Pioneers Go East Collective centers the voices of LGBTQ members of our community in New York City and beyond. Since 2010, the collective of social practitioners and artmakers has been in-residence at arts and cultural centers throughout New York City. Presenting original works by a collective of multigenerational artists, our creative and social platforms of inclusion bring to the forefront the vulnerabilities still faced by our community.



Pioneers Go East Collective creates interdisciplinary performance that merges storytelling and video documentary of real events. Since 2010 the collective has been a proud company-in-residence at La MaMa, the historical arts complex in the East Village founded by Ellen Stewart. Recently we have been awarded a 2018-19 residency at Judson Church, one of the first avant-garde dance theater in New York City since the 1950's.

The collective explores LGBTQ+ and feminist stories that are not usually investigated and which reflect social-political vulnerabilities and otherness as a way towards provoking thought, casting impressionistic shadows.

Inspired by Walt Whitman’s powerfully evocative poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” that pays homage to fearless courage, we are a collective of ‘pioneers’ set out to find a brighter future and record memories of collective and individual vulnerability and resilience. As ‘pioneers’ on a long journey, the collective finds and records memories of collective and individual courage to challenge audiences in emotionally charged yet accessible performances.

Gian Marco Lo Forte, Daniel Diaz, Julia Dobner-Pereira, Philip Treviño lead the collective in collaboration with a community of like-minded writers, performers, musicians, and visual artists. The collective has been widely presented in NYC at La MaMa, A.R.T./New York venues, St Ann’s Warehouse, Governors Island as part of Process Space Residency, The Silent Barn, Astor Alive Festival, Estrogenius Festival, Incubator Arts Project/ Ontological Hysteric, Triskelion Arts/ The Exponential Festival, Dixon Place, Performance Mix/New Dance Alliance in partnership withHERE, Chashama Gallery in Harlem, Goethe Institut Gallery/ Wyoming Building.


Since 2010 Pioneers Go East Collective develops works inspired by historical and social events, scientists, artists and spiritual leaders who have influenced the World. PGEC works include GEMINI stars - inspired by LGBTQ+ vloggers coming out on youtube juxtaposed to gay bashing on the internet; AMERICAN MILL No. 2 –based on interviews from the textile belt of the South (A.R.T/New York ‘16); MJ WAS INNOCENT, the story of Queer artist Burke that challenges the expected values of the LGBTQ+ community (HOT Festival; Performance Mix/ HERE ‘15); HILDEGARD (vision) about spiritual leader Hildegard Von Bingen, and her transcendence of gender confines through her creative process (St Ann’s Warehouse & Governors Island, 2013-14); MARIA CELESTE (GALILEO) based on the epistolary correspondence between Maria Celeste and her father Galileo (Incubator Arts Project ‘14); 7AM based on St Francis visions (IAP ‘13); S16 based on Pirandello’s story of boys working in sulfur mines (La MaMa ‘12); The Birds and The Wolf live video installation (Chashama/Harlem Gallery, and Goethe Institut  ’11-‘12). Upcoming: GEMINI STARS based on LGBTQ+ vloggers coming out on youtube (The Silent Barn ‘16/ The Exponential Festival 2017). PGEC awards: Puffin Foundation 2013; LMCC (2011-2015); Nancy Quinn Fund (2015); PGEC are affiliate artists with New Victory LabWorks program 2015/16. Upcoming: American Mill No. 2 at A.R.T./ New York; GEMINI Stars at The Silent Barn in 2016/17.


