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Raising Zuly

A longtime resident of New York, Roxane Butterfly has been traveling the world performing and teaching tap dance for over twenty years. When in 2009 she found herself pregnant on tour in Barcelona, Roxane knew things were bound to change. But when her daughter Zuly was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Roxane's life shifted into an entirely new direction. Barcelona became her home and a new battleground.

Raising Zuly follows Roxane Butterfly as she readjusts her life to fit her new reality.  Roxane has settled in the Raval, a tight-knit community of immigrants and artists in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona where neighbors greet each other and look out for one another.  We will meet neighbors and friends from
the Raval in Barcelona. Marilyn, the hairdresser who now braids Zuly's hair at Roxane's studio since her salon closed due to persistent mold. Milagro who recently gave birth to a baby girl with Down Syndrome and have reached out to Roxane for guidance.  Rafael, the next door tattoo artist.  Paula, the vintage clothing store owner. 

Raising Zuly
is an intimate look at Roxane Butterfly as an artist and as a mother.  Drawing on her training with her mentor the late Jimmy Slyde, Roxane teaches improvisation. She encourages her students to embrace change and find harmony even amidst chaos. Roxane raises her daughter Zuly with those very concepts in mind exposing her to language, music and dance. Five year old Zuly participates in Roxane's tap dance classes. She attends a local mainstream school where she learns Spanish and Catalan. Roxane speaks to her in French and exposes her to English as Zuly often interacts with visiting tap students from around the world.  Zuly attends an after school program at the Down Syndrome Foundation where she gets additional academic support. Right now Zuly's universe consists in her home, her school and her mother's dance studio all within blocks from each other.  Gentrification is coming to the Raval steadily changing the backdrop for this story of a special child and her unconventional mother. 

Raising Zuly will not feature any narration. The only comments or observations will come from the participants. The story will alternate between Roxane’s routine in Barcelona juggling Zuly's school schedule, appointments with medical specialists, weekly tap dance classes and Roxane's life on the road catching a connecting flight to reach her next gig, chatting on skype with Zuly before her bedtime or performing live on stage. We will also meet the parents of other children with Down Syndrome as they gather weekly at a cafe near the Foundation.  Zuly's voice will emerge as she grows from being a child to becoming a teenager.

Over six million people worldwide have Down Syndrome also known as trisomy 21. It is the most commonly occurring genetic condition among all ethnic and economic groups yet it is often misunderstood. My goal with Raising Zuly is to show the challenges but also the joy in raising a child with Down Syndrome.



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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts