Our master art teachers coach and support our young artists by facilitating experiences that help them to develop their cultural competencies, identities of self, arts mastery, and commitment to making the world a better place.
Anisah Abdullah, Bay Area Native and Afro-Indigenous creator, was raised in Oakland, CA. She is currently the only femme-dancer on HEAT, a turf and battle dance team established in Oakland. Anisah also dances with Brazilian Groups To Ai Folkloric Dance Ensemble and Fogo Na Roupa Grupo do Carnavelsco, and is a trained Dance Aerialist, performing and teaching youth throughout the Bay Area. She performed and choreographed on a 5-year run with Topsy Turvy Circus, a Queer Dance Circus Anthology Series, lead and created by Black and Queer Artists.
While growing up in Oakland, she was trained under the late Mestre Carlos Aceituno, in Afro-Brazilian Dance, Culture, and Capoeira, and now uses these lineages to inform her street dance and visual art. She’s worked for the past 8 years as a Childbirth Doula and Advocate and holds a certification as Basu (teacher or keeper of Ancient Egyptian Yoga). Anisah portrays movement, spoken word, and illustration as medicine for the heart, soul, and bones. Her work is inspired by the necessity of respect for the soil that is our Home. She believes that in our dedication to decolonize the movements that carry us and recreate intimacy with the communities we need to survive, we will arm ourselves with the greatest power; Love.
Adriana McDodald is a Bay Area native who grew up in Marin. She comes from a family of incredible dancers and singers whom have been an inspiration to her early on. As a child and teenager she has performed in many school productions as well as chorus. Through the years she’s participated in a variety of different arts ranging from drawing, painting, dance, singing, theater and photography. She has spent nearly two decades working with, bonding and growing children of all ages in the Mill Valley area. Six of those years were spent as a preschool teacher, where she continues to have friendships with her students and parents. She’s known for her enthusiastic, compassionate, and bubbly personality. She loves giving children the opportunity to move freely through dance expression, to dream and tap into their creativity.
Nicole (NiQueen) Jones is an Oakland based multidisciplinary artist and arts educator who intersects the concepts of social justice, youth empowerment, community unification and mindfulness. She has been a working artist since 1997, when began performing as a poet and well respected B-Girl in Los Angeles’s Leimert Park. Her frequent performances in the LA hip hop scene allowed her to participate in fashion shows with Karl Kani and as a dancer open up for iconic artist’s Run DMC and Aerosmith at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. Her music & poetry was featured in several reggae mixed tapes through the 2000’s. NiQueen moved to Oakland in 2007 and planted deep roots with her family. She continued to enjoy writing poetry and reignited her childhood adoration of visual art and built community. She taught Youth and collaborated in Youth Art Shows with Oakland Terminal Art Gallery for years, and began teaching art and mindfulness with Oakland Freedom School. In 2019, NiQueen participated in the creation of a mobile “Living” Black History Museum with Spearitwurx in 2019, completed an Artist Fellowship in Design & Tech with AfroUrban Society in 2020. She created a daytime arts homeschool program for 13 years, and in 2021 became designated an official “Black Culture Keeper” and mentor by the Black Cultural Zone in Oakland, CA. She teaches visual art and Hip Hop History.
Asatu is a seasoned performer, choreographer, founding member, and administrator of Emesè: Messengers of the African Diaspora Cultural Society a collective of artists founded in 1998 with a mission to promote and present the rich cultural traditions of the African Diaspora. Her background in dance incorporates over 25 years of various genres including Ballet, Tap, West African, Congolese, Brazilian, and Cuban. She has had the honor of studying with several master artists in the Bay Area and abroad in particular her mentors Mestre Carlos Aceituno founder of Fogo Na Roupa and Regina Califa Calloway, Jorge Alabe, Blanche Brown, Titos Sompa, Malonga Casquelourd, Zak, and Naomi Diouf, Jose Francisco Barroso, Juan De Dios Ramos, Linda Faye Johnson, Isaura Oliveira, and others. Asatu currently teaches Afro Cuban and Afro Brazilian dance in Oakland at the historical Malonga Casquelourde Center for the Performing Arts and The People’s Conservatory.
