The Center employs over 60 outstanding and committed faculty throughout its programs.
They provide the students with state of the art training and are mentors in every sense of the word.



Philip enthusiastically shares his wide range of gifts- as educator, dancer and choreographer. Currently teaching music and dance at Stege and Verde Elementary Schools, Philip brings his dual passion for arts and education into each of his classes. Before coming to the Bay Area, Philip worked in his native Ghana where he studied and taught Dance and Choreography. A recent highlight was his contribution to "Amazing Child," a popular Ghanaian reality television show. In addition to teaching, Philip continues to practice his craft as a performing dancer and choreographer. 


Born and raised in the Bay Area, Abigail has spent the majority of her life at the Center.  She is a recent graduate of Contra Costa College with an AS-T in Administration of Justice and 2 AA Liberal Arts degrees. Abigail is working towards a BA in Theater Design and a BS in Criminology.  While in the Young Artist Diploma Program at the Center, Abigail focused on Hip-Hop, Ballet and Mexican music and dance. She was also part of several ensemble groups and worked as a teaching assistant. Abigail graduated from the Diploma Program in 2011.  She is now working at the Center with the Production Department and as dance teacher in the School Partnerships Department.  


Born and raised in the melting pot neighborhood of New Town, Accra, Francis grew up surrounded by the sights and sounds of all of Ghana’s many ethnic groups. As a drumming instructor at the University of Ghana for almost two decades, he has mentored many of Ghana’s up-and-coming performers and introduced countless students from around the world to Ghanaian traditions. He regularly performs with many of Ghana’s leading traditional and neo-traditional ensembles and Afropop bands in the North America, and he has performed, taught master classes, and conducted workshops at universities throughout the US and Canada, including McGill, Tufts, Wesleyan, SUNY Stony Brook, Mount Holyoke, Brandeis, UC Irvine, and CalArts. A newcomer to the Bay Area, he is also teaching at the University of San Francisco and Mills College. 

Kwesi Anku


Kwesi Anku received his training in West African music, dancing and drumming at the University of Legon, Ghana. After obtaining his BFA in Dance in 2004, he became a teaching assistant for the School of Performing Arts, working with local students and study abroad participants, namely from: UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and San Francisco State University. He is also an accomplished performer, having performed with the Ghana Dance Ensemble and the Performing Arts Workshop, two of Ghana’s most prestigious dance ensembles. Since moving to the East Bay, he worked for World Arts West and the SF Ethnic Dance Festival. This past year, Kwesi was promoted to become the Center’s Associate Director of Student Development and Training –in addition to maintaining classes as a West African drumming dance instructor. Kwesi is also a principal dancer in CK Ladzekpo’s West African Music and Dance Ensemble.

Tiffany Austin


Tiffany Austin had sung on three continents- around her native Los Angeles while attending college, then for a year in London, and eventually for five and a half years in Tokyo- before setting music aside upon being accepted in 2009 at the University of California's Boalt School of Law in Berkeley. Yet the itch by the music bug never went away, and a year into her law studies, she enrolled on a full scholarship in a local music school, where her refreshingly original singing style attracted the attention of such innovative young San Francisco Bay Area bandleaders as bassist Marcus Shelby, and tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley. Although she did earn a Juris Doctorate in 2012, while her peers were taking the bar exam, Austin decided instead to devote her life to her first love: Music.

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Ashley Brown is originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, but is now an official West Coaster. After completing full training (in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Tap) with The Academy of Ballet Florida and a year dancing with the company, Ashley jumped at the opportunity to go on an adventure of a lifetime. In 2009, she moved out to the San Francisco Bay area to receive a degree with the Alonzo King's LINES BFA program. During her time in the BFA program she had the opportunity to learn many different movement disciplines including: Anatomy and Kinesiology, Gyrotonic(R), Release/Gaga, and Axis system. During her career dancing, Ashley has had the opportunity to work with many different choreographers such as Ben Stevenson, Alonzo King, Val Caniporoli, Sarah Berges Dance, Joe Landini, Melissa Payne Project, Emote Dance Theater, and most recently Alyce Finwall Dance Theater. Since graduation Ashley has been teaching all over the Bay area and most recently received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. 