Gian Marco Lo Forte - artistic director/ writer & director

Daniel Diaz - resident writer, choreographer & lead performer

Julia Dobner-Pereira - development advisor/ resident artist

Philip Treviño - resident designer 

Agosto Machado - resident artist

Maura Nguyen Donohue - resident choreographer

Parijat Desai - resident Choreographer

Hao Bai - resident sound designer

Poorna Swami - development associate

John Issendorf - marketing consultant

Joyce Isabelle - development consultant

 Carolina Restrepo - graphic designer

Board of Directors

Daniel Barry - president

Margaret Browne - secretary

Rhoda Cosme - treasurer

Jean Carbain  - board member

Gian Marco Lo Forte - board member

Honorary Board of Directors: Beverly PettyAnnina Nosei, and Nicky Paraiso


Daniel Diaz (writer, choreographer & lead performer) joined the collective as a resident artist in 2013. With a focus on modern street and interpretive dance, he has designed choreography for several influential New York musicians including Shadow Lover, Omega Jarden and more. Daniel performs at major local venues including PS1 MOMA, The Brooklyn Museum, The Coney Island Sideshow, Joe’s Pub, Dixon Place, Triskelion Arts and most recently at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. He has also performed at various nightlife spots up and down the east coast. Daniel’s passion draws him to aspects beyond dance including performance art and set design, branding him a “Creature of the Stage”.

Gian Marco Lo Forte (director, writer, video-maker): Gian Marco is a New York based artist and artist-in-residence at La MaMa. Gian Marco founded Pioneers Go East Collective (the collective) in 2010, which has developed interdisciplinary media projects with music and poetry for social change. In addition to his work with the collective, Gian Marco is Curator of SOUND DEPARTURES at La MaMa and Assistant Curator of La MaMa Moves Festival. Gian Marco's directing and design work was presented at La MaMa, Irondale theatre, Dixon Place, Galapagos; HERE; Art on Air/ Clock Tower Gallery; and he designed for The Foundry, Pan Asian Rep; Magis Co; Watson Arts; Operating Theatre; Slant; May Adrales; Ernest Abuba; Alvin Eng; Kevin Augustine; Kim Ima; Ellen Stewart. Gian Marco is in residence with Great Jones Rep and has designed at Biennale di Venezia and toured in Europe. Awards: New York State Council of the Arts (2017-19); Lower Manhatan Cultural Council (’11 -‘15; and 17-18); Incubator Arts Project Residency ('13 & '14); The Puffin Foundation (’12 & '14, '16); Chashama Residency (’12); Opera America - Director & Design Award (’10). MFA NYU (’09).

Julia Dobner-Pereira (writer and performer) is a queer theatre artist and current graduate student at NYU, studying drama therapy. She is passionate about incorporating spontaneous play and humor into the therapeutic space. For her master’s thesis, she is researching the relationship between isolation and aggression in incarcerated men by conducting a meta-synthesis of existing literature and through a close examination of the therapeutic dynamics in her individual research with a client on Bellevue’s Forensic Psychiatric Unit. With PGEC, she uses her drama therapy training to examine queer relational dynamics and how bullying and aggression has an impact on the psyche of queer individuals. Julia supported Gian Marco in writing GEMINI STARS, and will collaborate as a lead artist on SCORPIO STARS and SAGITTARIUS STARS. As a performer, Julia trained at Smith College with Ellen Kaplan (acting) and Judith Gray (vocal performance) and in NYC with Ken Schatz and Mitchell Raftery. As a director and deviser, Julia has trained with MOTUS, Belarus Free Theatre, Jessica Litwak, and Nisha Sajnani (Arts Based Research). Recent NYC Performance Credits: Gemini Stars (PGEC, Triskelion Arts Space, The Silent Barn), American Mill #2 (PGEC, La MaMa), The Oblate Cycle: Maria Celeste (PGEC, La MaMa), Light & Shadow (Yara Arts, La MaMa), Fire. Water. Night. (Yara Arts, La MaMa).

Philip Treviño (resident designer) is a 2010 recipient of a New York Dance and Performance Award (BESSIE) for his lighting and scenic design for Pam Tanowitz’s Be In The Gray With Me. He is also the scenic designer for Camille A. Brown and Company’s Mr. Tol E. Rance, which won a 2014 BESSIE for Outstanding Production. Recently, he designed lights for Catherine Cabeen/Hyphen Give Me More at Theater for the New City and Pioneers Go East Collective's Gemini Stars/Scorpio Stars at La MaMa directed by Gian Marco Lo Forte. Some of his other credits in lighting and scenic design can be seen in works by Brian Brooks Moving Company, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Henning Rübsam’s Sensedance, Kymera Dance, Pam Tanowitz Dance and Chris Tanner/Brandon Olson’s Ravaged by Romance at LaMaMa. His work has toured nationally, internationally and at such notable venues as BAM, The Joyce, Joyce Soho, DTW, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Kitchen, La MaMa ETC., New York City Center and Jacob’s Pillow. He has Stage Managed for Trisha Brown Dance Company and José Limón Dance Company as well as Production Stage Managed for Wally Cardona Quartet’s Everywhere and SITE, Kate Weare Company, Christopher Williams’ The Golden Legend and many more. He is a proud alumnus of San Francisco State University where he received a BA in Drama and a Minor in Music. Philip is the current Technical Director for the Dance Department at Marymount Manhattan College where he teaches Stagecraft for Dance.

