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.

Many of East Bay Center's faculty are also performing artists, who rely on performances and gigs for their livelihood, and have been hit hard by COVID-19. We asked our faculty to share what it means to them to be an artist during this time. Click below to watch some of their responses.



Akwasi Abrefah is a steelpan player who performs and teaches in the Bay, as well as around the world. He was born in Oakland, CA and raised in Richland, WA where, at the age of 9, he started playing steelpan. Through middle school and high school, he traveled around the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. playing with bands OK 2 Botay and Bram Bratá before continuing with Cardinal Calypso in college at Stanford University where he also graduated with a B.S. in Earth Systems. Akwasi currently wears many hats lecturing at Stanford University, teaching elementary school music in Richmond, coordinating college application preparation at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, holding private lessons, and apprenticing as a steelpan builder.



African Music and Dance

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. 


West African Drumming

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. 


Trombone (Brass)

Bryan Alvarez is an educator, entrepreneur, researcher, and professional musician. He graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music with dual degrees in Biology and Trombone Performance, and from UC Berkeley with a PhD in Psychology where he studied the brain-based mechanisms of multi-sensory blending (synesthesia). While at Berkeley, Bryan co-founded three educational outreach programs for K-12 and college students, and continued his educational efforts after completing his doctorate by founding and teaching two music programs in the Oakland Unified School District. He is a seasoned public speaker, having delivered 50+ talks for venues including the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, and TEDxBerkeley. Bryan is also a professional classical trombonist in the Bay Area and plays bandoneon with Seth Asarnow y su Sexteto Tipico.

Kwesi Anku


West African Music and Dance

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.


Ballet, Modern, Yoga

Ashley Brown is originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, but is now an official West Coaster. After completing 12 years of 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 and dancing all over the Bay area.Since 2015 Ashley has been teaching and deepening her Yoga training 2018 she finished her 500hrs program with her teacher Nubia Teixeira.  Ashley continues to grow her education focused in trauma sensitive teachings. Trainings include Yoga for youth from Nigro Institute and TRE (Tension/Trauma Releasing Exercises) with Brooke Deputy. You can learn more at www.ashleybrowndanceandyoga.org.


Piano/ Musical Theater

César Cancino enjoys a musically diverse career as pianist, musical director and conductor.  He attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and then studied piano with Alain Naudé, a pupil of the great Dinu Lipatti.  He was for many years the musical director/pianist for “Teatro Zinzanni” (a european style circus-cabaret in San Francisco) and for several years toured with singer/songwriter Joan Baez as her musical director and pianist. Most recently, he was the Musical Director/Pianist for "Life Without Makeup" a play starring the legendary Rita Moreno at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He is also a recipient of the Bay Area Theatre Critic’s Circle award for “Outstanding Musical Director.”  Mr. Cancino has performed throughout North America, Europe and Australia in such  venues as “Montreux Jazz Festival,” Carnegie Hall, “Int’l Music Festival of Mexico City,” Atlanta “Summer Pops” Symphony and the “New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.”  Local credits include: "Rrazz Room" in San Francisco, "Diablo Theatre Company", "Martinez Opera", "Monterey County Symphony", "Symphony Silicon Valley", "Cinnabar Theater", "42nd St. Moon", and "Douglas Morrisson Theatre". He has appeared with such diverse artists as singers Liliane Montevecchi, Thelma Houston, Florence Henderson, Paula West, Maria Muldaur, Mercedes Sosa; cellist Ron Leonard; and violinists Pierre d’Archambeau and Martha Caplin. From 2006-2012 he was the musical director for “Palazzo”, a German company that presents circus-cabaret dinner shows in Europe.   

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. 





