Since 1979 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 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.
Erik K. Raymond Lee
YPAP Associate Director
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Erik K. Raymond Lee began his dance journey UC Berkeley where he trained and earned a BA in Dance & Performance Studies and Art Practice with a concentration in painting . Erik since has Joined Dimensions Dance Theater under the direction of Deborah Vaughn, as a company member and choreographer; debuted choreographic work as a participant in the Artist in Mentorship Program (AMP) with Black Choreographer’s Festival (BCF) directors Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes (2015) earned his MFA in Dance from Mills College. Erik also volunteers in dance ministry with the Worship in Arts Ministry (WAM) at Covenant Church for now 10 years functioning as Artistic Director/choreographer since 2014. His work whether within the realm of dance theater or faith-based events aims to inspire, give hope and uplift the community.
Goldie and Izzie Award winner Shakiri has been a performer and choreographer in the San Francisco Bay Area for over thirty years. Her improvisational style developed by performing to live music and by working with the great Ed Mock helped her to become one of the Bay Area’s most exciting and energetic performers. 4’7 Shakiri learned her stature would not allow her to go the traditional route. As a result Shakiri, who has studied African Haitian, various styles of African, modern, and jazz has performed in all genres, and used her experience to develop work of her own. Shakiri has written, directed, and choreographed several dance and theater pieces including, With My Face On Their Face, Breathe, Barnstormin’, and And Their Children’s Children. Her work has a reputation for confronting difficult issues and has been listed twice on the “Best Ten” of the year by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Shakiri is a member of the internationally acclaimed Zaccho Dance Theater Company touring around the country and abroad since 1988. Shakiri has choreographed for Berkeley Repertory Theatre, danced and toured with Dance Brigade, Ellen Sebastian, Hassan Al Falak, and with her own company Shakiri/Rootworkers. She was a principle performer in famed Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie, and enjoyed dancing the part of Nutcracker for several years.
Shakiri is proud to be an arts educator and has taught kindergarten age children to adults at recreation centers schools, Colleges and Universities. She’s also a visual artist and has shown in local galleries, as a part of Art in Public Places, and taught at the Crocker Art Gallery this past summer. As a writer she has short stories published in Zica anthologies, and her latest novel 14 Years Later can be purchased from Amazon. She continues to work on her one woman show Lottie’s Ghosts premiered at Brava For Women in the Arts in San Francisco, and a piece dear to her heart titled Crazy Black Women addressing grief over murdered children. Shakiri is presently collaborating with Bay Area dance company NAKA on a project titled RACE, and an audio book in collaboration with singer composer Melanie Demore.
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.
Jo Kreiter is a nationally recognized choreographer and site artist with a background in political science. She engages physical innovation and the political conflicts we live within. Kreiter’s tools include community collaboration, a masterful use of place, an intersectional feminist lens and a body-based push against the constraints of gravity. She makes large scale public art via apparatus-based dance. Her work democratizes public space. Jo has spent 25 years building coalitions with women marginalized by race, class, gender and workplace inequities. Noted partners include Essie Justice Group, UC Hastings Center for Work-life Law, Tenderloin Museum, Code Tenderloin, Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center, and Tradeswomen, Inc. Her work has been supported by Guggenheim and Rauschenberg Fellowships, New England Foundation for the Arts, the and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Creative Work Fund, Wattis and Rainin Foundations, the CA Arts Council, SF Arts Commission, and by seven IZZY awards. She is currently creating The Decarceration Trilogy: Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex One Dance at a Time.
Antwan is a multi-percussionist that has Co founded the Las Vegas based performance arts company Molodi, performed with the Las Vegas and North American production of Stomp, and tour nationally with Step Afrika. He is actively performing and teaching workshops and residencies in the U.S and internationally.
“My passion is people, I love connecting, inspiring, sharing and creating with people.” -Antwan Davis
He has been engaging audiences for 14 years with body percussion and stepping. As a performer, he thrives on breaking down musical and genre barriers through creative, interdisciplinary projects. As a teacher he is enthused by creating community through body music, giving people a different outlet of expression. As an artist, Antwan has expanded his artistic crafts by becoming an improv actor and stand-up comedian. He strives to grow to become a better teacher, performer and person.
