Turning Setbacks into Comebacks


In this episode of DanceCast, Silva interviews Zazel-Chavah O’Garra, founder and artistic director of ZCO/DANCE PROJECT, a physically integrated dance company in New York City. Zazel shares the story of her benign brain tumor that left her partially paralyzed and how she began her dance company after performing at the Brain Tumor Foundation’s Awareness Day. She also discusses what her company is doing to stay active through the pandemic, how she works to prepare students with disabilities to pursue a career in the arts, and why she urges dance majors in college to pursue double majors.


Zazel sitting on floor

Photo by Gordon Sasaki

A native New Yorker, Zazel-Chavah O’Garra attended the University of Michigan and Empire State College where she received a BA in Dance Performance. She performed with Mark Dendy Dance Company and Alvin Ailey Wksp II, as well as Off-Broadway and in numerous musical theater stage productions in the US and abroad. She has also worked as a professional model. In 2003, Zazel discovered she had meningioma, a benign brain tumor, which proceeded to paralyze her right side and resulted in a slight speech impediment and cognitive loss. She transitioned into teaching dance as a healing form and founded her physically integrated dance company, ZCO/DANCEPROJECT. She is passionate about raising public awareness about the challenges facing and the gifts offered by those with disabilities.

To learn more, visit www.zcodanceproject.com.

Zazel dancing with scarf

Photo by Wendy Powell