NOW 2023: Week Two

Vanessa Hernández Cruz, Melissa Ferrari, Kevin Williamson
Past event


The 20th Annual New Original Works Festival continues with a program of works by Vanessa Hernández Cruz, Melissa Ferrari (‘19), and Kevin Williamson. With a sharp interest in rituals, fantasies and memories, these works use history and technology to formulate diverse, other-worldly futures that provide a counterpart to our reality while allowing us to examine the injustices around us.


Vanessa Hernández Cruz

Exhale Static, Inhale Fumes

Exhale Static, Inhale Fumes, by Disabled dance artist and activist Vanessa Hernández Cruz, is a solo dance work that examines the contradiction of over-consuming social media to the point of feeling isolated and disconnected. Inspired by Cruz’s own experience with social media, screens and technology, as someone who counts on it as a way of survival like others in the Disabled community, this work ponders how technology can expand human connection, even if in today’s reality, we mostly communicate through our screens.


Melissa Ferrari

Relict: A Phantasmagoria

Artist and educator Melissa Ferrari’s (‘19) Relict: A Phantasmagoria is an experimental documentary performed with antique magic lanterns and digitally projected hand-drawn animation. Invoking the history of magic lantern phantasmagoria as an exercise in belief and perception, this work stays true to its history, structured as a series of vignettes that navigate through various landscapes and contemporary mythologies. Nestled in a collage of audio interviews, recent creationist sermons and excerpts of pseudoscientific wildlife documentaries, Ferrari considers the zeitgeist of pseudoscience, fake news, religion, and documentary ethics collapsed within contemporary cryptozoology.


Kevin Williamson

Safe and Sound

Saturated hues flood the dance floor in choreographer Kevin Williamson’s Safe and Sound, a meditation on self-preservation and solidarity where bodies morph through emotional states to combat anti-LGBTQ aggression. Shifting from punctuated tones of grief, abandonment and anger, to fluid strength and communal pleasure, this ode to alternative nightlife spaces is a sensual journey accompanied by a sound score from Anna Luisa Petrisko, film interludes by Taso Papadakis, and fashion designed by Kelsey Vidic.

Listen to Anna Luisa on Spotify


NOW 2023: Week Two will be presented as one shared program of triple bills on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Exhale Static, Inhale Fumes includes a film that will be presented with subtitles.

Please note: Exhale Static, Inhale Fumes contains loud and distorted sounds, glitching effects, and strobe lights; Relict: A Phantasmagoria contains gunshot sounds and strobe lights; Safe and Sound contains references to LGBTIQA+ hate speech, violence, and self-harm.


NOW 2023: Week One / NOW 2023: Week Three

New Original Works Festival 2023 is organized by Edgar Miramontes and Rolando Rodriguez with Sola Bamis (‘11), Dami Spain, and Rosanna Tavarez.

about the artists

Vanessa Hernández Cruz

Vanessa Hernández Cruz (she, her, ella) is an interdependent Chicana Disabled dance artist, filmmaker, visual artist, poet, & Disability Justice activist. She is from the unceded lands of the Tongva & Kizh lands colonially known as Los Angeles, California. She holds her BA in Dance Science from California State University Long Beach.

Over the past few years Vanessa’s work has been shown nationally & internationally. She has two exciting dance solos premiering this summer: Metal, Plastic, Skin debuting at The Odyssey Theatre’s Dance Festival and Exhale Static, Inhale Fumes with her debut at the REDCAT’s NOW Festival. In addition, slated for 2024, Vanessa along with Saira Barbaric & NEVE with the support of a grant from the Mellon Foundation, the three have co-founded Mouthwater Festival, a new Disabled arts festival happening in Seattle.

Earlier this year she was commissioned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) to create & perform a new work titled: La Lucha Sigue/The Fight Continues to celebrate & honor Corita Kent & Dolores Huerta. She recently was a guest speaker at Chapman University where Vanessa spoke about Disability dance & workshopped her contemporary ballet repertoire Nycto-Eternity. Vanessa was an artist-in-resident & collaborator for Bradford Chin’s dance MFA Thesis The world was ending, so they danced, & they were free at the University of California, Irvine.

In 2022, she 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 DCA to produce the dance film Los Portales del Corazón for their ‘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 x Pieter Parking Space Residency based in Los Angeles, CA where she produced her dance piece Exit?.

Her performances transcends through time, space, energy and most importantly through her ancestors. With this energy, she hopes to build community and to share the path that she is paving for future multi-marginalized Disabled artists. Through dance, community, and interdependence she believes that collective liberation can be achieved.

Instagram / Facebook / Website


Melissa Ferrari

Melissa Ferrari is a nonfiction filmmaker, experimental animation artist, magic lanternist and educator who seeks to acquaint folklores of the past with contemporary culture. In exposing peripheral histories, she aims to unveil the wonder that lies in the shadow of nonfiction, rather than fiction.

Originally from Virginia, Melissa is now based in Los Angeles where she received an Experimental Animation M.F.A. from CalArts. Her films and magic lantern performances have been shown internationally in venues such as Hot Docs, Hauser & Wirth LA, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Heritage Square Museum. Melissa was a 2022 Artist in Residence at the Camera Obscura Arts Lab in Santa Monica, CA. Recent awards include the 2020 Science Sandbox Symbiosis Award at the Imagine Science Film Festival for her film Fathomless (co-dir. Dr. Meilin Fernandez Garcia) and the Damer E. Waddington Red Cabbage Award at the 2022 Magic Lantern Society Convention.

Melissa currently teaches at CalArts and the LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts). In the past, she has taught animation and expanded cinema at Whittier College, Queens College & Cal State LA. Previously, Melissa worked as an animation artist at Dusty Studio in New York City, where her work was featured in The New York Times Op-Docs, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Nautilus, and PBS.

Instagram / Website


Kevin Williamson

Kevin Williamson is a Los Angeles born and based dance artist whose collaborative performance and film projects center around themes of queer belonging. A Lester Horton Award recipient, Bates Dance Festival Educators Fellow, and Center Theater Group Sherwood Finalist, his work has been presented throughout the U.S. and abroad. In addition, he has collaborated on theater and opera projects for Washington National Opera, Atlantic Theater Company, the Juilliard School, Geffen Playhouse, Yale Theater, and Opera UCLA. As a performer the past two decades, Kevin was a member of David Rousseve/REALITY, Maria Gillespie’s Oni Dance, LA Contemporary Dance Company, Robert Moses’ Kin, and David Gordon’s PickUpPerformance and danced in projects for Angelin Preljocaj, Julie Taymor, Ryan Heffington, Keith Johnson, Vic Marks, Cheng-chieh Yu and more. He received an MFA in Choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and is currently an Associate Professor of Dance at Scripps College.