jose esteban abad (they/them) is a multidisciplinary choreographer, DJ, and curator based in unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Territory (San Francisco, CA). Born in Olongapo City, Philippines to a Filipina Mother and an Afro-Carribean U.S. Naval Officer, their work explores the complexities of cultural identity at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, class, and race in the United States. Through dance theater, surrealist video, and sonic experimentation, their work unearths lost histories that reside in the body, that the mind has forgotten, and dominant culture has erased.
Their choreography is rooted in collaboration and improvisation as tools of resistance and liberation. Their work centers QTBIPOC experimental collective process-based practices of becoming and re-membering, ushering a metamorphosis through emergent performances that listen to the most intelligent technologies that exist in this world - our bodies, ancestral wisdom, and nature.
They are a cofounder and core member of several QTBIPOC centered dance and performance projects that promote healing, community networking, and leadership capacity building including Lxs Dxs, the Hive, to be like the river residency, and SCHEME. They have also held residencies and produced work with organizations including CounterPulse, the Joe Goode Annex, Paul Dresher Studio, Highways Performance Space and Hope Mohr Dance.
abad has performed and taught nationally and internationally in the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, and Europe, and has collaborated with established choreographers, including Anne Bluethenthal, Alleluia Panis, Joanna Haigood, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Keith Hennessey, Sara Shelton Mann, Brontez Purnell, BANDALOOP, Erika Chong Shuch, Sherwood Chen, and many others. Through this legacy abad is committed to continuing the Bay Area’s tradition of radically queer, experimental, politically engaged dance.
Black Futures Artist
San Francisco native with the incarnations of Mississippi, Tossie (she/her) is named after her father, fathers father, fathers father father, making her the first woman in her lineage with the name. She is a mother, multidisciplinary performing artist, sound sculptress, facilitator, producer and director that speaks to the intersections of culture, personal identity and sociopolitical issues. Nicknamed "Bone Rattler '' Tossie uses art, culture, and explorations in intimacy as her tools to rattle actuality. A practitioner of ceremonial music from around the world with a focus on diasporic cosmology, Tossie has voyaged to Haiti, Cuba and Benin tracing the migration of Vodou studying the culture through music. Tossie is currently excavating the inner workings of her mind via her multi-part project ‘Red Clay: A Romance Primer: The Preservation of Landmarks: Body, Architecture and Desire’ interpreted through sound, film, stage and movement. The last Black woman of San Francisco; Tossie is a connoisseur of Brussel Sprouts, loves heavy weightlifting and dirty chais all wrapped up by nature walks with her French bulldog Charlie. Tossie does not perform for the sake of performing, but to push her perceived limits.
Martin Luther McCoy
Black Futures Artist
Martin Luther (he/him) refuses to confine himself to any one creative pursuit. An ambassador for hip hop soul and current SFJazz Collective member, he continues to serve as a conduit for black funk and rock music. On the cusp of releasing his fourth full length studio album, a self-titled LP of original material, Luther, having always been a fan of the musical styles of Marvin Gaye, has dedicated a suite of songs for the commemoration of the release of Marvin’s most popular album, ‘What’s Going On’. Luther invites listeners to 'enjoy this funky ride.’ Feb 1, 2022 where he will perform at Yoshi's Oakland. It's a trip worth taking, fueled by old school, power-to-the-peeps politics and more soul than a Sunday revival meeting.
—San Francisco Chronicle
In some circles Martin Luther is best known for his work with the seminal hip hop collective The Roots. Many others discovered him through his incendiary performance starring in Julie Taymor’s 2007 film Across the Universe. He was cast in the role of Musician, a griot sage, in Yale Repertory Theatre/ American Conservatory Theatre’s production of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3). If there’s one thread connecting all of Martin Luther’s endeavors it’s his grounding in the verdant soil of African-American culture, a soul-steeped presence that leaps off of stages, screens, and bandstands.
As a producer, performer and voice talent, McCoy has been featured in commercials, films and on soundtracks like Across The Universe, Chasing Liberty, Dave Chapelle”s Block Party and most recently as part of the soundtrack to The Oracle by visual artist Sanford Biggers.