A native to the San Francisco Bay Area, Cesar Cancino enjoys a musically diverse career as a pianist, musical director, and conductor. He graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Muisc and then studied piano with Alain Naude, a pupil of the great Dinu Lipatti. For 5 years he toured with singer/songwriter Joan Baez a her musical director/pianist for Teatro Zinzanni (a European style circus-cabaret in San Francisco). He is also a recipient of the Bay Area Theater Critic’s Circle award for Outstanding Musical Director. Mr. Cancino has performed throughout North America, Europe and Australia.  Local credits include Berkeley Rep, Silicon Valley Symphony, Cinnabar Theater, Broadway By The Bay, 42nd Street Moon, Theaterworks, Beach Blanket Babylon, Monterey County Symphony, and Musical Director/Conductor of Morrison Theatre Chorus. He was for 6 years the musical director for Palazzo, a German company that produces a variety of circus-cabaret shows in Europe.  


Julia has been a part of the East Bay Center community since 2013, when she started co-teaching the jazz ensemble with Diploma Program alumnae. Julia works on-site in the School Partnerships department and teaches K-5 Community Music-Making classes at King Elementary and Richmond College Prep.  She incorporates her training in Orff-Schulwerk method teaching by integrating movement, games, and improvisation into every lesson. Julia received her B.A. from Wesleyan University in Music and Latin American Studies. Throughout college she directed an elementary music school program, toured with a Neo-Soul group as the saxophonist, and practiced West African Drumming and Dance. Julia facilitates the Living Loud! Diploma student groups, and is passionate about working with kids and teens through the lens of social-emotional learning and world music. 

Jason Chiu


Jason Chiu has been a Piano Instructor with EBCPA since 2006. He has a B.A. of music degree from UC Berkeley and a M.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Jason has received numerous prizes in local competitions and has performed with the University Symphony Orchestra at UC Berkeley. He was a recipient of the Eisner Award for achievement in the creative arts while attending Berkeley. Jason earned his M.M. in 2004 studying with Dr. Sharon Mann, and has been teaching piano ever since. He has performed at the Aspen Music Festival and the Bowdoin Festival in Maine, and internationally in China and Taiwan. 





Kyla Danysh is a Berkeley native who is passionate about teaching and playing music.  A violinist since the age of five, Kyla grew up studying classical and Klezmer music, and discovered her love of improvisation through the exploration of Son Jarocho, Son Huasteco, "gypsy jazz", Balkan music and boleros. She has since traveled to Veracruz a number of times to study, record and perform with her mentors there, and currently plays with local groups Tarimba and Cascada de Flores. Kyla is also a dedicated teacher: she taught literacy classes for many years to middle and high school students at Making Waves Education Program in Richmond, and currently teaches music at Wilson and Stege elementary schools, and violin lessons at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.

Ruthie Dineen


Ruthie Dineen, MSW, has been with the Center since 2010 and Deputy Director of Programs since 2012. She is a bilingual (Spanish/English) social worker and musician who served as Outreach Development & Student Services Coordinator, as well as Winters Building Re-opening Project Director, prior to moving to her current position.  Her experience as a social worker and E.S.L. teacher demonstrates her strong commitment for working with underserved communities.  She also has extensive experience promoting the arts as a music teacher; working in public elementary schools and in youth centers.  She has a master’s degree in social work from CSU East Bay, a BA from U.C. Berkeley, and BFA in Jazz Studies from Berkeley’s Jazzschool Institute.  As a pianist, she performs regularly in several jazz and Latin groups in the Bay Area. 



Son de la Tierra, Co-Director

A native of the Bay Area, Lolis García received her BA in Psychology from the University of San Francisco.  A talented musician and dancer, Lolis has mastered multiple string and percussion instruments associated with the son of Mexico. She has been with the Center for 21 years, studying and teaching Mexican music and dance, hip-hop, modern dance and West African dance, both at the main site and after-school programs. In 2009, she participated in EBCPA’s joint production, Yanga, with the Oakland Museum of Art. The program was an exploration of the crossroads of Mexican and African traditional music. In 2004, she received an Alliance of California Traditional Arts grant for an intensive master-apprentice program where she studied with Artemio Posadas. She is currently part of Tarimba a musical project that focuses on Son Jarocho

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Norman Gee has worked in theater for over twenty years and is the Artistic Director of the Oakland Public Theater.  He was Assistant Director on the world premiere of Buffalo'ed by Jeannie Barroga at the San Jose Stage Company.  Mr. Gee also directed a production of Ms. Barroga's Banyan at Vallejo's Mira Theater.  Other directing credits include Children of the Last Days and Before The Dream.  As an actor, he's performed with Shotgun Players, Cal Shakes, TheaterWorks, and Word for Word.  Norman has been a teaching artist for many years with organizations such as Cal Shakes and Berkeley Rep.

