My name is Suzanne Ryanstrati. This website is focused on career information, but if you peel that away, here is what you'll find:
I value honesty.
I find joy in the small stuff.
I like to create a safe environment for artists to thrive, centered on respect and creativity in an uplifting community.
I love learning. I have a Master in Fine Arts, seek continuing education and dive into research-based projects.
My upbringing in an inner-city church, my advanced education, life experiences, and the actions of my ancestors and parents greatly influenced my view of human value which influences areas of research, education, activism and casting choices today.
I am a humanitarian; interested in human rights since the 1980's Famine in Ethiopia and the International HIV/AIDS Epidemic. I believe all humans should have basic rights: food, clean water, food, shelter, safety and care. I investigate and advocate against that which deny these rights, as well as those listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
My activism is seen through public speaking, serving organizations or others in the community, through the artistic process with performers, in public presentations and in choreography. I am a supporter of civil rights, and have stood up against discrimination since 1983.
I value the knowledge and contributions of others from diverse generations, ethnicities, upbringings, family structures, economic upbringing, education, abilities and identities.
I am inspired by the Good Samaritan Story and yearn to demonstrate care, compassion and action towards others.
In 1990 Ryanstrati suffered a heat stroke when performing in an outdoor theater where temperatures reached 115 degrees. In 2012 Ryanstrati suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after one of her students accidentally kicked her in the head. This impact caused a concussion and brain hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), resulting in permanent brain damage. Despite the setbacks and hault to her performing career, she was determined to keep teaching and choreographing. It took strength and was difficult.
"When I was diagnosed with TBI my brain was still bleeding and swollen. I did things I was not supposed to do including sleeping alone and flying home on a plane after being a guest artist at a summer intensive in Texas. I knew something was very wrong, but as a dancer we learn a strong work-ethic and it is common to continue performing with injuries and pain. Initially I didn't now how serious my injury was. When flying home, I felt so ill that I had to lay down on the filthy carpet floor in the airport. Upon returning to Kansas City, I tried teaching company class for KACICO. I fell over and couldn't remember what I had just taught. After consulting a doctor, and having an MRI, I found out my brain was bleeding. One day, I started feeling a tingling down the side of my face and neck and thought I was having a stroke. I looked at myself in the mirror to see if my face was sagging. I had a religious experince in which I heard the following, 'It is not your time.' I felt a sense of calm as I headed off to the emergency room where I was informed my brain had swollen so much it was cutting off the circulation to the body.
I live with an invisible disability. It is difficult. It is frustrating. It is disheartening. It is also with GREAT thanks, strength and determination that I refuse to give up. My dance shoes aren't ready to be set aside yet! It is my deep desire to be a blessing to others each day." Suzanne
Ryanstrati has worked extensively with people living with visible and invisible disabilities or diagnosis. This started well before her own experience. Her work includes dancers with Multiple Sclerosis, Polio, Depression, Cystic Fibrosis, Bi-polar, Polio, Spina bifida, Anxiety, Osteoporosis, Attention Deficit Hypotension Disorder, Low vision/Blind, Brain Injury, Parkinson's Disease and conditions as a result of suicide attempt.
Photo: Her last performance before suffering the TBI
Photo: Image of her injury. Note the black circle on the upper right.