KJ Dahlaw is a bay area dance artist and Artistic Director of Unruly Body Tanztheater. They hold an MFA in Dance with honors from Saint Mary's College of CA where they received the Dean's Award for academic excellence in 2018.  KJ began their career in Chicago, following the completion of their BFA in Dance Performance at Northern Illinois University in 2003, dancing with ballet and modern dance companies, Mordine & Co Dance Theater, Elements Contemporary Ballet, Matter of Reaction Dance Project, Renegade Dance Theater and various independent choreographers. KJ relocated to Reno, NV in 2013 and began the Great Basin Movement Project while teaching dance at University of Nevada Reno and dancing for Rosie Trump, With or Without Dance, and Kristin Heavey of Element Dance Theater. Currently, KJ is a lead artist with SAFEhouse Arts and dances for Patel Dance Works, Sarah Bush Dance and James Graham Dance Theater. KJ teaches dance at ODC, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and Salesian College Preparatory High School. 

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. 


Capoeira, Samba

Sebastiao Felix, known in the Capoeira world as Mestre Calango, began training Capoeira music and movements at 7 years old in his native town in the state of Piaui in the Northeast of Brazil.. He received his formatura in the US under Mestre Acordeon in the late ‘90s and title of Mestre in the early 2000’s, but has been teaching since he was 18 years old. He was featured in signature productions of Mestre Acordeons' in partnership with CK Ladzekpo - Warriors at the Edge of the Rain Forest (1991) and Konyifafa- produced by East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, as well as workshops, shows, and films throughout the world. Mestre Calango has taught  in Chicago, Colorado, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Brazil and has been teaching at East Bay Center on and off since 2002.



Mara is an established freelance trombonist and educator in the Bay Area. For more than 25 years she has amazed audiences all over the world, working in Jazz, R&B, Latin and Classical genres. Mara recorded and toured internationally with Conjunto Cespedes, and with the Klezmorim. Locally, she plays with a wide variety of well-known groups including the 2013 Grammy Award Winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra, the Montclair Women’s Big Band, and The Purple Ones.  She has also played with groups like the Berkeley Symphony, the San Francisco Sinfonietta, the Mike Vax Big Band, and the Bay Area Salsa all-Stars. Mara has a private trombone studio, and also teaches at St. Theresa School and Head Royce School in Oakland. She has been a faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and for Jazz Girls Days at Berkeley High School and SFJazz Center.



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 Bay Area Theater for over twenty years. As Artistic Director of the Oakland Public Theater, Gee brought “a different kind of Black theater” to the Bay through contemporary playwrights like Jeannie Barroga, Wendy Belden, Rickerby Hinds, Thandiwe deShazor and Richard Talavera, as well as fresh takes on August Strindberg, Eugene O’Neill and Thornton Wilder. Gee has also developed and directed original pieces with the Bay Area Playwrights Foundation, CentralWorks, Berkeley’s Hillside Club, Peralta Historical House, Oakland Museum, City of Oakland, SF PlayGround, StageBridge, and Play Cafe. He has performed with local companies including the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Shotgun Players, CalShakes, SF Shakes, TheatreWorks, Thick Description and Word for Word. In recent years he has been onstage in as Michael in GOD OF CARNAGE @ the Shelton Theater in SF, EMMITT & AVA @ the Beverly Hills Playhouse-SF, appeared with Ubuntu Theater in DEATH OF A SALESMAN, and as Touchstone in AS YOU LIKE IT with Free Shakespeare in the Park. Back in the day Gee played dabbled in all things theater, such as Bay Area TheatreSports (BATS Improv), the AfroSolo Performing Arts Festival, Japanese theater at the Noh Space in SF, even the Lighthouse for the Blind. More recently it’s been sketch comedy with Shotz-SF and other shows @PianoFight, webisodes and strange international art-film projects. Norman continues to collaborate as an actor and director with SF PlayGround, and with the Stagebridge Company. Working as a Teaching Artist, Norman enjoys offering his insights into Acting, Shakespeare & Playwrighting. He has proudly taught Playmaking to incarcerated teens through Each One Reach One (eoro.org) for many years, and runs a summer theater intensive for young writers and actors through the Eugene O’Neill National Foundation. In addition to being on the faculty of the East Bay Center for Performing Arts, Gee teaches at Nueva School, and has recently joined the theater faculty of the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.


Piano, 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.