Kyra Gordon


Kyra is an Oakland native, and is happy to have moved back to the bay. After spending a year performing in Paris, France, at Les Carveau Des Oubliettes and The One Way Cafe, she earned a B.Mus. in Jazz Vocal Performance from the California Jazz Conservatory. She has performed with Martha High, Boney Fields, Lucky Peterson, and Kenny Neal, and has been a background vocalist for Vernon Bush, appearing onstage with Taj Mahal.  Her vocals are on the soundtracks for the feature films “Owned” and “Bert”. She is also a vocalist and founding member of the improvised hip-hop collective The Freeze. She is passionate about teaching young people, and helping create environments where they can explore their uniquely creative selves.


Jonathon Hampton directs the Children's Chorus, comprised of elementary and middle school aged boys and girls, largely at the beginner level. As part of the East Bay Center for Performing Arts program, he also teaches in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Having directed choirs for over a decade, Hampton is a unique and versatile conductor and voice teacher specializing in early music, sacred repertoire, spirituals, and contemporary pop. He is also an Associate Director of Pacific Boychoir where he directs the high school a cappella group, Continuum, and where, since 2004. He is also a voice teacher for Piedmont East Bay Children's Chorus. In addition to having given lectures, workshops, and performance reviews across the country, he created a new choral program as Director of Choristers at Grace Church in Newark (NJ) for two seasons. He also founded and led two choirs in affiliation with his Alma mater, Cornell University ‐ The Chorus & Glee Club Summer Ensemble and The Alumni Singers. Hampton also spent five years with Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, coordinating music education programs, annually serving over 400,000 students, teachers, and young professional artists across the globe. 


Growing up in Vallejo, Marissa studied dance at Berkeley Ballet Theater under Sally Streets and Ilona McHugh. She then pursued her BFA in Dance at Alonzo King LINES Ballet/ Dominican University of California. Prior to graduation in 2017, Marissa performed and taught in Guatemala and Nicaragua with JUNTOS Collective. There, she shared dance with a variety of participants like refugee centers, Guateman national television, HIV positive hospitals, and barrios. In 2016-2017, she co-lead a project for the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards to celebrate their 30th Anniversary along with the Bay Area dance community of 30+ years. Marissa continues to dance and choreograph professionally around the Bay Area. She is also a trainer at San Francisco GYROTONIC®.There, she has taught  movement health and mechanics to dancers of the LINES Training Program, LINES BFA Program, SFSU, and San Francisco Ballet.

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Richmond Chamber Ensemble Co-Director 

Hiyas Hila, DMA, was born in the Philippines. She holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, both with Mack McCray as her mentor), and the University of Minnesota (Doctor of Musical Arts, with Lydia Artymiw as her teacher). She was a recipient of several scholarships and fellowship awards such as the Sergei Barsukov Scholarship for Piano, the Asian Cultural Council fellowship grant, and the University of Minnesota Centennial Piano Fellowship. Dr. Hila was the top prize winner in several piano competitions including the 2005 University of Minnesota Concerto Competitions; the 2006 and 2007 Elinor Bell Piano Competition; and First Prize in Piano, Graduate Division, at the 2006 Schubert Club competitions in St. Paul, Minnesota. An active solo, orchestral and chamber music performer, she has been a featured artist in concerts in the Philippines, Spain and the United States. Her “dazzling tones and well-nuanced keyboard artistry” have received praises from critics.

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A native of Oakland, Antoine is an award-winning African American Deaf and Hard of Hearing choreographer, dancer, dance instructor, actor, poet, deaf advocate and producer. He has performed with the Savage Jazz Dance Company, Nuba Dance Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Alayo Dance Company, Sins Invalid, Sonic Dance Theater of Epiphany Productions, Cat Willis, Push Dance Company and Robert Moses’ Kin Dance Company, Sign Dance Collective. In 2007, he founded and continues to direct Urban Jazz Dance Company. In August 2013, he founded the Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival.