Tierra Allen contributes to movements for collective liberation as a theater maker, teaching artist, activist, and more. She’s won an Isadora Duncan "Izzie" Dance Award, earned award nominations from Theatre Bay Area, and performed with the Black Choreographers Festival, Dance Brigade’s D.I.R.T. (Dance in Revolt(ing) Times) Festival, Campo Santo, BAMBDFEST, Magic Theatre, 3Girls Theatre, Bay Area Childrens Theater, and others. She’s directed for Playwrights Foundation and PlayGround and choreographed for the National Queer Arts Festival, Spectrum Queer Media, and TheatreFIRST, where she’s a Company Member. Devised works with her collective The Bonfire Makers include PLACE to LAND (an Oakland love story), which explored cycles of displacement and pathways toward a just Oakland, and a performance-based toolkit to organize for housing justice and Proposition 10. She recently wrote, directed, and performed in the speculative abolitionist short film THE REMEMBERING TIME, commissioned for Shotgun Players’ 30/30 Vision Project. She’s co-created spaces braiding performance, activism, healing, and critical consciousness-raising at theaters, community-based organizations, schools, and parks, behind prison walls and in the streets. She’s an advisor with We Rise Production and holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Theater & Dance with concentrations in Black Studies & English from Amherst College.
Ezra Myles Bristow
Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Ezra Myles Bristow is a quintessential creative. As a self-taught choreographer, published illustrator, and internationally recognized spoken word artist, Ezra has been creating his entire life, deciding at age 10 that he would grow up to be an artist. He completed his first comic book at 14, started his high school’s first dance team at 16, and produced his first event by 18. He studied Art History at Johns Hopkins University and Cartooning at the School of Visual Arts, all before receiving a high school diploma. Ezra is a Choreographer, Illustrator, Poet, Event Producer, and Arts Educator with over a decade of experience performing across the country and internationally. He is currently utilizing his skills as a creative to support local arts organizations in the Bay Area focused on empowering youth and providing community wellness through the arts. He is a Production and Programs Coordinator at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, one of the principal dancers and Co-producers for SambaFunk! Carnaval Explosion, and founder of MylesBeyond Entertainment, a production company that provides event, entertainment, and marketing services.
Chiedu Ufoegbune is an Artist/Graphic Designer from Oakland, California. A first-generation American whose family comes from Nigeria. He graduated from Cal State East Bay with a Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design. He also has done work as a Best Boy Grip & Camera Assistant and has helped make short films and music videos with United Roots Media in Oakland and Black Film Club in San Francisco. He has also been involved with local organizations such as Urban Peace Movement and Oakland Peace Center. His hobbies include drawing and watching movies.
Safahri Ra Hendrix
Safahri Ra Hendrix is a hip hop educator, emcee, after school program director, Katrina survivor, and full time Arts Academy Instructor, who over the past 15 years has built a career by teaching, workshops with teachers, taking over schools, innovating after school programs, aiding principals, creating summer camps, presenting in other states, panels, opening up new schools, performing & touring internationally in schools, coaching young artists, and eventually starting his own Hip Hop company which seemed like the natural next step to take… So now after countless albums, stages, tours, films and presentations, Safahri is launching his life love and dream company Pangea to partner with Arts Academy back at home base in the Bay Area with the support of all his family and friends!
Andrea Lamadora has 19 professional years of Fashion Design, Styling, and Theater/Costume design. Born and raised in San Francisco and Oakland, Ms. Lamadora is a highly visible ambassador of fashion in the culturally diverse Bay Area. Known for crafting dramatic, statement-making pieces using a rich palette of bold, bright colors, every look from her collection has a streak of global influence. She has traveled to 32 countries in which she immersed herself into learning their individual cultures, textile history, lifestyle, and created an individual interpretation of mixed cultures, history into designs of self-expression of urban ethnic growth and lifestyles. Andrea's owned 3 successful clothing Boutiques in San Francisco, including House of Mamasan, which she founded with her eldest sister Kila Lamadora in 2001. In 2017, she went onto teaching and creating the first ever Fashion Design and Costuming High School program in the country and the first middle school Fashion Arts Program in the country with Roses in Concrete Community School. Andrea is Currently teaching Fashion Design and Illustration at Oakland School for the Arts 'Step it Up' program and summer classes at Head-Royce School.
Nicole Gervacio is an interdisciplinary artist based in Oakland, California - occupied Huichin. She received her BFA from California College of the Arts in 2011 and has collaborated with organizations including Her Resilience, People of Coloring, and Urban x Indigenous. In 2016, she became involved in the grassroots freedom school Liberation Spring and co-founded the collaborative cultural production collective We Rise, both continue to deepen and support her work as an artist and activist. Nicole is open to all methods and mediums available to express a concept, from visual work to movement, video to written word. She is inspired by the body, memory, destruction and deterioration, and permanence versus impermanence. As an educator, Nicole sees her position in the classroom as that of a collaborator. She offers guidance, support, as well as space for young artists as they explore mediums for self expression and self discovery.
Innovative arts-educator and youth advocate with over thirteen years of experience using the arts to foster expressions of intelligent, articulate, mindful visionaries.