Before and throughout the pandemic Martin Luther has continued to record and release music like the sizzling rnb “Now” on his own Rebel Soul Records imprint as well as a number of dance floor thumpers like “Back Tonight” produced by longtime collaborator Miguel Migs. He joined the SFJazz Collective for the 2019/2020 season and being the first vocalist after a 14 year run as an instrumental ensemble, his voice was a great fit for the collective as they tackled the music of Sly and the Family Stone. Martin has agreed to perform and record for the current season and will be touring the new release (Mar 22) throughout the spring and summer. “As artists, our work is often the only weapon we have to help heal old wounds or encourage and inspire the discovery of new joys. I like what we are doing to the music. We pay homage but we definitely make it our own.” Some of the bay area's best musicians will be joining Luther so don’t hesitate to get your tickets when he performs in your area.
Black Futures Artist
amara tabor-smith (she/her) was born in SF, and is based in Oakland, CA. She is a choreographer/performance maker and the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater. She describes her dance and performance making practice as Conjure Art. Her interdisciplinary site-specific and community responsive performance experiences utilize Yoruba Lukumí spiritual technologies to address issues of social and environmental justice, race, gender identity, and belonging. Her work is rooted in Black, queer, Afro futurist/surrealist, and feminist principles, that insist on liberation, joy, home fullness and well-being. In addition to her own work Amara has also performed in the works of artists such as Ed Mock, Joanna Haigood, Ana Deveare Smith, Ronald K. Brown, Julie Tolentino, Adia Tamar Whitaker, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Faustin Linyekula. She is the former associate artistic director and company member with Urban Bush Women, and was the co artistic director of Headmistress, a performance collaboration with Sherwood Chen. She is a 2021 inaugural recipient of the Rainin Fellowship for Artists; a 2020 recipient of the Hewlett 50 grant with East Side Arts Alliance; a 2019 Dance/USA Fellow; a 2018 United States Artist Fellow and a 2018 recipient of KQED’s “Bay Brilliant” award. Her current project, House/Full of Blackwomen in collaboration with director Ellen Sebastian Chang is a site-specific ritual performance project addressing the displacement, well-being and sex trafficking of Black women and girls in Oakland. Rooted in her Oakland community, Amara is a member of the Black Cultural Zone (BCZ) Arts and Culture working group in East Oakland; she is a co-founder of the Oakland Anti-Racist Organizing Committee (OAROC) a collaboration of BIPOC artists, activists and educators that holds space for individuals and organizations to address internalized structural racism, and she is the co-founder of Conjure and Mend, a creative sanctuary for survivors of Sex Trafficking in Oakland in partnership with sex trafficking abolitionist Regina Evans. Amara received her MFA in Dance from Hollins University and is an artist in residence at Stanford University.
Zaccho Past Artists in Residency
Our most featured AIR of 2014 is Artistic Director Gregory Dawson and his company dawson dance sf! They have re-established an enormous presence in San Francisco with the presentation of their highly successful World Premier fabricca matterasso d'argento. A high-energy and hard-hitting ballet, fabricca is set to the music of Alton San Giovanni and inspired by Langston Hughes' poem Dreams. As said by Ray Mark Rinaldi of the Denver Post, "The piece is an intimate, sensual and surreal marathon that pushes the dancers to the limits".
In his second production as AIR, Gregory Dawson embarked on the exciting and challenging territory of aerial dance with his Intrinsic Motion Project, staging his own highly ambitious, high-impact style of choreography off of the ground. Informed and inspired by his previous work as a dancer with Zaccho Dance Theatre, Gregory turned to Artistic Director Joanna Haigood for consulting on aerial techniques and safe practices. Zaccho's House Rigger, Sean Riley of Gravity Design, was also on board to rig the dancers' apparatus, allowing them to safely explore the realm of dancing in the rafters and zip across the floor with ropes.
Gregory Dawson retired from Lines Ballet in 2005 and began to teach and choreograph for Alonzo King's LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University California and for LINES Ballet Training Program. Students from the LINES BFA Program were selected to represent the Southwest Region and perform his Solid Soil Beneath Our Feet at the National College Dance Festival in New York. Mr Dawson has also been on faculty for the San Francisco High School for the Arts for the last eight years.
In 2007 he formed dawsondancesf. In 2008 he choreographed Which Light in the Sky is Us for Company C which was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for Choreography. In 2009, he became Assistant Director of the CCCSA Dance Dept. In the spring of 2010, Mr. Dawson reset Venus for the 2010 season of David Taylor Dance (DTD), and in spring 2011 created a new ballet for DTD, Big Sky Endless Mountains.