Director of Iron Triangle Urban Ballet, Dance Faculty

With a 35-year commitment to the promotion of diversity, Miya carries the legacy of dance mentors, Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Eric Hawkins, Gene Hill Sagan, Mary Day, Gloria Contreras, and Kevin Iega Jeff. From Washington, DC and El Salvador, she has trained hundreds of dancers who are members of companies, such as, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theater, Stuttgart Ballet and Taller Coreografico de La UNAM/Mexico. Founder/Producing Artistic Director of DC’s first multicultural dance company, DC Contemporary Dance Theatre; and El Salvador’s first professional dance company, El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador. Selected as a cultural ambassador by the State Department for a ten- year world tour, she has produced 950 productions as well as has been presented by the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Central American Olympics, Washington School of Ballet, Cleveland Clinic’s Art & Medicine Institution, Ministry of Education of El Salvador, and served as one of President Obama’s producers for Latino Programs. A graduate of Barnard College/Columbia University with a BA in Urban Studies, an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs/Syracuse University; an urban planner for DC Mayor’s Task Force for Arts & Economic Development; a National Endowment for the Arts, and USF Social Justice Fellow; former Director of Dance at Georgetown University, faculty at Catholic and George Washington Universities, Washington School of Ballet,  Alonzo King LINES, Marin Dance Theatre and San Domenico Prep School. In El Salvador, on faculty at La Escuela Nacional de Danza Celarie Morena, Director of Dance at the Central American University, and creator of El Salvador’s first school for Leadership and Social Justice, El Centro para Liderazgo en las Artes. Currently Artistic Director of El Teatro de Danza, and is a certified Pilates/Somatics trainer, formerly at the Claremont Hotel, currently at Purusha in Berkeley. www.teatrodedanza.org  miya.hisaka@eastbaycenter.org





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.

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Steel Pans, 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.


Voice/ General Music

Emily is proud to be working with the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, bringing music education into elementary schools in Richmond. Emily began singing as a child with the San Francisco Girls Chorus and has continued to sing professionally with many local ensembles, including the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Volti, and the Schola Cantorum at The Cathedral of Christ the Light. In addition to teaching classes for the East Bay Center, she is also a Prep Chorus Director at the San Francisco Girls Chorus and is on faculty at the Pacific Boychoir Academy, where she teaches musicianship at the day school and directs after-school choirs. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from San Francisco State University and a Masters in Music Education from Holy Names University.

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.



Andrea Shigeko Landin is a musician and educator from Los Angeles, CA. She has performed throughout the U.S. and Latin America, including playing with ensembles at Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Before moving to the Bay Area, she was the Director of New West Symphony Harmony Project, a youth development program whose mission is to enact social change through music by providing low income youth in Ventura with tuition free, high quality ensemble based music instruction. In 2015 she was granted the City of Ventura Mayor’s Arts Educator Award, as well as recognized by the California Legislature Assembly for her contribution to the empowerment of the Latino community. Andrea has also been one of fifty international musicians selected over a period of 5 years for the Sistema Fellowship at New England Conservatory. She holds a B.M. in Cello Performance and a B.A. in Anthropology from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, and an MA in Education Policy and Leadership from Stanford. In addition to teaching cello, she is also the Director of School Partnerships at East Bay Center.            

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West African Music and Dance

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.



Tanya Marie is a Boston native and recent transplant to the Bay Area after 7 years living in Paris, France.  She has worked internationally in film, television, radio, theater and is excited to be back on the American stage, as well as in the classroom with aspiring artist! Some of Tanya’s favorite credits include: Oskar (TheatreWorks, d/ Lisa Giglio), Oslo (Los Altos Stage Company, d/Gary Landis); Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (San Jose Stage Company, d/Lee Sankowich); Ballerina (animated feature, Paris, d/ Eric Summer); A Collection of Stories (Word for Word/French Tour, d/Susan Harloe); Dr. Junod (animated feature, Paris, d/ Matthew Géczy); Café Winnipesaukee (Whitebridge Farm Productions d/ Oscar-winner Ernest Thompson); L’Amour(orless…) (tv pilot, Paris); Company Member with DramaTies (Paris); and many more!  In this new era of ‘covid theater’, Tanya has recently had the privilege of filming Jane Austen’s « Persuasion » (San Jose Stage Company) and has signed on for the upcoming zoom reading of « Henry V » (African American Shakespeare Company).   In addition to acting, Tanya has been a teaching artist and public speaking coach since 2010 in both France and America. 