Rozz Nash is a musician, a vocalist/composer, a choreographer, a theater director, and has been a teaching artist in New York City and the SF Bay Area public and private schools for over 25 years. She served as the Founding Director of Performing and Visual Arts at Roses in Concrete Community School for four years. Previously she was the Artistic Director and creator of the Brooklyn based Caras Youth Contemporary Dance Ensemble--a youth centered social justice and contemporary dance company, the Brooklyn Performing Arts Institute--a year round arts academy for youth ages 13-21, and Co-founder (with Imani Uzuri and Tomasia Kastner) of WERISE--a women’s artist collective that supported entrepreneurship and arts-based business start-ups. She has directed and choreographed musicals and dance performances for Columbia University's Varsity Show, Marymount High School Theatre and Summer drama camp, El Puente Leadership Program, Way Off Broadway Acting School, and The Possibility Project--a national youth development organization. Rozz has facilitated music, theatre and dance residencies for arts organizations such as Creative Music Programs and Learning through an Expanded Arts Program in over 50 schools in NYC for over 20 years. She is also a partner and director of Creative Arts and Music Programs, one of Brooklyn's first multidisciplinary arts camps currently in its 11 year stint. She is an internationally touring artist having performed with various music groups including Groove Collective, Slavic Soul Party, Living Colour, and DJ Towatei as well as her own projects COULON, Red Lotus, and her children's music project The Rozz & Val Show. She is currently working on a new solo project. Rozz is also a co-founder and former Board Chair of Art & Abolition, a Kenyan based organization that gives arts education and life support to young girls that have been sexually abused and exploited due to poverty.
Born on the beautiful island of Oahu, Branch was influenced by the cultures of all the Polynesian islands. Since he could remember, he was involved in some sort of music, visual or movement art form. While in La’ie Elementary, he participated in Polynesian dance competitions where the groups he danced for placed amongst the top. During Kahuku Intermediate, he traveled to the continental US to win gold medals in each category of his division at AAU Karate national competitions. Continuing onto Kahuku High, he lettered in the marching band, judo where he also learned jiujitsu, ran track and played soccer. His class of 1995 won majority of their school songfests and statewide Polynesian dance competitions. Most notably he was amongst a team of high school football champions, all 4 years, winning himself an athletic scholarship to University of Hawaii. During his summers there, he supported himself by performing Polynesian dances at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki. Needless to say, competing or performing at high levels were commonplace for this island boy. His Capoeira journey was sparked by “Only the Strong,” a movie showcasing the Martial Art helping struggling high school students. Fascinated, his Capoeira study commenced in 2003 at San Francisco State’s dance department under Mestre Preguica of Omulu Capoeira. While majoring in Kinesiology, he became hooked before the semester concluded. Working as a personal trainer, he continued private instruction with his college professor. Within 8 months of beginning, a “Batizado” (formal graduation) was held where he received his “cordao,” a cord instead of belts marking the experience level as in other martial arts. In 2018, his love of movement took this experience and knowledge of Capoeira to Roses in Concrete Community School in Oakland, CA. Blessed by the opportunities provided by The People’s Conservatory, he has been fortunate to work with hundreds of youth and share Capoeira’s culture through it’s history, music through it’s instruments, language through it’s songs and his favorite, it’s movements through play. He has now been joyfully playing and sharing Capoeira for 20 years. You can be sure to find him playing in one of the many, many Capoeira academies in the Bay Area if he’s not already playing the game with kids.
Raliegh J. Neal II
Raliegh J. Neal II has 50 YEARS of music exposure, beginning at the age of 4 with his father teaching him the Ukelele. Raliegh attended University of Virginia and University of Miami Music School which then launched a career of over 3 decades of playing the piano and sharing the stage of musical legends like Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Robert Daultry, Nile Rogers, John Mayer, Guru, Be Be Winans and countless others. In 2006 Raliegh joined Michael Franti & Spearhead for a 9 year run touring worldwide in Brazil, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Canada, and throughout the continental U.S. As a Composer, Raliegh has an eclectic catalog of pieces registered with ASCAP that are played around the world. Some of his creative efforts
specialize in “youth empowerment” and have appeared on Nickelodeon and ABC’s Saturday morning children’s programs. Raliegh also has over12 years experience working with inter-city youth in the field of Youth Development through the Arts. Hired as the Music Director for The CityKids Foundation, Raliegh had the opportunity to cultivate the musical and performance talent of hundreds of youth through theme based performances touching on themes about teen pregnancy, racism, culture and relationships. At present Raliegh is scoring for independent films, providing session work, and enjoying performing with local Bay Area music talent, as well as his Steely Dan Cover group, “The Dans of Steel.”