In the fall of 2011, Mr Dawson became Director of Dawson Wallace Dance Project in Denver, Colorado (formally David Taylor Dance). In 2011 Dawson was selected to receive a CHIME Grant to be mentored by Elizabeth Streb for one year, ending in December of 2012. In 2013, the Denver Post named Dawson the Best Choreographer in Denver. In September of 2013, dawsondancesf re-established it's presence in San Francisco with the World Premier of fabricca matterasso d'argento at Zaccho Studio, the company's new home.
Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, a contemporary ballet company in San Francisco, believes that ballet is an expressive and vital voice relevant to our times. Imagery’s artists share the belief that through collaboration & experimentation, vibrant and courageous ideas are expressed and habitual reactions are discouraged. Imagery’s mission is to expand the definition of ballet by exploding preconceptions of what ballet is and can be.
Feline Finesse Dance Company, est 2014, is a youth sisterhood stemming from the origins of the Bayview-Hunters Point community, San Francisco. Our mission is to create a safe haven for all young ladies to freely, creatively, and artistically express themselves through dance while empowering them to reach their full potential, goals and dreams. We self-identify thru genres of Hip-hop and West African; but most importantly, we philosophize a sisterhood of love and self-respect. We not only teach choreography, but we educate our young ladies in dance fundamentals, technique and overall etiquette.
Our company currently holds young ladies of all shapes and sizes; ages ranging from 5y to 17y. Feline Finesse is a company of unity and integrity. We welcome young ladies from all walks of life, while enforcing a STRONG ANTI-BULLYING POLICY and encouraging a strict KNOWLEDGE IS POWER pledge.
Perform off-the-ground dances that expose the range and power of female physicality. We experiment with height, speed and gravity, dancing on steel objects that are both architectural and fabricated. We dance at the intersection of social justice and acrobatic spectacle. We dance anywhere from two to one hundred feet off the ground. We offer performance as a medium for social commentary and choose projects that advance female empowerment in the public realm. At its core, our work explores the female body– its tumultuous expressions of strength and fragility.
Teach a signature style of apparatus-based dance. We offer year round classes to adults, teens and youth; we offer GIRFLY, an Art & Activism Program, integrating dance-making and activism. Our training with youth offers some remedy for the ways women and girls remain underserved in public culture as a whole. We also offer KIDFLY school residencies that link social justice content, school curriculum and movement innovation, where your young artists are our collaborators.
Advocate and provide the bridge between women in the arts and civic life. We are constantly developing new forms for community engagement and coalition building with activists and non arts partners.
Raissa Simpson is an African American/Pilipino choreographer and artistic director of the San Francisco-based PUSH Dance Company. Her multidisciplinary dances are at the intersection of complex racial and cultural identities and centers around discourse on the complex experiences of racialized bodies. A graduate of SUNY Purchase, Simpson had an extensive performance career with Robert Moses Kin and Joanna Haigood’s Zaccho Dance Theatre. Her choreography honors include Magrit Mondavi Award, San Francisco Arts Commission, Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and Grants for the Arts. Her choreography has been presented by Joyce SoHo, Aspen Fringe Festival, Dance St. Louis, Ferst Center, Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival and Black Choreographers Festival. She has held creative residencies at Dance Initiative Carbondale, Santa Clara University, Bayview Opera House, Sacramento State University, Margaret Jenkins’ CHIME, African American Theater Alliance (AATAIN!) and CounterPulse. She received a Phyllis C Wattis Foundation with Bayview Opera House for her most recent work, The Motley Experiment.
Village Voice dance critic Deborah Jowitt notes, “Simpson dances big.”
Navarrete x Kajiyama create interdisciplinary performance work using movement, theater, art installation, multimedia and site-specific environments. Their work has been influenced by ritual, cultural studies and the political and environmental concerns of the world in which we live. In the last eight years, the themes of their work have shifted to address their deepening concern with social and environmental issues. Recent themes include: genetic modification of native crops, the commodification of water, cultural colonization and the human response to overwhelming disaster.
Since 2001, NAKA has created work involving members of the Latino transgender community, the local Mexican-American and Japanese-American communities and San Francisco's community of Argentine Tango dancers. From 2005 - 2008, Navarrete x Kajiyama were Artists in Residence at ODC theater. In 2006, NAKA was named one of the 25 to Watch by Dance Magazine. In 2007, they collaborated with visual artists from EastSide Arts Alliance, an organization of artists and community organizers of color in East Oakland, to create the performance environment for The Revenge of Huitlacoche. That same year, Navarrete x Kajiyama were invited to present their work at the Hemispheric Institution on performance and Politics' Encuentro in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2008 and 2014, they were chosen to be the San Francisco representative for SCUBA Touring Network performances in Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Seattle. In 2010/11 NAKA Dance Theater were Irvine Fellows at the Lucas Artist Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center. Their work has been presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, ODC Theatre, the Queer Arts Festival, Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC), the Yerba Buena Choreographers Festival, California State University East Bay, the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center Performance Series, the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.