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.
Meche is a native San Franciscan, singer-songwriter, music educator, aerialist, and aerial instructor. She feels fortunate to have been trained in aerial dance since she was 12 years old with Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Joanna Haigood and is an alumna member of the Zaccho Youth Company. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2018, Meche has also been a teaching assistant with Zaccho’s youth education programs. Meche has a multidisciplinary approach to her artistic work. As a performer, Meche has collaborated with and performed for Flyaway Productions, Youth Circus Center Festival, and BAYCAT. She is also co-founder of The Humxn Collective, a creative consulting company for queer and BIPOC musicians. Over the years, Meche has contributed her songwriting, singing, and acting talents to Zaccho performances. She especially loves working with Zaccho because of the social justice aspects of their work. Through dance, choreography, and music, Meche hopes to inspire youth to learn more about themselves and their communities.
As a life-long dancer, Suzanne Gallo has performed with the San Francisco Opera, the Atlanta Ballet, Ballet West, Ballet Met, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, ODC, Dance Brigade, Sonya
Delwaide, the Native American Foundation for the Arts, Cielo, and Zaccho. She is a founding member of vertical dance company BANDALOOP where she has danced for more than twenty years. In 2021 Suzanne toured with Bandaloop to Atlanta as a practicing artist and teaching facilitator, offering workshops to the Moving In The Spirit dance school and working with young
professional dancers at Atlanta’s Immerse ATL. During the pandemic, Suzanne was invited as a co-collaborator to dance on a film project by Patricia Reedy, Director of Luna Dance Institute. In January 2022, Suzanne toured with BANDALOOP to Indianapolis, opening for Doja Cat at the College Football Playoff National Championship.
At BANDALOOP, Suzanne is the Youth Program Director, teaching BANDALOOP’s vertical methodology to adults, teens, and children at the company’s West Oakland studio. She teaches
workshops on tour nationally and internationally serving a diverse constituency of students. She built the curriculum for BANDALOOP’s vertical creatives kids’ intensive, and coordinates teachers and curriculum for the company’s school. Suzanne has a wide range of teaching experience at public and private Bay Area schools and as faculty with Zaccho Dance Theatre. For the last 16 years, she has led BANDALOOP’s rich annual collaboration with Destiny Arts Center, teaching vertical curriculum to Destiny Senior and their production of Black Whole 2020 and, in 2021, collaborating on their production of Low Tide Rising.
San Francisco native, Inez Schynell is a choreographer, social justice facilitator, dance educator, and beauty-prenuer working at the intersection of justice, identity, and dance.
Inez is currently a dance educator and choreographer with Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Youth Performing Arts Program (YPAP). Inez began training and competing in gymnastics at 7 years old. She furthered her studies in Dance performance with D-Fuse West African and Nigerian Folklore dance company, GRRRL Brigade dance company with emphasis on Ballet, Modern Jazz, Belly Dance, and Hip Hop along with studios from the Bay Area to New York. As a Notre Dame De Namur University dance scholarship recipient, Inez deepened her studies in Dance. Inez uses dance to reclaim identity and justice.
In 2020, Inez was a host and member of the comedy ensemble for Bakanal de Afrique, a Global international arts and culture festival that highlights Dance, Art, Film, and Culture across 10 different countries.
Inez is a facilitator for restorative and environmental justice working to advance equity in California and beyond. She currently leads weekly sessions at FLY (Fresh Lifelines for Youth) for young people impacted by the juvenile justice system, encouraging them to unlock their potential, disrupt the school to prison pipeline, while learning the current laws that impact them and their rights to advocate for themselves.
In 2018 Inez founded Ctrl Galore; a platform for young women to cultivate, create, and explore ways to take control of their beauty narrative. As a signed model with Rae Agency, she has taken the message to the commercial and global markets.