Karma Smart’s passion for dance began in 1996, particularly, dances of the African Diaspora. Soon after beginning the study of West African dance she began to perform at public events. While living in Hawai’i she studied and performed West African, Afro-Brazilian, Congolese, jazz, Haitian and hip-hop dance styles. In Hawai’i she helped form the dance company of Sankofa based on the Big Island with whom she performed at schools, museums, and events on Maui and Oahu and the Big Island while completing a degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2000. In 2002, in order to expand her learning opportunities as a dancer and to attend graduate school, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. A few months after arriving she was invited to join the long standing Congolese dance company, Fua Dia Congo of which she was a member for three years. After graduating from the California Institute of Integral Studies she was presented with the opportunity to teach West African and Congolese dance while in an internship in Brazil. Currently, and for the last ten years she has consistently focused on studying Afro-Brazilian dance. In addition, in April of 2013 she was asked to collaborate in forming a new Congolese dance company by the young visionary choreographer, Vivien Bassoumina. It is Karma’s life passion to share her experience of personal healing and liberation through music and dance. Karma currently teaches adults, teens and children of all ages dance at various community organizations, dance studios, wellness centers, fitness centers and schools. More specifically she teaches at BrasArte, also known as the World Dance Center in Berkeley. And has recently performed as a company member with Omi Tutu Dance Collective as well as Damasceno Dance Collective and, as a guest artist with Maracatu Pacifico for the annual Cuba Caribe Festival in March of 2017. Karma also enjoys performing in the SF Carnaval Parade and other local celebrations annually. In addition, for the last 5 years she has taught as a guest dance teacher at St. Mary’s College High School as well as taught a variety of movement arts from gymnastics, circus arts, and Kung fu, at various schools and camps. Teaching children movement arts is her passion and inspires her daily.
Marina Elana has performed with the most important flamenco companies in the United States over the past twelve years including Caminos Flamencos, Maria Benitez’s Teatro Flamenco in New Mexico and Noche Flamenca in New York City. Marina has performed with Noche Flamenca for the past eight years and has toured extensively with the company both nationally and internationally. In one of the most recent performances, Brian Seibert from The New York Times reviewed her as “a dancer of distinction.” Marina was chosen to perform and present her choreographies at the New York International Fringe Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival, the Queensboro Dance Festival and Stanford University’s NExT Performance Series. Last year in San Francisco, she co-created her first major production, Tattooed, which Rene Renouf reviewed as "one of the most effective flamenco performances I have ever seen." Marina graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Film and Media Studies specializing in “Avant-Garde Aesthetics and Performance.”
Marianna Hester began her dance career in Oakland with the Dimensions Dance Theater’s Rites of Passage program at the age of 16, where she studied hip hop, jazz, Dunham Technique, contemporary, ballet, Guinea, Congolese, and Haitian for over 10 years. During that time she trained and performed with the pre-professional dance company. Dimensions Extensions Performing Ensemble (DEPE). Mari has studied in New York at Alvin Ailey and Broadway Dance Center, and in Los Angeles at the Edge and Millennium performing arts centers, where she expanded on her Dunham, ballet, and contemporary dance training. She has traveled and studied in New Orleans and has been to Camp Fareta for three years where she trained in Susu, Malinke, Wolof and Mande dance as well as performed.
She began dancing with Dimensions Dance Theater’s professional company (DDT) in 2014 during “The Town On Notice.” She has also danced with Kendra Kimbrough Dance Ensemble during “In The Meantime” and also “Sketches.” She also has danced with various dance companies around the Bay Area like Afro- Brazilian group, Barakemi Band.She has participated in San Francisco Carnival with Afro-Brazilian group, Batala San Francisco. She also participated in Los Angeles Carnival with Sister-wit-Style dance company.She has performed at the Black Choreographers Festival multiple years with Dimensions and KKDE as well as with other artists.
Mari currently co-teaches ROP jazz classes and became assistant director for DEPE in 2018. She has presented her own work on DEPE titled “Baby Bird”and was the hip hop instructor for Rites of Passage with Ebonie Barnett for 10 years. She is currently working on her own first outside artist piece titled “Black Womanifesto.” She now teaches jazz/contemporary at West Oakland Middle School and also teaches beginning dance at KSP studios to 4-7 year olds.
