Teaching Artists
Helen Wicks
Acrobatics
Helen Wicks is a dance artist and teacher based in the Bay Area. She’s been training in gymnastics, acrobatics, modern dance, and ballet since early childhood. As a dancer, she’s worked with Cielo Vertical Arts, Abby Crain, Leah Cox, and Paul Matteson. Helen currently performs with Zaccho Dance Theatre and El Circo Dia. She received a BA in Dance and Psychology from Bard College, where she had the opportunity to perform works by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and Merce Cunningham. Her own choreographic work has been presented at OMNI Commons, Eighth Street Studios, SAFEhouse Arts, and ODC. She teaches creative movement, acrobatics and circus arts in the Young Creative Program at ODC, Zaccho Center for Dance & Aerial Arts, and East Bay Center for Performing Arts.
Joanna Haigood
Aerial Dance
Since 1979 Joanna Haigood has been creating work that uses natural, architectural and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Her stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts, and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by many arts institutions, including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Walker Arts Center, the Exploratorium Museum, the National Black Arts Festival, and Festival d'Avignon. She has also been honored with the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cal/Alpert Award in Dance, the US Artist Fellowship, and a New York Bessie Award. Most recently, Haigood was a recipient of the esteemed Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Joanna has had the privilege to mentor many extraordinary young artists internationally at the National École des Arts du Cirque in France, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in England, Spelman College, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, the San Francisco Circus Center and at Zaccho Studio.
Sonya Smith
Tissu
Sonya Smith is the first to complete the Aerial Track of the MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado Boulder. A scientific artist, Smith has accumulated somatic information from Alexander Technique, Kinesiology, and athletic training as well as a certificate in Pilates and a Gyrokinesis Apprenticeship. Smith’s curiosity about the body and effective training methods for aerial and ground-based dancing is insatiable. Performing in San Francisco and producing work in multiple cities, she combines a passion for highly physical dancing and a quirky theatricality both on the ground and in the air, weaving together Contact Improvisation, bungee and harnesses, lyra, and a variety of invented aerial apparatus. Smith spent a decade studying and dancing in with Joanna Haigood/Zaccho Dance Theatre, Project Bandaloop, Jo Kreiter/Flyaway Productions, Sara Shelton Mann, Eat Cake Productions, and Terry Sendgraff before returning to academia where she has continued to earn residencies and produce work around the country.
Azraa Muhammad
Aerial Dance
Azraa Muhammad is an emerging aerial artist, dancer and performer. She received her training from artistic director of Zaccho Dance Theatre, Joanna Haigood, and began flying with the Zaccho Youth Company at the age of 7. After 10 years of training she began apprenticing as a member of Zaccho Dance Theatre. A native of San Francisco, Azraa believes in drawing inspiration from current social and political issues, such as racial profiling, poverty, identity, and ancestry as a way of expression in her choreography. As a member of the Zaccho Youth Company, she has collaborated with and performed for Flyaway Productions, Baycat, Dance Vision Series Festival, California Youth Circus Center Festival, Circus for Arts in the Schools and much more. Her most recent projects include performing for the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) 2016 New Strands Festival and being featured in a promotional video for the Golden State Warriors honoring Black History Month. Apart from creating and performing, Azraa also enjoys teaching at Zaccho for the Youth Program of Center for Dance and Aerial Arts with a class of Aerial Dance technique for beginners.
Danielle Sandia Sexton
Teaching Artist
Danielle Sandia Sexton is a San Francisco based aerial artist and instructor. An alumnus of the Circus Center’s Professional Aerial Program, Sandia uses her conservatory training as a foundation for exploring acrobatic and aerial techniques in immersive theater and traditional vaudeville performance, and as a platform for social commentary. Sandia choreographs solo performance as well as collaborates with Bay Area innovators of aerial dance, walking the line between stuntwoman, fine artist, and circus performer. She has performed for Zaccho Dance Theatre, Vau De Vire Society, Flyaway Productions, Treat Social Club, Cielo Vertical Arts, Capacitor Dance, Extra Action Marching Band as well as in festivals and supper clubs locally and internationally.
Lydia Clinton
Teaching Artist
Lydia Clinton, a Bay Area native, went to Point Park University receiving a BA in Dance (Modern). During college, she attended the American Dance Festival on scholarship and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance’s summer program. Since returning home, she has worked with AXIS Dance Company, Garrett+Moulton Productions, Cali & Co, Capacitor, PUSH Dance Company, and Zaccho Dance Theatre.