Norah Zuniga Shaw

Professor and Director of Dance and Technology Contact: zuniga-shaw dot 1 at osu dot edu

Livable Futures Co-Director
As Project Co-Director, Norah Zuniga Shaw, helped conceptualize Livable Futures and is focused on performance as a response to ecological crisis and new forms of teaching and learning that spark action.


With a background in choreography and environmental science, I am an interdisciplinary artist working in a blend of mediums and genres from live sound and movement performance, to data visualization, film, interactive media installations, virtual reality, writing, artist walks and participatory theater. At heart, I am deeply interdisciplinary and find that my best work involves collaboration and the successful leadership of creative teams.

My influences range from ecological and systems theory to the wanderings of the situationists, to the practices of radical inclusion in community dance theater, intercultural, and queer studies, and the aesthetic iterative play of design and architecture.

I present and publish frequently on themes at the intersection of our bodies and our technologies and my artworks have been exhibited at such venues as the Pompidou Center Paris, Sadler's Wells London, Hebbel Theater Berlin, Taipei Arts Festival, Spring Dance Utrecht and the Chicago Humanities Festival and online to millions of viewers.

At Ohio State, I am a Professor of Dance with a joint appointment at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) where I use feminist and inclusive pedagogical approaches to teach courses in interdisciplinary research and composition, dance improvisation, theories of the body and applied technologies. 

Q & A

What makes more livable futures for you?  

Resilience. Engagement. Creative Solutions. Action. Love. Turning toward the stuff that scares me. About five years ago I started bringing climate change into my practices as a choreographer and performer and have co-created three new works the latest of which, Lecture on Climate, is a public dialog and reckoning through movement and computer music improvisation. I’m finding Adrienne Maree Brown’s text Emergent Strategy to be exactly what I need as an antidote to current cultural trends. Her call to collaborate as a means of survival is at the heart of Livable Futures as is her emphasis on the importance of embodied and creative practices in social and environmental justice efforts.  

What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?   

I listen to On Being a lot and Adrienne Maree Brown’s podcast “How to Survive at the End of the World.” I read Seth Godin’s blog every morning, he’s in marketing and tech mostly but I appreciate his ongoing theme of creating in ways that matter to other people, now. Laura Rendon’s wonderful text, Sentipensante on inclusive pedagogy, Latinx identities and feminist practices is always near at hand. And I’ve been actively working to center brownness in my life and seeking out experiences that serve as antidotes to the misogyny that so permeates the culture. This has led me to read every novel I can get my hands on by N.K. Jemisin and Octavia Butler of course, Kevin’s Young’s poetry and I’m re-reading Richard Rodriguez’ memoires. I fell in love with a new Joan Jonas work I saw at the MOMA on the arctic and can’t get it out of my head and I love Sam Green’s piece on Bucky Fuller as a an exemplar in the combined lecture and performance and activism genre. I keep an eye on Eiko Otake’s work at all times, Gabri Christa and Michelle Ellsworth, they give me joy and inspiration. I have a long-term interest in counterpoint, complexity and emergent systems and I have a theory that Fugues might serve as a mindfulness practice to support living in a way that foster diversity and difference. But that puts me back in a white male space so I don’t stay there long. I saw an exhibit on the history of Disco at the Vitra Museum in Germany this summer and discovered a love for early House music I didn’t know I had and of course PJ Harvey’s good when I need to rage.

What practices are sustaining you? 

Gaga community dance classes whenever we have one here in town; computer music/sound improvisation rehearsals with my fabulous community of co-creators at ACCAD; reading climate change facts and figures and collaging them into a notebook I have with images of the arctic, ice, artists, polar bears etc; reading and viewing and discussing Livable Futures with our leadership team; walking in the forests and prairies around Columbus with my family; and watching for Monarch butterflies coming to my little backyard prairie patch at last. Thank you milkweed! I’ve also started going to protests again, not with any hope of political outcome but for communion.