Exclusive: Interview with Zahna Moss

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Written by Thomsen Young and you can follow him @

Zahna Moss, born and raised in San Francisco and deaf from birth, started her dance training with City Ballet School in San Francisco. She expanded her dance background when she was accepted to San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) by training with Elvia Marta in Modern, Jazz, African, Ballet, Hip Hop and Choreography as well as participating in Alonzo King’s LINES Pre-Professional Summer Programs. Upon graduating from SOTA in 2003, Zahna attended UCI to double major in Chemistry and Dance. At UCI she trained and performed in over 20 performances in various dance styles, working with fellow peers, graduate students and distinguished faculty such as Lisa Naugle, David Allan and Donald McKayle. In 2008 Zahna received a BS in Chemistry and a BFA in Dance performance and moved to San Diego to pursue her Chemistry career. In San Diego, Zahna performed with the Mesa College Dance Company, with CAC Repertory Dance Theatre (CACRDT), Bite Dance Company, Visionary Dance Theatre and in Jean Isaac’s Trolley Dances 2013 while simultaneously working for Vertex Pharmaceuticals for 5 years as a Senior Research Associate in Analytical Chemistry. As of August of 2014 she relocated to Bay Area and immediately jumped into ODC’s Next Moves intensive and the Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival. Since then she’s been performing with Urban Jazz and recently became the rehearsal director under Antoine Hunter.

Serious Questions:

At what point did realize that you wanted be a dancer for the rest of your life?

–I’ve always known since I started dancing at age 9 that I would be dancing for the rest of my life some way some how if not professionally. After I graduated from college I decided that I was done performing and went through a few phases of not dancing…Dance always found a way to reel my heart back in and I found myself involved with classes, companies and performances. My chemistry career and social life took a higher precedence while I lived in San Diego but my heart was always longing for more movement. Then in November 2013, I had LEEP surgery to remove precancerous cells to prevent cervical cancer and was forced to take a 6-week hiatus from dancing. The turmoil of not being able to dance those 6 weeks woke me up and I realized I needed to change my life and make my passion my priority. “Ignoring your passion is a slow suicide, never ignore what your heart pumps for. Mold your career around your lifestyle, not your lifestyle around your career.”

What is your best performance that you’re proud of so far?

–I have performed countless times over the past 20 years so I can’t really pinpoint one particular performance I’m proud of as there were several and there will be many more.

If you could give a young dancer advice based on your experiences so far, what would you recommend that he/she should do?

–First of all, take care of your body. Always warm up, stretch everyday and be committed to keeping up with exercises that will keep your body strong, young and able to dance for the rest of your life. Second, stay humble and learn as much as you can from different people. Variety is the spice of life and versatility will take you far in your dance career. Third, never give up. Persistence pays off in the long run and there will always be good days and bad days but each day is designed to help you grow in the ways you need to. Four, passion and heart is everything. Really enjoy what you are doing as the present is now and it only happens once.

What kind of training did you put in for Kiss Louder/The Silence? Was the performance a success? In your own words, what do you feel like was the pinnacle moment in your performance for Kiss Louder/The Silence??

–I always continue to take an average of 6-8 classes a week to keep up my technique and continue to improve it. In addition to this we had rehearsals 4 hours a week, 2 of those hours just Antoine and myself and the other 2 hours with the rest of the group for about 5 weeks. Antoine had already choreographed most of our duet for a performance back in November so he continued to develop it and incorporated the rest of the group. The performance was definitely a success, the dance evolved into something powerful. I connected with everyone involved as well as the audience, the audience and our fans loved it and they want to see more, and we got a glowing review with the biggest paragraph of anyone else in the show in the SF Chronicles. It’s difficult to put the feeling of the pinnacle moment of my performance in words…I felt that we created something powerful and deep together that touched many people.

What are your future plans?

–Dance plain and simple…Realistically I plan to continue working with Antoine. I recently became his rehearsal director and am becoming a lot more involved with Urban Jazz. I want to network across the deaf and artistic communities both domestically and internationally, bring deaf artists together and continue to educate and expose our achievements to the hearing community. My dream has always been to work and perform with other deaf dancers, we are more powerful as an entity than individually.

Since #deaftalent is trending all over the internet right now, do you have any thoughts on what #deaftalent means to you?

–#deaftalent to me means bringing light to those who have artistic passions and the motivation/drive/creativity/dedication to express their passions and being recognized for them.

Completely Silly Random Questions:

If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?

–alchemist

If you had only six months left to live, what would you do with the time?
–I would pack up a bag and travel all over the world. See and experience as much as I can and dance as much as I can internationally and/or domestically.
You have the choice to live with a gorilla who knows sign language or a dog who sings lullabies, which do you choose? 
–Gorilla who signs, more stimulating entertainment
If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
–Teleportation so I can go anywhere anytime instantly
If you were a Star Trek® [or Star Wars® ] character, which one would it be?
–Yoda, I love his wisdom ☺
My favorite part: The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot on his show Apostrophes, after the Proust Questionnaire.
The ten questions Lipton asks are:
Zahna Moss @ Mount Rainer 6,800 feet
What is your favorite word?
–Purity
What is your least favorite word?
–Hate
What turns you on?
–Books
What turns you off?
–Un-authenticity in people and life
What sound or noise do you love?
–Never thought about this
What sound or noise do you hate?
–Never thought about this
What is your favorite curse word?
–Damn
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
–I’ve always wanted try out being a photographer but lately I’ve had my eyes set on being a nutritionist/health coach due to my deep involvement in the Organic and non GMO movement these past two years.
What profession would you not like to do?
–Waitress
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
–Here’s a map to all the dance studios up here

–Link to the San Diego KPBS special they did on me in October 2013: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/sep/27/deaf-dancer-performs-trolley-dances/

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