Ross Travis (Lead Artist) is a professional Actor/Creator, Bouffon, Clown and Circus Performer who has studied with world renown master pedagogues including Dodi DiSanto, Giovanni Fusetti, Ronlin Foreman and Master Lu Yi. Ross’ lineage of training and experience allows him to create unique and provocative performances that combine buoyant humor, cutting satire, physical spectacle and unscripted audience interaction to provoke and challenge his audiences. He has developed multiple works in this vein including Apocalyptika, a satirical romp that took a sledgehammer to the convenient stories we tell ourselves about how our world will end and You Killed Hamlet, or Guilty Creatures Sitting At A Play, which skewered the ways in which Western society avoids death. This show won critical acclaim while touring from San Francisco to Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal. The piece was awarded the San Francisco Best of the Fringe Award, the Vancouver/Plank Magazine Talk of the Fringe Award, a nomination for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight Critic’s Pick Award, and was an Official Selection of the Toronto Festival of Clowns.
Amit Patel is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher living in Fremont, California.
As a first generation Indian American, Amit strives to fuse his cultures by bringing together different disciplines of dance. He is a pioneer of an unconventional style of dance called "Indian Contemporary," something Amit discovered when he fused his Eastern culture with his Western training. Amit is equally notable for his rebellious pieces in heels, known as “Bollywood Heels,” which challenge the norms of sexual identity in dance.
Dan Griffiths is an award winning theatre maker, director, and teacher. He has created and performed numerous original theatrical works in over 45 states and 25 countries since 1988. and has served as faculty for Clown Conservatory San Francisco, The School for Mime Theater, Columbia College Chicago, Roosevelt University, Academy of Art University and Indiana University Northwest. Most recently he taught Clown at The Wu Qiao International Circus Festival in Shijiazhuang China and at The Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater. Dan has studied with Marcel Marceau, Gregg Goldston, Moni Yakim, David Shiner, Stefan Niedzialkowski, at The School for Mime Theatre and The Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater. Dan holds an M.A. in Experimental Performance from New College of California and an M.F.A in Interdisciplinary Art from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
During their residency period, RAWdance Co-Artistic Directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein, in collaboration with Scenic Designer Sean Riley and Composer Joel St. Julien, will be developing material for a new site-specific work commissioned by the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. Titled Through My Fingers Deep, this dance will draw inspiration not just from the architecture of the Gardens, but also from the layers beneath the feet of the dancers and audiences. The landscape brings up questions that are intensely personal and emotional, as well as geographic. What happens when the ground beneath your feet is not what you think it is? Where does the surface end and the foundation begin? Do we follow the clearly constructed paths designed for us, or invent our own?
In their own words, “Our primary interest in Zaccho’s residency program is to establish a home for the creation of a new work for the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in July. Being able to create the work at Zaccho would have an unquestionably positive impact on the work; A consistent home for rehearsals, space to work with and store sets, and a studio large enough to create work on the scale of the performance site. We are also interested in connecting to a different community. Our hope is that working at Zaccho would offer more than just space, but also the opportunity to interact with other artists, and reach out to the surrounding audience through an open rehearsal.”
Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein formed RAWdance in 2004 with the mission to reveal an intimate core of our relationships and identities through collaboration and performance. The company makes visually striking, athletic works driven by human interactions, and presents them in unexpected public spaces as well as the theater. SF Weekly dubbed their work “edgy, sexy inventive fare designed to speak to audiences.” Criticaldance hailed it as “experimental work done brilliantly.” The SF Bay Guardian honored RAWdance with a 2014 Goldie Award.
Playwright Kim Euell will be in residence at Zaccho to present The Dance during the summer of 2019. Kim Euell's plays have been developed and performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Center Theater Group's Mark Taper Forum, Hartford Stage Company, Plowshares Theater Company, Manhattan's New Perspectives Theater, and Penumbra Theater Company where she's a Company Member. Kim has worked as a dramaturg at the Sundance Theater Lab and has headed play development programs at the Mark Taper Forum, Hartford Stage, San Jose Repertory Theatre and The Robey Theatre where she was the California Arts Council's Playwright in Residence. Kim teaches playwriting for the VONA/Voices Workshop and at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she is currently the Playwright in Residence. She is an alumna of Stanford University and the University of Iowa's Playwrights Workshop.
