Since 1980 Joanna 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 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the United States Artist Fellowship, and a New York Bessie Award. Haigood is also a recipient of the esteemed Doris Duke 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.
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
Danielle Sandia Sexton is a San Francisco based aerialist and youth instructor of static and single point trapeze, lyra, aerial conditioning and general acrobatics. Sandia enjoys teaching the vast possibilities that aerial composition, acrobatics and performance lend to developmental strength and self-confidence. Recognizing the lasting benefits of supported self-expression, Sandia’s classes incorporate individual strengths and talents, allowing students to incorporate specialized skills into their own style of movement, at their own level of ability. Each student is given personal attention and individualized training within a dynamic, fun and effective group setting.
Sandia is a nationally certified coach and performer, choreographing solo performance as well as collaborating 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 as well as in festivals and supper clubs locally and internationally.
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.
Ciarra D’Onofrio is a dancer and aerialist with a passion for art, social justice, and creating community through movement arts. She was born and raised here in the Bay Area where she began exploring dance and aerial arts at age 5. Since then, she has trained in movement arts ranging from circus arts to contemporary and jazz dance. She studied dance and choreography at Lewis & Clark College where she received the 2015 Distinction in Dance Choreography award, an award given to one graduating choreographer each year. As a member of the Circus Project’s Training and Performance Company (Portland, OR), she specialized in trapeze and aerial silks. Her performance background includes work with the Circus Project, Aerial Arts Fairfax, Aerial Dance Marin, Evening Star Presents, Camp Winnarainbow, and Lewis & Clark College. Ciarra has completed 3 aerial teacher training programs with Carrie Heller of the Circus Arts Institute and Camp Winnarainbow. She has taught aerial arts to youth and adults for over 7 years and loves seeing the growth, confidence, and joy her classes bring to her students.
Heidi began studying aerial at the Pickle Family Circus School in San Francisco in the late 1980s. A few years later she ran away to France, where she studied at the Fratellini National Circus school in Paris and the National Circus School of Rosny-sous-Bois, France. Heidi studied swinging trapeze for 3 years under the tutelage of Zoe Maistre. Her professional career took off in 1996 with Transe Express, where she performed static trapeze on a human mobile from a crane 90 feet in the air. In 1999 she performed with them for The King of Sweden in front of the Stockholm Opera House. She toured 4 years with the French Street Theater company Jo Bithume, playing shows all over Western and Eastern Europe, and even down into South America. She has performed static trapeze, aerial silk, rope, hoop, aerial diamond, hung from a harness at 30ft, and embodied a myraid of ground characters throughout. She once played a Death Wraith writhing up her rope and into infinity. In 2001 and 2002, Heidi toured on Caravan Stage Barge’s floating theater boat in the Eastern US, playing numerous aerial characters and grappling aloft in the rigging of the barge’s 90-foot masts. Heidi has played with bands and was once Santa’s Helper. She played a Harpie intent on stealing a man’s soul, a slut intent on stealing his body, and even an errant schoolboy. Many of these characters were in the air, though many were ground characters that interacted with the audience. Since 2000, Heidi has been steadily teaching in the US at Trapeze School NY, Streb Lab for Action Machanics and the Skybox (both in Brooklyn), and at various summer programs around the Northeast. The last few years have seen her create an original aerial apparatus, and help her students create their own artistic routines.