Agosto Machado (Performer, Artist, Activist) Performer, Artist, Activist and Witness, is best known for his work with Ellen Stewart's La Mama, his association with Jack Smith, Mario Montez, Jackie Curtis, John Vaccaro , Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Marsha P Johnson, Ronald and Harvey Tavel, Ethyl Eichelberger and Peter Hujar. Agosto appeared in over 30 Off-Off Broadway plays by Ken Bernard, Jackie Curtis, Al Carmines, Harvey Fierstein, H.M. Koutoukas, Megan Terry, Jeff Weiss. A member of John Vaccaros' 'Playhouse of the Ridiculous'.

Mike Cotayo (performer & writer) At the age of eighteen months old, a near fatal car crash turned life around for Mike. He was severely injured due to a drunk driving accident. He had a Traumatic Brain Injury receiving a diagnosis of acquired cerebral palsy. Now an adult living with a physical disability Mike realizes that the best medicine is laughter, and his goal is to medicate the whole world (or at least three of his family members). When Mike was asked to perform on The Cringe Humor Show at The Laugh Factory in Times Square, it created a ripple effect that is still going. As a result of this show his work has been sold on iTunes, and he was aked to co-write a screenplay based on a stand up comedian with a disability. He also garnered many other opportunities such as performing on Shock Jock Radio Shows "Opie & Anthony" and "Howard Stern TV" He was also featured on Comcast Television's "Your Morning Philadelphia." His Jokes have been featured in Love's Funny That Way; Squeaky Clean Comedy; and Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive. He was also featured in an article in "Advance Magazine," alongside Josh Blue. In addition to performing regularly at New York City Clubs, Mike continues to headline colleges across the country. Selected campuses include Kansas State University, Binghamton University, and Columbia University. & 

Hao Bai (resident sound designer) works as a designer & technician in lights, sound, & video, and occasionally photographer. As a Gemini, she has been working with the Pioneers Go East Collective for couple years and is glad to work on Gemini Stars with so many great artists. Selected recent credits: sound design: Paisieu (Target Margin), Puppet-Shows (Loco7), The Violin (59E59); video & sound design: American Mill #2 (A.R.T/New York Theatres); lighting & sound design: TELE-VISION, Gemini Stars (Triskelion Arts); Sound Departures (La Mama); lighting design: La Mama Moves!; Kate Bornstein; ADITL (La Mama); The Plain of Jars (NYU), Being (NYU), Shasta Geaux Pop (CAC, Cincinnati), "Medusa" and "Oddity" (TNC); lighting & set design: House or Home (Park Avenue Armory); The Workroom (One Art Space); video editing and assistant set designer for The Golden Toad and Burnished by Grief (by The Talking Band); production assistant & photographer for Prophetika: An Oratorio and Can I Get a Witness (dir. Charlotte Brathwaite at La Mama & Harlem Stage).

Maura Nguyen Donohue (choreographer) has been making dance-based performance works in NYC since 1995. Her solo and inmixedcompany group works have been produced and presented in NYC at Dance Theater Workshop (now NY Live Arts), PS 122, Danspace Project, La Mama, and Mulberry St. Theater and have toured across the US and to Canada, Europe and Asia. She is an assistant professor in dance at Hunter College, writes for Culturebot, and serves on the NY Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies) committee and Movement Research’s artist advisory council. She has collaborated with Adam on projects for La Mama Moves, The Asia Society, and Pioneers Go East Collective.