Nikita Jew attended the Berkeley City Ballet from the age of eight years old. She has attended many summers there as well as summer intensives at the Marin Ballet Theater and Dance Theatre of Harlem under full scholarships. After graduating high school, she moved to New York City to dance with the Dance Theatre of Harlem full time for five years. While she was there she performed in Bermuda, Detroit and the boroughs of New York. She now has been dancing with the Urban Jazz Dance Company under Center Alumni Antoine Hunter since September 2008. She began teaching at the Dance Theatre of Harlem and continues to be active in her community where she teaches at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA, and the East Bay Center. Nikita is also a certified Pilates instructor. She has a very strong love for teaching and hopes to see young dancers grow and fulfill their dreams.


Carla Kaufman is a multifaceted musician, teacher and composer who plays both bass and cello in classical, new music, and jazz arenas. After earning a BA in Music from University of California at Berkeley, she has pursued an eclectic career in professional symphonies, chamber groups, jazz ensembles, serving as both a performer and composer in many Bay Area new music groups. As an instructor, she encourages improvisa-tion and composition as a path to excellent musicianship.

Photo Credit: Sandy Morris

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Richmond Bloco Steel Band Director

Joe Kelly moved to the Bay Area in October 2003 after spending seven years post baccalaureate studying the physics and mechanics behind the steel drum. Combining the latest technology and innovations, with a meticulous eye for detail, Joe produces some of the finest steel drums available today. Joe speaks regularly at schools and universities, giving clinics and workshops pertaining to tuning, performance, history, and culture. Joe has performed internationally with artists and ensembles like Pan Harmony, Panyard All-Stars, Island Grooves, Greg Pare' Quartet, Mariachi Libre, Wynnona Judd, Burt Bacharach, Pink Martini and locally with the Napa Valley, California, and San Francisco Symphonies. This past year Joe performed a concerto for pan, accompanied by the 60 member chorus, Viva la Musica. Joe enjoys teaching music at Bahia Vista Elementary School and has been Director of the East Bay Center’s Steel Band program since 2010.

Betty Ladzekpo


West African Music and Dance Ensemble Co-Director

Betty has been with East Bay Center since 1985.  Ms. Ladzekpo is a Core Faculty Member of the Center, and has a long history as a teacher and performer.  She is a principal dancer with the Ladzekpo Brothers African Music and Dance ensemble.  Ms. Ladzekpo has performed at major venues throughout the U.S. including the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, and the African Cultural Festival (“The Afrikans Are Coming”).  Ms. Ladzekpo is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley in African Dance.  

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West African Music and Dance Ensemble Co-Director

C.K. Ladzekpo is a Professor of African Music and Dance at UC Berkeley. Over the years, he has worked to include the effective representation of the African perspective in the modern arenas of major colleges, concert stages, theaters and television. Dr. Ladzekpo has held positions as lead drummer and instructor with the National Dance Company of Ghana, the University of Ghana, and Ghana Arts Council. He has directed and taught African dance forms and polyrhythmic percussion ensemble music at many international venues.



Lyle Link, a Music Coordinator at East Bay Center, currently works in School Partnerships as well Onsite. Through School Partnerships, Lyle coordinates Arts Integration Professional Development programing in our partnering elementary schools. Prior to this role, Lyle coordinated and supported teaching artists with their classroom teaching, and taught music to grades 4-6 at a local school. As part of the Onsite team, Lyle coordinates private lessons, supports teachers and students, and teaches ensembles and classes. Before joining the East Bay Center community, Lyle taught private lessons and jazz ensembles at the Levine School in Washington, DC. In addition to teaching music, Lyle taught as a homeroom 3rd grade teacher at Sheridan School, as well as providing private lessons. Lyle is excited to be part of the East Bay Center community! 

