Teaching Artists
Sandia Sexton
Aerial Dance
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.
Helen Wicks
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.
Jo Kreiter
Aerial Dance
Jo Kreiter is a San Francisco-based choreographer with a background in political science. She thrives at the intersection of social justice and acrobatic spectacle. Through dance she engages imagination, physical innovation and the political conflicts we live within. She founded her company, Flyaway Productions, in 1996. Flyaway Productions is an apparatus-based dance company that advances social issues in the public realm and explores the range and power of female physicality. Under Kreiter’s artistic direction, Flyaway creates dances on both architectural and fabricated steel objects, which are typically off the ground, with dancers suspended anywhere from two feet to 100 feet above the ground. The company creates a sense of spectacle to make a lasting impression with an audience, striving for the right balance of awe, provocation, and daring. Kreiter’s tools include community collaboration, a masterful use of place, a feminist lens and a body-based push against the constraints of gravity.
Over the past 20 years, she has developed a nationally recognized expertise in creating and presenting site-specific performance work. Since 1996, the company has presented or co-presented numerous large scale works, including the award winning Niagara Falling (2012) and Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane (2014). Kreiter/Flyaway is a recipient of four Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, as well as awards from the Center for Cultural Innovation, New Music USA, the Artist Investigator Project of the California Shakespeare Company, CHIME, the NEA, CA Arts Council, Creative Work Fund, Meet the Composer, MAP, the Wattis, Rainin and Gerbode Foundations, the SF Arts Commission, and the SF Bay Guardian GOLDIE. Her articles have been published in Aerial Dance, Contact Quarterly, In Dance, STREET ART San Francisco, Site Dance — the first book written on contemporary site specific performance. In the 2015 book, “Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performances”, Jo Kreiter’s work is highlighted in the chapter, “Civic Interventions: Accessing Community” using her work as an example of “the politically-driven work of the experienced and prolific site dance artists”. Kreiter is one of a few women worldwide to have gained expertise in the art of Chinese pole acrobatics.
Sonya Smith
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.
Armando Luna
Aerial Yoga
Armando, a former competitive body builder, believes that a fit body is achieved by addressing all aspects of the mind, body and spirit. His dream has been to offer yoga in order to bring a mindful and safe place for people to practice and promote Health and Wellness through yoga. His passion to instruct in the Bayview, at the Bayview Opera House, stems from his work with students ranging from toddler (parent-toddler classes), to after-school kid's classes, to traditional adult classes and Seniors, currently at the Bayview Opera House and other locations around the Bay area. He's happy to join the team of Zaccho as an Aerial Yoga instructor.

Armando has spent the majority of his life in the fitness industry and holds the following certifications:

* 500 Hour Certification in Yoga Teacher Training
* Over 1000 hours of yoga instruction
* ISSA Certification
* CPR Certification
* 25 Years Experience
* Competitive "Natural" Bodybuilder
Marie Walburg Plouviez
Aerial Yoga
Marie is an actress, dancer, performer and yoga teacher who loves to mix styles and techniques but stays grounded in the art and movement of the body. As an actress, she graduated from Nice University with a Masters in Performing Arts and completed a 3 year intensive program with a French National Conservatory.
In France she was the founder and an administrator of the theater company Les Excitants. Upon moving to San Francisco she co-founded Company Carte Blanche where she is the principal performer and co-manager. She has created and delivered dance theater programs for the Lycée Francais, the Preparatory College in Oakland, and Zaccho Dance Theater. She also has her yoga certification from Yoga Tree and teaches aerial yoga at Zaccho. She loves working with children and showing them the joy of creation and body movement and discovery. She has been managing the Center for Dance and Arial Arts (CDAA) since 2015. She enjoys creating fun and challenging programs, workshops, and classes for youth and adults. When Marie is not at zaccho, she is passionate about healthy living, traveling, and spending time in nature with her husband and daughter.
Pamela Ward
Aerial Yoga
Yoga Teacher and Holistic Therapist, Pam has been working in the field of holistic therapy and fitness since 2004 in Ireland. Starting out as a body-sculpting instructor, she then found Hatha yoga to have a deeper level of connection with the body and mind. She has been a certified Yoga teacher since 2005 and has furthered her knowledge in India with Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow disciplines. Aerial yoga has become an exciting way to liberate teachers and students to see the world from new heights, which Pam embraces in her teaching practice. She teaches to all varieties of people and feels yoga can open a door to self-awareness and healing through movement.

Pam has expanded her repertoire of therapeutic knowledge to acupuncture and Shamanism.
Since 2004 Pam has been exploring Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies. Having become skillful in acupuncture and TuiNa massage, she then went to Hang Zhou University China to complete an apprenticeship with some of China’s most renowned TCM doctors. She has shares this knowledge by teaching traditional Chinese medicine to VEC & Active Health students, Ireland.

Shamanism is a spiritual and teaching practice that Pam incorporates into her classes and treatments, having studied with Sli an Chroí School (2007) of Shamanism in Ireland and Peru. Understanding the deep connections within communities has enabled her to work with women’s groups and awaken traditional Irish rites to those seeking empowerment. With these skills Pam can provide, as well as physical treatment, an emotional, spiritual and mental route to self healing.

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.
Helen Dickson
Helen Dickson is an aerialist and dancer performing with UpSwing Aerial Dance in Berkeley. She previously danced with La Petite Chouette Aerial Dance Company in Santa Barbara, where she had the opportunity to learn many aerial genres, including fabrics, rope, trapeze and lyra. She has had the pleasure of performing in California, Arizona, and Colorado, and is thrilled to be teaching at Zaccho Dance Theater. She has a degree in marine biology and works in the environmental field when she is not flying.
Antwan Davis
Body Percussion
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I went to high school and met Khalid Freeman. Later I went to the University of New Mexico where I discovered and indulged in my passion for stepping. I was one of the original members of Rhythm Cartel, a non-Greek step group at UNM started by Jason Nious. From Rhythm Cartel, all three members founded what we know today as Molodi.

At 23 years old, I joined Step Afrika on their national tour, this was my first professional job as a performing artist which was followed by Stomp Out Loud Las Vegas four years later. Into my second year with the company, I went on to perform in Stomp North American Tour. With time, I expanded my artistry becoming an improv actor and stand-up comedian.

"Teaching Highights"
2015-2016 Education and Outreach program The Smith Center Las Vegas, NV
2015 8th International Body Music Festival Bali, Indonesia
2015 2nd Project Rhythm (Molodi Youth Intensive) Rock Center for Dance, Las Vegas, NV
2015 5th Annual Hip Hop Dance Intensive Shawl-Anderson, Berkeley, CA
2015 Nevada Artist Fellowship Grant Recipient
2014 1st Project Rhythm (Molodi Youth Camp) Rock Center for Dance, Las Vegas, NV
2013 6th International Body Music Festival Oakland, CA
2013 19th International Danse Encore Festival Trois-Rivières, Quebec
2013 4th Annual Hip Hop Dance Intensive Shawl-Anderson~Berkeley, CA
2012 3rd Annual Hip Hop Dance Intensive Shawl-Anderson~ Berkeley, CA
2012 38th Wheatland Music Festival ~ Remus, Michigan
2011 4th International Body Music Festival ~ Oakland, CA