Suzanne Ryan, TBI, Brain Injury, M. Suzanne Ryan, Ryanstrati, Strati, Dance, Choreographer, A Tulip Unfolding, Choreographer, Teacher, Compassion, Storytelling
Suzanne Ryanstrati, Mary Suzanne Ryan, dance, modern, brain injury, TBI, choreographer, dancer, A Tulip Unfolding

Artist Statement

I seek to tell stories about the humanities through dance. 


I am a descendent of an immigrant who arrived in America by boat in 1640 and was sold into indentured servitude. My researched-based choreographic work explores the human condition in order to bring awareness to human rights and value.

My current area of investigation is primary source personal or family stories told by the elderly. I want to honor them with a sense of value and capture their human experiences while seeking to preserve a snapshot of where they are before the experiences fade or disappear when they pass away.

Personal Statement

This is a photo of Ryanstrati dancing. It was her last performance before her stage career abruptly ended.


In 2012 Ryanstrati suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after one of her students accidentally kicked her in the head. This resulted in permanent brain damage. Despite the setbacks and impact to her dance career, she was determined to keep teaching and choreographing. Since then, she has thrived as a choreographer, receiving so many opportunites to teach and choreograph that each year she has to regrettably pass up some artistic opportunities.


"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 believed the words were from the Holy Spirit, and felt a sense of calm as I headed off to the emergency room where I found out that my brain had swollen so much it was cutting off the circulation to the body. 


I live with an invisible disability.  It is with GREAT thanks, strength and determination that I refuse to give up.  It is my deep desire to be a blessing to others each day."