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Kwaku received his education and training in West African Music and Dance at the University of Ghana. After obtaining his BFA degree in Dance in 2004, he was employed by the University of Ghana as a Senior Production Assistant and worked in the capacity of Dance and Drumming Instructor from 2004-2010. He received the Curtain Call Costumes Rising Star award from the Dance Council of North Texas to attend American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina in 2010.  He was selected on numerous occasions to travel abroad to perform and teach African Music and Dance. He is currently working with East Bay Center teaching African Music and Dance to teenagers, is involved in a variety of Out of School Time (OST) programs for children from kindergarten to 6th grade, as well as an in-school professional development  program at Title One Schools called Learning Without Borders.



Vreni originally from Mexico, grew up as a migrant in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Peru, Qatar and California. While in Virginia Vreni obtained a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, two years later, Vreni received her MFA from the University of Berkeley, California. Vreni is an educator with an extensive teaching experience with children, teens and adults, she has taught-learned internationally since 2008 in China, Qatar, Peru, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Mexico and in different parts of the US. Vreni is interested in exploring the art of freestyle. She is invested in oral tradition, Hip Hop, Traditional Mexican Medicine and performance as a healing practice.



Maurice is a multi-talented actor who started as a student at East Bay Center back when he was in high school. After 12 years of rigorous training in the arts, he became a theater faculty member, as well as Iron Voices Project Lead. Maurice is also the instructor for Children’s Theater and the Director for ITT’s 2015 Young Artists Repertory Series performance. He is currently in pursuit of an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and hopes to one day join the "big leagues."


Eliza O'Malley


Eliza O’Malley, soprano, trained at AIMS in Graz, Austria, Aspen School of Music, the Wesley Balk Institute, BASOTI, Oberlin College, and earned an M.M. in Voice Performance at Texas Tech University School of Music. She produces a series of monthly Works in Progress concerts at the Chamber Arts House in Berkeley, which she helped to found. A great lover of new music, she has premiered works by Lisa Scola Prosek, Stephen Clark, Mark Alburger, Sheli Nan, Allan Crossman and more while working with Goat Hall Productions/San Francisco Cabaret Opera over the past couple of years. She has also premiered music by Peter Josheff, Mary Watkins and Alexis Alrich and sung opera roles with The Santa Cruz Chamber Orchestra, Oakland Opera Theater, Berkeley Opera, Solo Opera, BASOTI, and Capitol Opera Sacramento. She also produces and sings in the “Dazzling Divas” nights of opera arias at the Bateau Ivre.

Joe Orrach

Joe is an actor, singer, dancer and story-teller who has worked in theatres across Europe, Asia and North America, television and on screen. He started his dance career as a tap dancer on the streets of NYC where Gregory Hines discovered him. On stage, Joe has performed with Joan Baez, Bob Hope, the Smothers Brothers, Michael Davis, Liliane Montevechi, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Melissa Manchester, and the Cookie Monster, among others. He has tap danced with such greats as Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde and Savion Glover, and old masters including the Nicholas Brothers, Honi Coles, Charles "Cookie" Cook, Chuck Green and Lon Cheney.  He has been directed by Woody Allen (Everyone Says I Love You), James Mangold (Copland), Tim Boxell (Valley of the Heart's Delight), Stefan Haves (Punch Drunk) and David Shiner (Nacht Mund). CNN International profiled Joe on "People in the Arts." Joe received his MFA from University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts in Acting.

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Achyutan is a Veteran Jazz Drummer and has been Faculty at East Bay Center since 1998. He has been a professional drummer for over 40 years, with musical roots that go back to Kansas City where he studied at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and played drums for five years with the legendary Jay McShann. He performed with jazz greats John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Archie Shepp and Ruswell Rudd. He enjoyed concert tours in Italy and France with Gato Barbieri and played throughout the East Coast with the late Pony Poindexter, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Booker Ervin. He has recorded with many jazz legends including Pharoah Sanders and Sonny Simmons and has mentored more than a few generations of great professional drummers.


Glen Pearson


Pianist Glen Pearson has brought sensitivity and expression to the widest variety of music imaginable. His performances on stage, television, radio, and in the recording studios have included his well known position as principle keyboardist for Regina Belle, as well as pianist and orchestrator with such notables as Jimmy Scott, Ernestine Anderson, Dianne Reeves, Marlena Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Delfeayo Marsalis, James Moddy, Frank Morgan, Chico Freeman and Will Downing. Mr. Pearson also served eleven years as the Musical/Band Director for the world renowned Boy's Choir of Harlem.Glen's recording credits are numerous, most notably an award winning jazz album by percussionist Babatundae Lea. He has also appeared both on record and in videos with Will Downing and Gerald Albright. He has worked both on and off Broadway with Savion Glover, Gregorgy Hines, Arthur Miller, Patrick Stewart and George Wolfe.

