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DfAB Spotlight: Co-Executive Director Sonya Rio-Glick

Image Description: A photo of Sonya. She has shoulder-length, straight, black hair. She has fair skin and brown eyes. She is smiling and wearing pink lipstick. She is wearing a white, short-sleeved T-shirt. Her photo is taken against a red background.

Interviewer: What is your name and what are your preferred pronouns?

Sonya: Sonya Rio-Glick; she/her/hers

Interviewer: What drew you to join DfAB and in particular to the co-executive director role?

Sonya: I was first drawn to DfAB’s classes as a disabled dance enthusiast looking for welcoming movement opportunities through the period of isolation in the pandemic. I found DfAB through Laurel Lawson, who taught for DfAB last year. I was recruited for the position by Yagmur following doing a participant interview. Initially I was hesitant to accept the position, but I was really inspired by Yagmur and Tess’ collaborative and empathetic leadership style, and of course personally value(d) DfAB’s mission of accessibility and joy in dance. I was drawn to the co-executive role specifically because it presented an opportunity to refine my leadership and organizational skills, while working with others who understand and prioritize Disability Justice, which is a passion of mine.

Interviewer: What are your aspirations for the future of DfAB?

Sonya: In the future of Dance for All Bodies I have both programmatic and organizational goals. Programmatically, I’d like to build on the community aspect that our classes initiate- I’d like to start having intentional conversations about issues relevant to participants' lives to foster the social connectedness that’s at the core of our programming. Organizationally, I’d like to move our staff from one of volunteerism to a paid staff model. Our volunteers make DfAB’s programming possible, and it’s important to me that they are one day compensated for their contributions.

Interviewer: How do you engage with the arts outside of DfAB?

Sonya: I’ve been a longtime dance and theatre-maker. I began as an acting student before transitioning to studying Arts Management. I’ve worked extensively as an actor and writer on theatrical projects, and now focus my artistic energy on dance and choreography. I feel most present and at peace while dancing, and my favorite part of working for Dance for All Bodies is having a small part in bringing others a similar peace. Looking ahead, I am joining Full Radius Dance as a company dancer. I’m excited to get to learn from and dance with so many individuals who are bringing disability aesthetic to dance in real time.

Interviewer: What is your personal or professional motto?

Sonya: A couple mantra’s I use are “If you’re doing your best, you’re doing enough” and “trust the process.”

Interviewer: In times of needed inspiration, what do you turn to?

Sonya: When I need inspiration, I watch dance videos on Youtube and force myself to move my body for a few minutes at a time.

Interviewer: Out of your personal qualities and traits, of which are you most proud?

Sonya: I’m most proud of my sense of empathy and my sense of organization.

Interviewer: What characteristics do you most admire in other creative people?

Sonya: I most admire a sense of humility in other creative people; the understanding that to get to create is a privilege, and that it’s about the doing.

Interviewer: Name a person (past or present), whom you admire.

Sonya: I really admire AndreAs Neumman Mascis, a queer and disabled psychologist who has served as a personal mentor for me since I was a teenager. I also really admire DfAB’s co-founders, Yagmur Halezrolgu and Tess Hanson, because they started Dance for All Bodies while still full time students, just by their determination to bring accessible dance to more people.

Interviewer: Has learning from a mistake ever led you to success?

Sonya: Absolutely! There was a time in college where I was making myself do too much, too fast. Pushing myself that hard was ultimately a mistake that had a negative impact on my mental and physical health. Realizing this made me evaluate: why did I feel the need to push myself like this? What would happen if I allowed myself to rest? What kind of changes could I make to allow for this rest? Slowly as I began to answer these questions for myself, I created healthier day to day practices that allowed me to be my better self long term.

Interviewer: In times of adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

Sonya: In moments of adversity, I really turn to my communities of queer and/or disabled people. Hearing from folks who are experiencing similar things as myself, and learning about their joys, accomplishments, and dreams, remind me I’m part of something bigger than myself, and gives me hope for the future.

Interviewer: What do you feel like the world needs more of?

Sonya: I think the world needs more awareness of social-political realities and their implications of the everyday lives of individuals. The world also needs more people going out of their way to welcome others into the community, like how those I’ve had the pleasure of working with at DfAB have welcomed me into their community.

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