Parijat Desai (choreographer) India-born, U.S.-raised choreographer/dancer Parijat Desai creates hybrids of contemporary and Indian classical dance, martial art, theater, and other forms. The New York Times has said Parijat “moves with lush attack” and called her work “a seamless blending of new and old.” Parijat (BA, Stanford University, anthropology with honors; MFA, UCLA, choreography) began her company in Los Angeles in 2000, then continued in New York City 2004–2013. Since then, she been developing independent projects with diverse collaborators.Parijat is ever seeking ways to build bridges across movement languages—“a rejoinder, both physical and verbal, to the sentiment” (NYT) of xenophobia. In recent projects like her solo O.O.F. (studies in the opposite of fear) and her ensemble work JustLikeThat/Maya, Parijat explores language and movement. She also has created site-based choreography at Islamic heritage sites in New Delhi, India (The Palace Is Dreaming, forthcoming short film), at Ahmedabad's modernist ATMA Building designed by Le Corbusier (Passage). She has developed participatory protest choreography (Freedom. Safety. NOW.) and socially engaged works like her meditation After Oak Creek following the attacks on the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI. Core to Parijat's work is a love of music. Parijat has frequently collaborated with musicians experimenting within and outside of Carnatic and Hindustani music traditions, including several members of Brooklyn Raga Massive. In these interactions, she brings a commitment to understanding music through self-study and direct dialogue with music artists. Parijat was awarded a Summer 2018 rehearsal residency through CUNY Dance Initiative. She has also been an artist-in-residence through Movement Research (2016–17), Tribeca Performing Arts Center (2009–12), and Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (2009). She has been awarded artistic residencies through Colorado College (2017), the Fulbright/Nehru India Program (2013–14), Dance Center/Columbia College (2013), Skirball Cultural Center/LA (2007), and Queens Museum/Dance in Queens (2005). Parijat has received commissions from Grand Performances (LA), Danspace Project, and Harlem Stage. She won the Lester Horton Dance Award for Individual Performance, and NYFA BUILD, LMCC Creative Communities Grant, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, and Arts International Grant. She was nominated for a 2019 United State Artists Fellowship. Parijat’s work has been presented at venues including La Mama, Danspace Project, Asia Society, Queens Museum, PS122, and PioneerWorks (NYC); Skirball Cultural Center, California Plaza, and J. Paul Getty Center (LA); ODC Theater and Asian Art Museum (San Francisco); Denver Art Museum; Northwestern University (Chicago); The Dance Centre (Vancouver); and National Centre for the Performing Arts (Mumbai). Parijat teaches contemporary dance and contemporary bharata natyam, and leads Dance In The Round, workshops for all ages based on Garba and Raas, circle dances from Gujarat, India. She has taught at various colleges and school and at studios including Mark Morris Dance Center and Peridance. She has also taught actors through Theater Mitu New York Artist Intensive and Cornerstone Theater (LA). in September 2018, Parijat will teach an intensive through Stanford University in New York.

Beth Graczyk (choreographer & performer) is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, performer and a scientist. Graczyk has performed throughout the United States and internationally in Japan, Ecuador, France and India for the past 17 years. Concurrently, she has contributed to 11 science publications in the field of cancer research. She co-directed the performance company, Salt Horse with collaborators Corrie Befort & Angelina Baldoz (2008-2016). In 2016, Graczyk launched a solo performance project calledDesire Motor. The inaugural soloBeast, was produced by Gibney’s Work Up 3.0 program, and presented through Movement Research, CPR's Spring Movement Festival, Greenspace and toured to the Harrisburg Dance Festival (PA) and Corridor Festival (WA). Her most recent work,One of You Is Fake was presented by La MaMa Moves Festival in 2017, Marble House Project (VT), NAP program (PA), Oye Group’s Avant-Garde night and their One Catches Light Festival at Jack, andMovement Research at the Judson Church. Graczyk has most recently danced for Raja Kelly, Sara Shelton Mann, Mark Haim, K.J. Holmes, and works part-time as a Research Specialist at Rockefeller University.