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Son de la Tierra Director

Son de la Tierra Director, received his B.A. in Humanities from the University of San Luis Potosi. He is a master in traditional Son, expert with a wide variety of traditional instruments. He specializes in Huastecan and Jarocho music and dance; as a scholar he researches regional cultural traditions for an organization he founded, Instituto Tamunal. Mr. Posadas has performed extensively at festivals and events internationally. He has been internationally recognized for his preeminent role in the development of regional Mexican music and dance.


Erica Richardson studied music and theater at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. During her time living in Salt Lake, Erica won various awards for her music and theater performances and was invited and performed as a guest soloist for the Utah Governors Gala and was also a guest soloist in NYC at the 35th Annual Prestige Awards. Erica began teaching during her college studies and has been teaching ever since. Erica is a Soul-Reggae Jazz Hip Hop Rock Artist and performs music and theater throughout the bay area and is currently performing and makes music a part of her daily routine. Erica has been nominated for and has won awards and pained acknowledgments for her theatrical performances throughout the bay area. Erica currently teaches singing, vocal performance, musical theater performance, acting, dance and beginning piano, private and group classes. 

Miss T


Teyahnee, also known as “Ms. T” brings forth a solid 20 plus years of a rich dance background in jazz, hip-hop, tap and gymnastics.  She received her dance training from various performing arts studios such as the Center, and “The Edge” dance studio in North Hollywood. “Ms. T” relocated back to the Bay area from L.A. where she has performed and choreographed for local bay area artists. She is currently giving back to the community by teaching bay area youth hip-hop and jazz dance.


Chelsea O


Chelsea is a graduated from the National Circus School of Canada with a specialty in Aerial Kite (an aerial apparatus she invented).  She has performed internationally with companies such as Cirque Plume in France, Cavalia, Sens Productions, Rea’son d’etre productions and Zaccho Dance Theatre. She has initiated numerous collaborations, which include: Pordis (Icelandic film), Taryn Derlin (Bristol film), Sunlight Zone (Aerial dance performance), Escape Velocity (Helicopter film), Cirqu'elle (Aerial dance performance- was in residence at the Center). She co-produced and directed the show: ‘Chuckles’ which toured to hospitals and retirement homes in Vancouver’s lower mainland. Today Chelsea is based in the Bay Area and continues to bring together enthusiastic teams to explore uncharted ground. She currently teaches aerial acrobatics at the Center. 


TT Robson’s love of dance, rock climbing and acro blossomed into a passion for circus arts.  An innovative performer and sought-after coach, TT has developed intricate acts and collaborated with an impressive array of artists in her 14 years as an aerialist, dancer and character performer with The Vau De Vire Society and many other prestigious circus companies. TT is also Development and Communications Associate at the Center. 

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Mien Legends Director

E Yoon Saelee is a Mien (Laotian) scholar, priest and shaman, a former soldier and prisoner of war of the Khmer Rouge in Laos, and a respected elder in the Richmond immigrant community. Mr. Saelee is also a sought-after storyteller and poet-composer, speaking at least seven languages: Mien, Lao, Thai, Hmong, Mandarin, some Cantonese and English. He comes from a long line of Mien shaman/priests and has an extraordinary memory and repertoire of stories, as well as, musical gifts and ceremonial skills.


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Voices of Reason Co-Director

Playing music since the age of four, Dana was classically trained by her Russian mother, and then went on to become schooled in the ways of jazz.  Dana received her degree from the New School of Jazz and Contemporary music and does all her own production, writing and performing.  She also does session work as a keyboardist and singer; performs with her own band as well as being a backing musician/singer for other artists; and is a musical director and bandleader.   She has been touching audiences at various venues on the east and west coast including Bam Café (Brooklyn Art Museum) in Brooklyn, NY, S.O.B.’s (NY), Joe’s Pub (NY), Yoshi’s San Francisco, The Shattuck Down Low in Berkeley and many more. Dana’s website is: www.myspace.com/danasalzman



Candace was a member of  the San Diego Symphony for 5 years, and moved to the Bay Area in 1981 as a member of the Oakland Symphony. She is presently still a member of the Oakland East Bay Symphony along with the Berkeley Symphony and the Fremont Symphony. Candace has taught in the Oakland Schools through the Oakland East Bay Symphony’s Muse program for the last 10 years and at the Center for 8 years. She is a member of the Luna Nova quartet, and Mt Tamalpais string quartet. She studied trumpet at San Diego State University and continues to enjoy playing and teaching the trumpet.