Eliza O'Malley


Voice, Musical Theater

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
Theater, Tap

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.

Pierr Padilla

Zapateo/ Afro Peruvian Music and Dance

Pierr is a member of the artistic genealogy of the Vasquez family who have transmitted Afro-Peruvian cultural traditions through generations beginning in the late XIX century. He began his artistic career as a dancer, becoming a member of important ensembles such as Conjunto Nacional de Folklore del Perú and Teatro del Milenio among others. He has participated in shows by renowned Peruvian artists, among them master Victoria Santa Cruz and singer Eva Ayllon. He obtained the title of "Champion of National Champions of Peru of Marinera Limeña.” He created Colectivo Palenke, a Afro-Peruvian musical group as well as led the musical group Mandinga Project and Cambalache La fiesta Afroperuana. Pierr participated as Zapateador in a recording of a song "El Surco'' from the album “A Chabuca,”  which was nominated for Record of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards (2017). Throughout Pierr’s career, he has toured America, Asia and Europe as an artist and speaker on Afro-Peruvian music. He is one of the authors of the book “Personajes Afrodescendientes del Perú y América (African descendent characters of Peru and America)."  Pierre was teacher and artistic director of the Puckllay Cultural Association and teacher and director of the Centro de Acción Cultural Afroperuano, as well as teaching at many other dance schools. He currently  leads the musical group "Huarango", directs the festival "Afro-Peruvian Fest" and has recently created the international educational platform, "Seminario de Música Afroperuana," which promotes and disseminates Afro-Peruvian cultural traditions.

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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.


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Son de la Tierra Co-director

Artemio Posadas is a master Mexican Folklorist. He received one of eight 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellowships and was named the 2016 Beth Lomax Hawes Fellow. Since 1991, he has been a senior faculty member at East Bay Center and Director of Son de la Tierra. Posadas was Artistic Director for the Center’s 2002 Encuentro del Son which explored the African influence on son. He performed with 5 other California son artists (including his apprentice and Center faculty member, Dolores Garcia) in a 1-hour program as part of The Kennedy Center's "Homegrown: The Music of America" series in 2014. He specializes in Huastecan and Jarocho music and dance; as a scholar he researches regional cultural traditions for an organization he founded, Instituto Tamunal. Dr. 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.

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Voice, Piano, Voices of Reason Co-Director

Pianist, singer, composer, producer, and musical director Dana Salzman creates funky, flavorful tunes that re-imagine jazz, funk, hip-hop, soul, Latin, and R&B music, and illuminate her sultry voice, fine-tuned piano technique and talent for composition and arrangement. Salzman began to study piano at age four with her mother, an accomplished Russian pianist, and went on to study jazz formally – eventually earning a degree from the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. Salzman has had the opportunity to work closely with many celebrated musicians and songwriters during her career, including Mike Marshall (Timex Social Club), Tony Flores (Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack), Pete Escovedo, Rappin Forte, Samuelle Prater (Club Neaveau), Heartafiya and more. She has also played at notable east and west coast U.S. venues, and overseas at Duc De Lombard in Paris, the Reduta in Prague, L’Archduc in Brussels, and the Hotel Ellington in Berlin. Now based in Oakland, CA, Salzman does all her own production, writing, and arranging and is also an in-demand piano and voice teacher. She has released four acclaimed solo albums that are available on all platforms – It’s Out of Your Hands (2007), Rising (2010), Deep Down (2014), and Unfold (2020) – and has music on rotation at several radio stations across the country.


Violin, Chamber music

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.


Music Teaching Artist (School Partnerships), Voice

Annie Smith is a Bay Area based operatic soprano and music teacher. She holds an MM in voice from San Francisco Conservatory and a BM in voice from Boston Conservatory (now The Boston Conservatory at Berklee). Her teaching style draws heavily from Orff-Schulwerk and Responsive Classroom, allowing her to utilize elemental music and culturally responsive practices in schools. She brings a passion for folk music and dance from around the world and has accompanied her students on piano and ukulele in their concerts. As a performer, she performs regularly with various chamber groups and opera companies around the Bay Area. She also regularly performs with Ensemble Mik Nawooj, a hip-hop orchestra, around the country.



