aims to support the development of “hemispheric” emerging artists through a program of workshops and events between April 8 and July 8, 2017 (see “The Program” section below for details).

We seek talented, committed and highly motivated young performers/activists/artists whose work functions as a vehicle for political expression and social change, and who examine the broad range of identities, practices and histories of the Americas (the western hemisphere, thus “hemispheric”) through genres such as spoken word, street performance, satire, political cabaret, performance art, video performance, movement, and others.

Why Hemispheric New York?

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New York City is a space of transformation in which expressive practices from throughout the Americas come into contact and combine into new artistic forms. The constant encounters and collisions of African-, Latino-, Native-, Asian-, and European- American cultures that define the city, combined with the multiple political and counter-cultural movements that have flourished on its streets, are a key source of the artistic and activist innovation that has long characterized New York City. Experimental performance, hip-hop and salsa are powerful examples of the hemispheric fusions that the City’s neighborhoods have incubated. Subversive media interventions, such as those created by the Yes Men, artistic interventions such as the Guerilla Girls and Fulana’s If You Fear Something, You’ll See Something poster campaign are examples of innovative conjunction of art and political protest. Drawing on this vitality, the program will enable emerging activists/performers to work with leading practitioners in the field, to take interdisciplinary leaps, and to develop their own strategies to use performance for social change.

The Program



Selected participants will take part in weekly workshops led by George Emilio Sánchez as well as by established artists who are leaders in the field of performance and politics. (Workshop leaders for 2017 will be announced soon—check for updates and a list of previous instructors). We ask applicants to define social issues that are important to them and explore how creative practices can harness their political voice. Past participants have explored themes of racism, racial stereotypes, and racial violence; LGBTQ rights; gender and sexuality; war and human rights; environmental justice; religion; police brutality; and gentrification, among others. These engagements have resulted in the creation of workshops in community programs, interviews with members of various communities, and the creation of performance art pieces, multimedia installations, theatrical explorations, urban interventions, video art, and more.

The program will be divided into three phases:

Phase 1: every Saturday 10am-2pm from April 8th to May 13th
Participants work closely with George Emilio Sánchez in developing performance and activist strategies, such as Boalian techniques, performance art and site-specific interventions.

Phase 2: intensive daily sessions (10am-5pm) from May 15th-May 21st
Participants work closely with leading practitioners, and explore specific tactics for work in the field

Phase 3: Saturdays May 27th - July 8th
Participants refine their work for a final presentation, building on the strategies explored through the workshops.
Performance presentations (evening of Monday, June 26th)
Participants refine their work for a final presentation, building on the strategies explored through the workshops.

Please note

The workshop studios at 721 Broadway and 20 Cooper Square, where weekly sessions and the intensive week will be held, are wheelchair accessible. The venue for the performance presentations on June 26th (the Club at La MaMa), is NOT wheelchair accessible. Accommodations will be made for the final projects of participants unable to access the space.

This program has a fee of $1000

A modest amount of financial aid will be available on a need basis. If your enrollment depends on financial aid, please let us know in your application. 150629-emerge-showcase-lb-0286-580x300


Who Is Eligible

EMERGENYC is now open to activists/artists/performers who live in (or can easily commute to) New York City. Applicants must have prior experience in various performance genres and/or activist practices. Ages vary from year to year (ages 18-35 or so), but on average most participants in the group tend to be in their mid to upper 20s.

Conflicts and attendance

Any conflicts applicants have with the EMERGENYC schedule (see the webpage for exact dates) should be noted in their application. Please note: Accepted participants with more than two absences, whether excused or not, may not be guaranteed a slot in the workshop performance at La MaMa on June 26th.

This Year's cohort

Ana Laura Ramírez Ramos
Anooj Bhandari
Arantxa Araujo
Clarivel Ruiz
David Sierra
Effie Nkrumah
Elena Rose Light
Eric Taylor
Heather Holmes
Julia Patinella
Linus Ignatius
Lucas Girino
Mariam Bazeed
Nicole Goodwin
OluShola Cole
Rex Renee Leonowitch
Rosary Solimanto
Simon Wilkes
Sol Patches
Troizel Carr


EmergeNYC 2015 Showcase at La MaMa Experimental Theatre. Photo: Laura Blüer

This is what some EMERGENYC alumni have had to say about the program:


"The program helped me to question the politics of my artistic practice in new ways while allowing the process to guide such questioning in a critical and supportive environment. This experience allowed me to deconstruct and reconstruct some of the politics of my work. As a result it reshaped my proposal for my second year as an MFA student and it provided me with the foundations for my current thesis and final project proposal."