Rina Espiritu (choreographer & performer) is an NYC local artist with a U.S. green card. Born and raised in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines, she moved to NYC with her family in 2005 and has been living in Queens. As a young immigrant in college she found her passion in performance and started her dance training in sophomore year against her family's wishes. She majored in Dance and has a minor in Asian American Studies and Psychology at Hunter College. Her debut work premiered in the fall of 2014 titled Pacified. She finished college work in Spring of 2016. She aims to reflect the human expression of the inner turmoil that is felt when made aware of powerlessness and lack of freedom in certain situations. Inspired by the illusion of free will and the power of situations, she has been propelled to bouts of activity to make the necessary changes in keeping her disrupted life as an artist. The main driver for these bouts of activity have been her need to experience the sociality of rehearsing with performers and spending time in studios. Without it, she tend to spend most of her days in bed or in the couch. She's convinced that it's the people that's going to propel her out of bed and it has been true so far. Her works have been shown at various places in NYC: the Dixon Place, La MaMa, Jack Crystal Theater, Brooklyn Studios for Dance (BkSD), Kaye Playhouse, Center for Performance Research, Judson Memorial Church, HECK Brooklyn, Chez Bushwick, The Works Studio, the Delancey, Abrons Art Center, Socrates Sculpture Park, Eden's Expressway, Green Space, Mark Morris Dance Group, Alchemical Theater Laboratory, the Woods Cooperative, El Jardin del Paraiso, Maxon Mills Porch in Wassaic, and Muriel Schulman Theater. She plays with movements she can do with her body and sharing it to other performers. She uses imagery and experiences as directions to share a way of moving with other performers specific to the work at hand. Costumes are decided before the physical rehearsals. She thinks about non-traditional ways to make a performance because her body and mind is unlike the traditional dancer. Currently, she's using the second SONA of Pres. Rogrido Duterte as her main text while performing. She wonders about the role of art sites in perpetuating certain kinds of art. She enjoys knowing about other people's subversion to the usual ways of the world. Daydreaming, re-framing, and imagining over and over again an alternative to reality. While immersed on finding ways to represent entrapment in our own physical body, by the structural systems we participate in and by our individual thought processes, she is also looking for a way out. Her work is a matter of life and death. She is resuscitating her spirit through her creative works.  RESUSCITATION = DECOLONIZATION.

Catrin Lloyd-Bollard (musician and storyteller) is a company member of the Brooklyn-based experimental theater company Title:Point and hosts and co-curates their monthly SalON! series (now running 2+years consecutively). She performs her solo music project CATFOX regularly around Brooklyn and La MaMa as part of Sound Departures music series, and in 2015 released her debut album, ZOÖMAGNESIS. She has most recently acted onstage with Title:Point (THE CHROMA KEY, BITER (EVERY TIME I TURN AROUND), NEVER ODD OR EVEN), Object Collection (IT'S ALL TRUE premiere in Bergen, Norway), and Buran Theatre; on film/video in Inappropriate Production's forthcoming horror feature THE MOOSEHEAD OVER THE MANTEL, Lamb of God's music video EMBERS, and several shorts and music videos; and performs the voice of Olympia on Cartoon Network's POKÉMON XYZ. |

Brittane Rowe (musician and storyteller)  is a musician originally from Detroit who has been influenced by Gospel music and Gospel blues.. She is a resident artist with Pioneers Go East Collective and has been living in NYC for the past six years working in original music theatre and as a background singer for indie bands. She primarily works at The Flea Theatre where she is a member of the Acting Company “The Bats”.  You can find her performing in “Gemini Stars” at The Exponential Festival and La MaMa, Sound Departures Music Series at La MaMa and at A.R.T./ New York in “American Mill No. 2” with Pioneers Go East Collective this year.

Ombro de Oro (singer and performer) - Ombro de Oro is a singer, songwriter and performer from Bogota, Colombia.His work deals with the intersection of politics and daily life, and has been featured at La MaMa, Dixon Place, Judson Church and The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. He has performed previously in Erin Markey’s Puppy Love: A Stripper’s Tail (P.S 122, 2010), Justin Vivian Bond’s Re:Galli Blonde (A Sissy Fix) (The Kitchen, 2010) in Viva Ruiz’s Immigrantula (Moma PS1 2011) and most recently in Miguel Gutierrez’s Sadonna, The sad songs of Madonna (Joe’s Pub 2017). Ombro de Oro studied Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He enjoys knitting, crocheting, stressing about environmental deterioration, and immigrant’s rights. He is currently working on his first solo album and very excited about it!