Aleja Cobarruviaz (she/her/they/them) is a multidisciplinary poet, singer/songwriter, lyricist, and dancer. As a writer, she draws upon her own experience as a jumping off point for honest discourse on realities of the Black experience. In her own personal life, Aleja is a follower of Christ whose family has a long line of those who see visions and receive words and messages through dreams. Professionally, she is a visionary and business woman who produces vibrant life behind her own unique sound. Her music inspirations include Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Anthony Hamilton, Musiq Soulchild, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Doja Cat, and Kanye West. Her work is about community-driven power and carving out unique spaces for uncomfortable truths to be heard and explored.
Rama Mahesh Hall (he/him) is a dancer, choreographer and educator of hip hop, house dance, locking, and waacking. He also trains in capoeira, West African, and Afro-Haitian dance, and has performed in works by Eric Fenn of Loose Change. As an educator, Rama teaches meditation to youth in a San Francisco middle school. Rama is part of the inaugural cohort of the Hip Hop Artist Residency & Training program with Zaccho Dance Theatre and PUSH Dance Company. He has toured and taught nationally and internationally, most notably with the Embodiment Project.
Honest (he/him) is an American rapper, songwriter and record producer. His rap lyricism draws upon precise description of his environment along with socially conscious and mental health advocacy. Early on Honest was exposed to such inspirations as his mom & dad; and influential rappers like j Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and drake. As a community activist, Honest continues to work and produce music in his Bay Area hometown and is co-founder of OTS recording studios.
Jamil Nasim (he/him/they/them) is a post-disciplinary musician and visual artist who moves between media and soundscape ecology. Nasim shifts recorded sounds from symbolic Black life and linguistics into hip hop music primarily through sampling technology and electronic processing. Nasim has exhibited at the 1506 Haight Gallery and is part of the inaugural cohort of the Hip Hop Artist Residency & Training program with Zaccho Dance Theatre and PUSH Dance Company. He has been featured by Cosmo Records and he has been producing an ongoing series of electronic, house, and hip hop music events.
Khissa Sano (she/her) is a Bronx-born interdisciplinary hip hop dancer and cultural practitioner who grew up in Oakland. Under the lineage of Sano, she is a principal dancer of traditional West African Guinean dance and music. She has trained at Destiny Arts for 11 years, while studying at the Oakland School of the Arts and ODC Dance School. Sano has been a member of Future Shock Dance Company and in various music videos. She is currently a dance major at Cal State Long Beach.
Ran de Casa (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist based in San Francisco working at the intersection of music and visual media art. Ran de Casa mixes various musical genres with Hip Hop music. At the same time, he has collaborated with artists ranging from gospel, rock and R&B soul to jazz music and Afropop. He is dedicated to documenting visual memories and real life through his media and film. Early on, Ran de Casa was exposed to artists who blend visual and music elements such as the Funkadelics. While pursuing his music and film career, he also received degrees from American University Washington College of Law and University of Michigan.
Danielle Smith (she/her) is an Oakland-based multidisciplinary hip hop artist and educator from “the 216,” better known as Cleveland. Her credits include performing for Major Hammy at Princess Drag at Oasis, Oghodo General at New Karibbean City, and BamB the Man at Zanzi among others. Danielle holds a B.A. in dance and social justice from the University of San Francisco. Her choreography has been presented at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Massachusetts since 2019. As an administrator, she serves as manager of Marketing & Communications at the Bay Area Children's Theatre. Danielle is thrilled to be presenting her work as part of the Hip Hop Artist Residency & Training program with PUSH Dance Company & Zaccho Dance Theatre.
Jamey Williams (he/him) is an award-winning spoken word poet, actor, and educator. While actively engaging in his artistic career, he is also a community organizer who teaches spoken word poetry workshops in K-12 schools. His poetry has gained him international attention, especially for his complex lyricism and work on socio-political awareness. Williams is co-founder of Rich Oak Alchemy Open Mic as well as the Slam Poetry Club. His awards include being dubbed “the nicest poet in the country” after winning the 2017 Compliment Death Match at the National Poetry Slam and runner up at America’s Best College Poet competition in 2020. As an actor, his television commercial work includes the “Truth Anti Tobacco,” which aired nationally and for the 2018 Grammys.