"My experience with EMERGENYC was invigorating and affirmed that I was making the right choices in my work. Emerge was a way for me to combine my many selves and interests and see what tangible effects they could have in the world, in writing, in performance, in community. Personally, I found myself using some of the activities from class in my own classes and workshops. This program was feeding me in every way. I was getting a creative weekly outlet and I was generating new material for my paid work, teaching and facilitating."

"I had an amazing experience with EMERGENYC. I feel empowered by the performance strategies I learned in workshops, as well as by the support of the Hemi faculty. I feel energized and inspired in connecting with new collaborators and building community with EMERGE alumni. I really appreciate being introduced to and getting to work with amazing established artists in NYC. The activism/social justice focus is definitely unique - I think that's part of what sets EMERGE apart from comparable programs, and what attracts such amazing artists to participate."

"EMERGENYC was the artistic and political opportunity I needed to start getting myself together as an artist and activist. I met people around the city doing amazing, fierce, and interesting work. I was pushed to hold myself to the vision I had for a better and more just world. It inspired me to see myself as part of a long tradition of creators and people who use art to challenge the status quo. Since EMERGENYC, I've stayed in touch with both the other students in the program as well as the teaching staff - EMERGENYC was a chance to work with legends in the field, artists I've always admired, and learn from them. I couldn't recommend it enough for people who are looking for a thoughtful and challenging artistic experience."

"EMERGENYC was such an important experience for me—both in the short term view of last year and in the long term view of my development as an artist and an activist. Last year was tough in a lot of ways, in part because it was such a big transitional year—my first year out of college, my first time living on my own. It was really easy to feel lost in all of that. EMERGENYC came at the perfect time: I found myself in a community of artists who were focusing on asking big questions about discrimination and identities and how to use performance to address both. Suddenly I had a supportive group of people encouraging me to try new things and challenging me to think more creatively and radically about power, politics, and performance. That community was incredibly important, and I plan to keep working with people from the program in the future. In many ways EMERGENYC fundamentally changed the way I think about my work. That's probably the biggest long-term gift that the program gave me: the ability to root my work as an artist in my activism. For a long time I've struggled to unite the two; at times I even thought that I had to pursue either one or the other. Emerge also helped me think about new possibilities for "artivism" in performance and to start thinking about what I can do now, with the resources that I have at the moment. There's really no other program like this."


"I had an incredible time as a participant of EMERGENYC. Prior to the few months we spent together, I had never spent so much time with other artists. I really forged some strong bonds with some of the members, and have done shows with a few already, my art has been strengthened immensely. The only true way for me to sum up my experience is to say that I have never undergone so many transformations in such a short amount of time. I found my artistic voice as an adult in EMERGENYC, and that has been invaluable (and needs to be replicated in every city). I can't wait to give something back to this program."

"After spending so much time with my fellow Emergers, a community was formed which I appreciate immensely. I can see how this is going to play a crucial role in my future development as an artist."

"This is dream combination - Hemi and George created the space to build a vital community, and at the same time I felt we were each pushed to strengthen and specify our own individual voices/impulses. I never felt that anyone was trying to get me to tailor my work to a particular style, idea, etc - I always felt I was being pushed to work at the top of my game as an artist, activist, and intellectual, whatever I decided MY game was. The uniting factor in this community is that each of us are confidently, passionately, intelligently doing our OWN work, and supporting fellow artists who are also doing their own work. There is nothing more inspiring than working with artists who are confidently letting their brilliance run wild, and constantly encouraging other artists to do the same. Making the connection to the Hemispheric Institute has had a big effect on me - being exposed to and having the opportunity to immerse myself in an activist community that is fiercely artistic AND intellectual, that is connected to the art/performance/theatre world as well as academia, where folks are working at the top of their creativity and intelligence at the same time - this has felt like a kind of salvation. The struggle to be an activist in the theatre world and an artist in the activist world was one that I, and I think many of the other participants, articulated at the beginning of the program, but I did not realize that I also felt intellectually understimulated with my current collaborators and communities. When I'm with Hemifolk (at work and at play), I feel challenged intellectually, stimulated creatively, and fired up and supported as an activist."

"The way in which the space was almost immediately cultivated as 'safe' by everyone in the group, not just the facilitator, is extremely rare, and maybe one of the strongest components of the program. I have never ever been in such a non-oppressive space."

"I would describe the experience as a program grounded in theater of the oppressed, supported by multi-media artists and activist mentors, that support emerging artists in developing their artistic abilities and form community in real and tangible ways. I would describe it as an opportunity to look at oppression in the world and within myself. As an opportunity to push past the competitive lines drawn in NYC that create isolation and battling for crumbs, to forming genuine community. I would describe it as real love—for sure. I describe it as a space facilitated by George and supported by an amazing team of well rounded folks who genuinely care about us. It's artistic but more than that. Hence the performance is another step in the process vs. the culmination of the process. This will change your life!"