Priya Shah


Priya Shah’s area of expertise is classical ballet. She has taught all levels of ballet technique, pointe, and variations, as well as seminars in social dance, Pilates, conditioning for dance, dance history, choreography and dance composition, dance appreciation, ballet mime, and modern dance. Priya has been faculty member of the Ballet Pacifica Academy (Irvine, CA), a former lecturer at the University of California, Irvine and Mira Costa College and San Francisco City College. Priya’s additional work with youth includes Cal Performance’s Summer Alvin Ailey Camp.


Alan Shearer


Alan Shearer joined the faculty of East Bay Center in 2005.  Prior to then, he was an active performer and teacher in the Bay Area.  In addition to his work at EBCPA, he has taught in the Dominican University Suzuki Music School since 1990, as well as having numerous private students in violin and viola in the East Bay and Marin County. Mr. Shearer's performing experience includes work with the Napa Valley, Berkeley, San Jose, Marin, Santa Rosa, and other symphony orchestras.  He has been a member of several orchestras in the eastern United States, and is also active in chamber music and recording work. Mr. Shearer holds a Master of Music degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a Bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University.  He has taken formal study in conducting and Suzuki violin teaching methodology.  His work has taken him around the United States, Europe, South America, and Japan.



Iron Triangle Theater Director

Jordan Simmons is a native of Richmond and a former East Bay Center student, as well as a Faculty member since 1978. Mr. Simmons has served as Artistic Director since 1985, developing curriculum, in addition to writing, directing and producing dozens of critical original theater and interdisciplinary works.  For over 35 years, in addition to his role in building the Center, Mr. Simmons has maintained an active life as a Mestre of Capoeira, a licensed Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player and teacher, and a musician in the African Music And Dance Ensemble, working closely with and under the guidance of three of his principle mentors:  Ubirajara Almeida, (Mestre Acordeon) Masayuki Koga, and CK Ladzekpo. Recognition for Mr. Simmons’ work has ranged from the Governor of California’s Award for “Outstanding Individual in the Arts,” to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences “Outstanding Contribution to the Bay Area Arts,” an inaugural City of Richmond Human Rights Award, and the San Francisco Foundation’s Helen Crocker Russell Award made to an under-recognized, mature artist who has made a significant and ongoing contribution in the Bay Area…” Mr. Simmons is a graduate of Reed College in American Studies/Jazz music.


Derek Smith has been entertaining audiences for more than 10 years though his innovative music that combines the melodic brightness of the Caribbean steel drum with the driving rhythms of Calypso and Latin Jazz. Smith's unique sound is inspired by legendary musicians like timbales king Tito Puente, Latin Jazz vibraphone great Cal Tjader, and calypso master Lord Kitchener. Smith manages several bands reflecting each of his musical strengths and interests. Performing on steel drums for the majority of his performances, his talent isn't limited to the pan. His credits also include a long list of drumset, percussion, and vibraphone appearances on other musicians' albums. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in music, with an emphasis on percussion.



Richard Is a stunt and stage combat instructor, with 35+ years of experience and record of safety. His work has appeared in every media genre. He is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Marin, Board Chair of 4 Springs Retreat Center (A Jungian retreat Ctr.) He is the 'Gogy'(Founder), of Flowing Dragon Swords: a dynamic practice of connection and care. Flowing Dragon Swords braids together three strands of unique life experience: counseling of at risk youth; teaching of stunt and stage combat; and mentoring by indigenous and Far Eastern teachers. He is also a Martial Artist, Stone Mason, therapeutic counselor, Grandfather, and C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocate.