Jess Barbagallo (writer and performer) is a writer and performer and has performed with Big Dance Theater (The Other Here), Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf (Panic, Drum of the Waves of Horikawa, It Cannot Be Called Our Mother But Our Graves) and The Builders Association (Jet Lag). Barbagallo is a founding member of Half Straddle (The Knock-Out Blow, Sliding Whores, Nurses in New England, In the Pony Palace/Football), the Red Terror Squad (Family Bed) and the Dyke Division of 2HC (Room for Cream).  Other credits include Fiabe Italiane (John Turturro), An Oresteia (CSC), MilkMilkLemonade (Josh Conkel/The Management), Little Edgar, Lamb of God (Sibyl Kempson/Eric Dyer), and The Quiet Way (Casey Llewellyn).  Barbagallo has written the plays Grey-Eyed Dogs (Dixon Place Mondo Cane Commission), I’ll Meet You in Tijuana (Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab), Saturn Nights (Incubator Arts Project), and Men’s Creative Writing Group (Playwriting Resident of the Invisible Dog Art).

Marisa Tornello (performance artist, songwriter) is an interdisciplinary performance artist born and raised in NYC. Studying music in college, Marisa's passion in the performing arts is widespread, dabbling in a variety of genres, including early music, musical theater, minimalism, songwriting, bodypainting, durational performance art, and improvisational movement. Musically, Marisa is a member of the New York Choral Society, and has performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Prudential Center, and Palau de la Musica. She has had the opportunity to perform with many artists, including Peter Yarrow, Andrea Bocelli, Renee Fleming, Anna Netrebko, and the Met Orchestra. Marisa is an alumna of the Trinity/La MaMa Program and made her New York debut performing the ensemble piece Searching for Home at La MaMa in 2012. In 2015, Marisa composed, wrote, choreographed, and directed an original musical called Keeping Perfect Time, a piece that shines a spotlight on the relationship between music therapy, dementia, and caregiving. Marisa has been an active model in the NYC bodypainting community since 2015 and had the opportunity to model in an episode of Project Runway in 2014. Her piece blank premiered at the Baumann in June of 2018.

Niko Tsocanos (performer & choreographer) Niko Tsocanos is a performer and choreographer in dance and theater, and co-director of BOOM BAT GESTURE Performance Group, a theater collective based in Brooklyn,NY, whose recent works include ZOOM Thousand Time, LMFAOROFCOL, Screen Eyed Baby Ice, and Blankland! Since 2012 he has worked as a collaborating performer with Third Rail Projects in their award winning and critically acclaimed immersive performances—Then She Fell, The Grand Paradise, and Ghost Light at Lincoln Center Theater. He has also had the pleasure to work with Catherine Galasso, Susan Sgorbati and Elliot Caplan, alex|xan: the Median Movement, Annette Herwander, Bradley Teal Ellis, Lindsey Dietz Marchant, and Becky Radway Dance Projects. He graduated from Bennington College in 2011.

Collaborators: Adam Cuthbért - composer;Chad Raines - composer; Kathryn Lieber - designer; Mark Tambella – visual artist; Rocco D’Santi - designer; Jiyoun Chang; Kamala Sankaram - composer; Michael Burke; Seth Gilman; Ashley Winland; Elise Brancheau; Daniel Allen Nelson; Nehprii Amenii; Brian Walters; Allison Hiroto; John Gasper; Michael Lapinsky; Marina Celander; Ian Cherry.




Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

The Puffin Foundation

Nancy Quinn Fund

The Kinley Fund

Off Broadway Angel Fund

Pioneers Go East Collective is a a resident company at La MaMa since 2010

Pioneers Go East Collectiveis a member company at A.R.T./ New York since 2012.


A.R.T./New York - Theatre Pilot program (2017)

New Victory LabWorks - Professional Development Artists (2015/16)

Process Space/ Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2014)

St Ann’s Warehouse – Puppet Lab (2013/14)

Incubator Arts Project (2013/14)

Chashama (2011)

Goethe Institut (2011)

La MaMa (on going)