PHILIP AMO AGYAPONG
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.
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 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.
Bassist Ron Belcher travels the world from France to Japan and throughout the United States bringing his rhythmically buoyant, emotionally uplifting style to the stage for a wide diversity of jazz artists. Performing or recording with such international stars as Branford Marsalis, Regina Carter, Rodney Franklin, John Handy, and Pete Escovedo, as well as a literal “who’s who” of the San Francisco jazz scene, Ron has garnered a reputation as one of northern California’s first-call jazz bassists. A passionate teacher and advocate for children’s education, Ron has served on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, Young Musicians’ Program, and has contributed to several seasons for the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures In Music outreach program. Ron ‘s own studies include jazz improvisation and acoustic bass at several Bay Area colleges, culminating in a degree from Texas College, where he had the honor of membership in the East Texas All-Stars.
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.
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, 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.
DOLORES "LOLIS" GARCÍA
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.
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 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.
Lloyd Gregory is a well-established classic jazz guitarist whose style is smooth, soulful, melodic, flowing and immediately likeable. What makes his approach distinctive is that it evokes unique hints of his extensive R&B roots. He is a master of both acoustic and electric guitar. Although Gregory has released five critically acclaimed albums of his own, he has also recorded with Martha Reeves, MC Smooth and Freddie Stewart (Sly & The Family Stone); and has performed onstage with Rodney Franklin, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Gerald Albright, Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), Freda Payne, The Dells, and Lowell Fulsom. He spent years touring extensively while serving as the musical director for The Ballads, Natural Four and Jesse James, and performed on their albums. As a studio musician in Los Angeles, Gregory worked with producer Richard Perry and played sessions with top musicians such as Klaus Voorman (The Beatles), Arthur Adams (B.B. King, Quincy Jones), Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, George Benson) and Joe Sample (The Crusaders). Raised in Cleveland a part of a musical family, Gregory is now primarily based in San Francisco and has been a popular entertainer on the Bay Area music scene for several decades.
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.
Miya carries the legacy of some of the world’s most renowned dance leaders. Originally trained by Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Eric Hawkins, Gene Hill Sagan, Mary Day, Gloria Contreras and Kevin Iega Jeff. She has trained hundreds of dancers who are members of prestigious companies such as, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Stuttgart Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. A graduate of Barnard College/ Columbia University with a BA in Urban Studies, and an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs/Syracuse University. Former director/faculty at Georgetown University; the Washington School of Ballet; and in El Salvador at the National School of Dance; as director of dance at the Central American University; and creator El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador (TDC) and their school, El Centro para Liderazgo en las Artes. Currently Founder/Artistic Director of TDC, and is a certified Somatics/Pilates personal trainer. www.teatrodedanza.org
Don Howe got his start in the music business while still attending Indiana University, when he was asked to tour with Henry Mancini, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, the Carpenters, Sammy Davis Jr., and the Temptations. After moving to the Bay Area in 1973, he quickly established himself as a regular extra with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and also played several times with the SF Symphony and Ballet Orchestras. Ever the avid teacher, Don switched his emphasis to research and instruction in 1989, and discovered a number of ways to vastly accelerate the learning process for most students along the way. Those discoveries are now part of a lecture that is available to interested parties, called “How You Think Is How You Play!” Don is also an accomplished composer and arranger for brass, and is currently extending his range to jazz bands and full orchestras.
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.
Nathan Jongewaard is passionate about filmmaking, film history and teaching and has been acting, directing and making theater and movies since childhood. He studied classics as an undergraduate at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and has an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts. A long-time resident of the Bay Area, he has also lived in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Washington, D.C., and the People's Republic of China. Since 2011 he has been the Media Production Coordinator at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and is also a freelance producer, shooter and editor for a variety of corporate, non-profit and educational clients.
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.
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.
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.
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 MICHELINI CASTILLO
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.
C MAURICE NUNN
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, 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.
Sarita Ocón is a professional actor, visual artist, and digital media arts educator. Sarita has been performing on the national tour of PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo written by Paul Flores, supported by the partnerships of community organizations, such as the San Francisco International Arts Festival, Homies Unidos, CARECEN and other collaborating Latino theater organizations of the National Performance Network (NPN). Memorable performances include Waiting For Lefty (Ubuntu Theater Project), Ravi Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (San Francisco Playhouse), Octavio Solis' Ghosts of the River (ShadowLight Productions), La Casa en Mango Street and School of the Americas (Teatro Visión). Sarita holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity from Stanford University and a recipient of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts Fellowship. She is a proud company member of the Ubuntu Theater Project and co-founding member of the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. RILEY
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 and is on Staff as Development Associate. For more information visit: www.chelseao.com
E YOON SAELEE
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.
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’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 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.
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.
Marcus Stephens is a woodwind doubler, composer and Bay Area native. Marcus has been active in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area music community for over fifteen years. His versatility and skills has made him an in-demand woodwind performer working with the likes of Marcus Shelby(MSJO), The Shotgun Wedding Hip Hop Symphony, Gurkestra, The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, The Evan Francis Group (formaly known as Space Heater), Myron & E (Stonesthrow Records), Con Brio, hip hop legends The Souls of Mischief, and Grammy/Tony award winning performing Jennifer Holliday. Marcus also leads his own trio and has been blazing new trails with the electro-acoustic collective known as Secret Sidewalk.
W. ALLEN TAYLOR
W. Allen Taylor’s theatre career began in 1979, and includes performances in many regional theatres around the country, as well as in NYC, with such critically acclaimed off-Broadway theatres as the Negro Ensemble Company and La Mama E.T.C. He has also been seen on Broadway in August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars”, and has appeared on network television and in feature films. His solo show, "In Search Of My Father...Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins", which he wrote and performed, was originally commissioned and workshopped at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. The play made its professional debut at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley, CA in 2006 and won the Best Solo-Performance Award from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Allen received his MFA from the American Conservatory Theatre, and served on the theatre faculties of the EBCPA and Laney College before coming to the College of Marin in 2000, where he served as department chair for 5 years. He currently teaches acting and directing, and directs plays as a part of the COM Drama Department faculty.
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.
Peter Wahrhaftig (tuba) is Principal Tubaist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, and is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Bay Brass. He appears frequently with the San Francisco Opera, the Oakland-East Bay Symphony and numerous other local organizations, both in concert and in recordings, including those of Alvin Curran, Christian Wolff, and electro-acoustic composer Chris Brown . Past engagements have been with the Israel Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Ringling Brother-Barnum and Bailey Circus, and heavy metal legends Metallica. In addition to his performance career, Wahrhaftig has performed on the soundtracks of numerous movie and video games. An Oakland native, Peter received his degree from Northwestern University, where he studied with Arnold Jacobs, and has also studied with Floyd Cooley. He can be heard on Alvin Curran’s eclectic CD Animal Sounds, and he now teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, U.C. Berkeley, and privately in the Bay Area. Peter joined SFCMP in 1982.
JAMAR NICHOLAS WELCH
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.
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.