Ebonie Barnett is one of Bay Area's most dynamic Afro Diasporic dancers. Born in San Francisco, California and raised by her grandmother in Richmond, California, Ebonie began studying dance at the age of five at the Art of Ballet School of Dance. From eight years old she began training at Dimensions Dance TheaterRites of Passage dance Program (DDT), learning Guinea West African dance, Hip Hop, Tap, jazz, Ballet and Haitian Folkloric under the direction of Latanya Tigner and other well-renowned instructors and choreographers including Alseny Soumah, Colette Eloi, Roquisha Townsend, Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, Phylicia Stroud, Lavinia Mitchell, and Valerie Sanders.
As a true product of the Bay Area, Ebonie also is well-versed in various urban and street styles as they come. Her passion and experience combined with her dance training has her craft expanded and firmly rooted bringing her to performances with Sean Kingston, Culture Shock Oakland, E-40 and Afro Urban Society Gbedu Town Radio. Barnett's dance prowess has been exhibited on the stages of 49ers and Warriors half-time shows and the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival to name a few and also in music videos with artist such as Midtown Social, Barakemi, Stanley Enow and Baaz De La Zik.
Ebonie dance studies have landed her in New York, Washington DC, Arizona, Matanzas Cuba, and Senegal Africa. Ebonies Dance travels and studies assisted her in her most recent accomplishment of becoming San Francisco’s 2019 Carnaval Queen.
Ebonie has taught at many community spaces and schools throughout the bay area including West Oakland Middle School and Oakland Tech. Her focus point is making connections to Hip Hop movement and its roots throughout the African Diaspora and using that as a tool to help youth unpack trauma within the body and heal themselves using the healing properties of movement rooted in the pelvic and spinal region. She has also curated a successful event, “Back to the roots” that took a look at the historic connection of the spine and pelvis throughout the African Diaspora. With her work she hopes to channel her experiences to empower Black and Brown youth to embody leadership and autonomy of a culture that is rightfully theirs.
Danika Butler started her journey in theatre as a child, and later moved to Los Angeles to study and pursue a career in the arts. While working as a dancer at Disneyland, she continued to perform in theatre, earning an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for her role in “The Bluest Eye”. Danika went on to study Meisner technique at The Baron Brown Studio in Santa Monica, CA. She graduated from the two-year program and completed a year of teacher training. She is currently auditioning for theatre, film and television projects, alongside teaching with San Francisco Youth Theatre.
Jamel ‘Leair’ Jackson
Jamel is an international performing R&B/Soul singer-songwriter, producer, and musician. Jamel has called many places home throughout the Bay Area and beyond including cities such as Hayward, Oakland, East Palo Alto, and Stockton. He also has his B.A in Communications with an advertising option from Cal State East Bay. He has performed in many cities across the country and also performed in the Dominican Republic. He has opened up for many artists with his most notable performances opening for Brandy and Faith Evans at the San Jose Juneteenth Festival. Recently relocating back to the Bay Area from his musical journey in Brooklyn, NY, Jamel wants to use his musical knowledge to teach the youth to spark their inner genius and transform their lives through music. He has years of teaching music under his belt via freelance work and has also served the community working with and alongside organizations over the years such as R2W(Represent 2 Witness), UBSUC (United Black Student Union Of California) BACR(Bay Area Community Resources) BOP(Black Organizing Project), and many others.
"Multi-disciplinary artist living in California with more than 10 years working experience in photographic and visual art mediums across a variety of industries (commercial art, e-comm, editorial, illustration). Projects I've worked on have been featured in publications such as The NYT, LAT, Interview! Magazine, Purple magazine, Voyage LA and The Thrillist.
Today, I live and work in Oakland, CA. When I'm not leading bay area students in media art classes, I maintain a robust art practice at home. Photography, drawing, painting, and digital art mediums are all created in a fluidly shifting fashion.
I'm a zealous humanist, outdoors enthusiast, driven by the desire to know stories and landscapes."
Anders is a multimedia artist from the San Francisco bay area specializing in music production and composition. Anders has always had a passion for storytelling since he was a young boy listening to his grandfather's stories of the sea. Armed with a small digital camera Anders would spend hours shooting and editing short movies in his bedroom, using his bionicle action figures as actors. Joining the VOENA choir at the age of 7 and beginning guitar lessons three years later at the age of 10, Anders's music career started from a young age. By high school he had his own band and even taught guitar lessons at the same studio where he was taught. At the age of 15 he took an interest in audio production, producing his own music and his own audio narrative podcast. By the age of 17 Anders began work at YR Media as a creative pursuing video, graphic design and music production. After high school Anders enrolled at SAE Expression pursuing audio production and engineering. During the coronavirus pandemic, Anders worked closely with YR Media to build out an online platform that would allow young producers to learn and collaborate remotely. Anders recently graduated with a bachelors in audio production and engineering.