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Introducing NC State Community’s Immigration Stories

NC State's Immigration Stories

The elements below are part of a new online project between The Dance Program and Arts NC State. You can view the entire project online. We would like to extend a special thank you to Justin Hammond from DASA for all of his help and guidance.

Looking into the mirror, you will see traces of your ancestors. The physical features, the movements, gestures and expressions… your parents, grandparents and back through the generations are right there in your DNA.

Only .09 percent of today’s U.S. population is Indigenous, meaning that the remaining population descended from immigrants, or are immigrants themselves. The promise of a better life in America has been a beacon of light for people for centuries—and still is.

For Tara Zaffuto Mullins, director of the NC State Dance Program, the story of her paternal grandmother’s immigration from Sicily, Italy, to New York in the early 1900s called to her in a very personal way.

Immigrant Story Inspired Creation of “Against the Railing”

Mullins first choreographed Against the Railing in 2007. At the time, it was about her grandmother’s journey and the sacrifices her grandmother made in her own life, and for the lives of her children. In the original choreographed piece there are two characters at first: a soloist dancer and a trunk – the kind that people brought with them when immigrating. Later in the performance they are joined by more dancers; collectively they move through the story of courage, loss, opportunity and new beginnings.

NC State Community’s Immigration Stories

With the current conversations about immigration, Mullins decided to expand the piece to include more sections, as well as filmed immigration stories from NC State faculty, staff and students.

The Dance Program and Arts NC State teamed up to create an online project that will house these interviews. More videos will be added to the site throughout the year. We hope you enjoy learning about these stories as much as we enjoyed telling them.

Interested in Telling Your Story?

Mullins hopes to continue the filmed immigration story project on a greater scale with more faculty and staff. If you are interested in sharing your family’s immigration story, contact Mullins, at tzmullin@ncsu.edu.