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Between us

I would like to share with you my journey as an Afro-Puerto Rican woman, artist, educator, folklorist, and member of a complex and beautiful, diverse city. I was born in New York City and raised crossing a cultural bridge between New York and Puerto Rico.  Growing up I faced the challenges of construing a dual identity to fit the systems that wanted to define me. I also developed a dual language that allowed me to be creative in the way I communicated.  As a child, I was not aware of how those transcultural and at times confusing experiences were necessary to prepare me to embrace my calling. I love learning, teaching, and believe in services that are rooted in relationships and trust.  I was blessed to have great role models that inspired me to value creativity and have a fluid perspective to become resilient. They taught me that it is not about the goal but how we shape the journey that makes one successful. I am a certified educator with an MFA in Dance and a BA in Language Arts and have dedicated twenty years of my life to teaching in public schools in urban communities in Puerto Rico. I developed my artistry in dance, focusing on Afro-Puerto Rican (Bomba) dance since 1998. I founded and directed Nandí, the first female Afro-Puerto Rican music ensemble in Puerto Rico, which spearheaded a women’s drummer’s movement that began in 2006 to the present. I have collaborated as an artistic director in cultural projects in the US, and I am an artivist. I love creating safe, inclusive, joy-based learning spaces where people can heal, connect, and express themselves authentically. I founded Paso Negro a cultural not profit organization in San Juan, Puerto Rico to develop Afro-Puerto Rican cultural and educational projects and eventually Paso Negro became my artistic name.  Since 2014 I have directed after-school programs, designed multidisciplinary, anti-racist curriculums, and art projects focused on supporting underserved communities in The Bronx. I continue to collaborate with NYC-based artists and organizations as a Creatives Rebuild New York grantee to help members of their communities reach their full potential, celebrate their culture, create awareness around social justice, inspire them to have a voice, and give them the visibility that instills a sense of self-advocacy and representation through the arts.  I collaborate with a team of agents of change that bless my work.  I recently manifested a dream that enables me to continue creating collaborative artistic bridges and educational projects for future generations. I named my dream O Team, and share this dream with you so that together we can plant a seed of inspiration for change and hope. Let's work together and be about it, let's plan together and gift others with an experience that reaffirms our identity as Afro-Indigenous people.

Oxil Febles

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