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Voices of Reason Co-Director 

Valerie Troutt is a remarkable singer-songwriter with a unique approach to jazz and original compositions.  Ms. Troutt's accomplishments include a year-long run at San Francisco's Red Poppy Art House and performing for the 2009 Best of East Bay Express party.  She has performed with Tiombe Lockhart of Cubic Zirconium, Les Nubians, Sabina Sciubba, singer-songwriters Jennifer Johns, Maria Muldaur and Mala Waldron, and modern composers, Emanuel Ruffler, Howard Wiley, and Jaz Sawyer.  Ms. Troutt has written and arranged music for the Oakland Youth Chorus, See.Think.Dance (Museum of African Diaspora) and Higher Ground Neighborhood Corp.


Javier Trujillo was born in Lima, Peru where he studied Classical Guitar at the Conservatorio de Musica de Lima, later on he continued at UC Berkeley where he
studied Musicology as well. He has participated in various festivals in USA and Peru as a performer and educator, always sharing the importance of the guitar in Latinoamerica. Living in the East Bay Javier has had the opportunity to have master classes with different classical guitar masters related to the Omni Foundation of the Performing Arts. While playing with different bands and ensembles in the Bay Area, Javier explored both classical and popular music with Vibo Simfani, Proyecto Lando, Ajayu, just to name a few. He felt the need to further investigate the Afro-Peruvian guitar and became engaged with the style, exploring the different rhythms and possibilities in the music of his country.


Carolyn Walter is a freelance music educator and artist, specializing in woodwind performance - she holds a bachelor of music degree in clarinet performance from SFSU.  She is an experienced musical theater orchestra musician, and has played clarinet, bass clarinet, all saxophones, flutes and bassoon for various theater companies all around the bay area.  Carolyn has performed in venues as diverse as Yoshi's Oakland, SF Jazz, Center for New Music, the Freight and Salvage and the Great American Music Hall; she is a long-standing member of several projects including avant-garde soul/pop ensemble Makeunder, metal/chamber music ensemble miRthkon, and the Montclair Women's Big Band.



Iron Triangle Urban Ballet Director

Jamar (a.k.a Jammer) received his Degree in Theater Arts From the Los Angeles Theater Academy. His studies of the performing arts started at the age of 9 at East Bay Center. Jamar is the Artistic Director and Co-founder of  “Housin Authority,”(HA) a Hip Hop dance company created in 1991 in Richmond. HA has been labeled “the pioneers of the street dance movement” by the Oakland Tribune in 1997, and in October 2009 received a Lifetime Dance Achievement Award from WORLD OF DANCE. As an actor/dancer, Jamar has been in videos, commercials, films, plays and concerts. He has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Usher, Beyonce, Bette Midler and Diana Ross to name a few.  As a dance teacher Jamar has toured internationally teaching his signature “Hip House Soul” dance style in Guatemala, Japan and Hawaii.

Howard Wiley


Richmond Jazz Collective Co-Director

Howard Wiley began playing saxophone at age 11 (he was a student at the Center). He received the Thelonious Monk Scholarship, Downbeat Blues/Pop/Rock Instrumentalist Award for Best Soloist & MVP Award for the Grammy All-American Jazz Band. He performs with Marcus Shelby Orchestra and Lavay Smith’s Red Hot Skillet Lickers, as well as working on his own projects as composer and bandleader.



Richmond Chamber Ensemble Co-Director

Ms. Woodhams received her BA from U.C. Berkeley where she majored in music and studied flute with Merrill Jordan.  Pursuing flute performance studies after graduating, she was mentored by Michael Debost, Jean- Pierre Rampal, and Conrad Klemm in Europe and Julius Baker in the USA . In the early 1970's Ms. Woodhams spent four years in South Africa and Namibia, as a member of the Broadcasting Orchestra in Johannesburg, the Durban Symphony, and teaching at the music conservatory in Windhoek.  Returning to the Bay Area, she has played regularly with local orchestras including the San Francisco Ballet, Western Opera Theatre, Oakland Symphony and Ballet, San Jose Symphony and Ballet. She has also appeared as a soloist and frequent member of various chamber music groups. In 2007, after 29 years of dedication, she retired from the flute section of the renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, working under the batons of both Dennis Russell Davies and Marin Alsop.   She maintains a private flute studio and teaches both flute and Chamber Music at the Center.