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The Mirror

by Nicole L. Olson and Vinodh Narayanan


The Mirror is commentary about the journey of humans and their families challenged with Rett syndrome.  It is the story of a young woman seeing herself and who she is inside and her ever-changing reflection.

About the process

by Vinodh Narayanan

It was destiny.  Nicole and I met at the Meet and Greet event in November 2022, even before the speed dating session started. Perhaps it was her interest in storytelling through dance, my interest in classical Indian music and dance, and the very human side of our mission at the C4RCD (Center for Rare Childhood Disorders at TGen) that brought us together.

After meeting with the dedicated team at the C4RCD and our research lab at TGen, she learned about the diagnostic odyssey that many children and their families go through, in particular the girls with Rett syndrome. Girls with Rett syndrome appear normal as infants, and then slowly lose their ability to walk, use their hands, and speak. Over time, they become completely dependent on their parents and family for all their care. In spite of these physical limitations, they may be able to communicate using their eyes. The challenge is to free them from these restrictions and allow them to achieve their potential.

The Mirror, created and developed by Nicole, tries to depict the journey of girls with Rett syndrome through dance.

Meet the Team

Artist: Nichole L. Olson

Nicole Olson has performed in Arizona with the Phoenix Opera, Liliana Gomez, Diane Hunt, Dulce Dance, Center Dance Ensemble and Scorpius Dance Theatre. Currently, she is the Artistic Director of NicoleOlson | MovementChaos. Olson*s work has been presented nationally in such venues as the Kennedy Center (DC), Ruth Page Performing Arts (Chicago), and the TBA Festival (Portland). Her choreography has been witnessed in The Phoenix Theatre Company*s ※Evita§ and ※Once§, and Stray Cat Theatre*s ※Heathers§ and ※Silence! The Musical§. Nicole loves to create work for alternative performance spaces, such as Phoenix Art Museum, SMOCA, and for the internationally award-winning Canal Convergence in 2018-*22, presented by Scottsdale Public Art. Olson was awarded the Phoenix Mayor*s Arts Award and was selected as Phoenix New Times* ※Best Dancer§ for their annual ※Best Of Phoenix§ in 2016. She was recognized by Phoenix New Times* ※Best Of 2018§ for her work with artist Patricia Sannit (Best Collaboration).

Researcher: Barret Michalec

Dr. Vinodh Narayanan is Medical Director for TGen*s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders. In 2003, Dr. Narayanan moved to Phoenix as a member of the Child Neurology division at Barrow Neurological Institute. He obtained his BS in Physics in 1972 from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He completed graduate studies in mathematical physics at Princeton University, where he received his MA in Physics in 1976. He received his MD from Louisiana State University Medical School, New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1981, and completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospitals.

In 2005, he began a clinical research partnership with TGen by establishing the CHC-BNI-TGen Pediatric Neurogenetics Center at the Children*s Health Center, St. Joseph*s Hospital and Medical Center. In 2012 he became the Medical Director for TGen*s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, and uses next generation sequencing to help diagnose children with neurological disorders of unknown genetic etiology. His research interests include the neurobiology of genetic disorders. His current projects deal with Rett syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), and other pediatric neurogenetic disorders.

Closer Look:

Medium: Dance

Cost of Piece: $5,000