Stage Combat

Richard Squeri (Stage Combat/Intimacy Coach) is an award-winning Fight and Intimacy Director and Choreographer, as well as Executive Producer and Assistant Director of Birdbath Theatre. As a Stunt and Stage Combat Instructor, he has 40 years of experience and a record of safety. His work has appeared in every media genre. He is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Marin and East Bay Center with fight directing credits for over 350 stage productions, including Romeo and Juliet, Uncle Vanya, Richard II, Othello, Hamlet, Arabian Nights, Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew, I Hate Hamlet, and King Lear. Film credits include Craig Hamann and Roger Avery’s Boogie Boy and Quentin Tarantino’s first film, My Best Friend’s Birthday. He also worked on television shows including the original Battlestar Galactica and Cagney & Lacey.


Dance Faculty, Modern Ballet

Linda Steele II is an improvisational dance artist, movement creator and storyteller, formally trained in various movement technique languages including Western Classical Dance, Jazz, Tap, Flamenco, and Modern at Marin Ballet and Marin School of the Arts before receiving her BFA from Dominican University of CA where she also studied Art History. She has been honored to have performed original works by Alonzo King, Drew Jacoby, Maurya Kerr's tinypistol, Sidra Bell, Katie Faulkner, LEVYdance and recently with Capacitor Performance SF, Mathis Reed Dance, dazaun.dance, Kendra Kimbrough Dance Ensemble, among others. Linda II has presented her movement in various festivals and art events including Ebony Magazine's renowned Ebony Fashion Fair. As a movement creator, she has created numerous dance works/offerings, studied and choreographed Dance for Film and performed internationally with Urban Jazz Dance Company, Quimera Tribe, Corina Kinnear and others. She is deeply grateful to have met and collaborated with such amazing artists and humbly continues to serve and guide youth artists through artistic enrichment. Her journey continues...

W Allen Taylor2



W. Allen Taylor began his career in theatre in 1979, and includes performances in many regional theaters around the country, as well as in NYC, with such critically acclaimed off-Broadway theaters 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 work-shopped at East Bay Center.  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 has served on the theater faculties of Laney College and the College of Marin, where he served for 16 years, and 5 years as the department chair.  He actually began his teaching career at East Bay Center in 1989, and maintained his connection to the theater faculty throughout the years. He now returns as an acting teacher, audition coach and production director.



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 Latin America. 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 multiple woodwind performance - she holds a bachelor of music degree in clarinet performance from SFSU. In addition to teaching privately, coaching in schools and leading group classes at EBCPA, Carolyn has played clarinet, bass clarinet, all saxophones, flutes and bassoon in venues all around the bay area, along with touring nationally and internationally. Carolyn is a member of long-standing projects including the Awesöme Orchestra Collective, Makeunder, miRthkon, Jean Fineburg's Jazzphoria, and the Montclair Women's Big Band.

Howard Wiley


Saxophone, 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.


Voice/ General Music

Jessica is a professional musician and educator who has been studying and performing classical music for over two decades. She has maintained an active teaching schedule since 2011, working as Master Vocal Instructor at Acalanes High School, K-2 music instructor for Music for Minors, Master Vocal Instructor for Marin School for the Arts, Musical Theater Camp Director for the Heads Up Program at Head Royce and Village Center for the Arts In-School Outreach Programs and head of their Musical Theater program. Jessica earned her Bachelor’s in Music at Mannes College of Music in New York City and finished her education at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she received her Master’s in Vocal Performance, with training in vocal pedagogy and physiology.


Son de la Tierra, co-director

Claudio Naranjos Vega has participated in “Los Vega” for 25 years to date. His main activities as a musician are mainly playing the requinto instrument or guitarra de son.  As of 2020, he is the director of the group; throughout this time, Mr. Claudio has contributed as a composer and arranger on different songs from the group's latest albums. Likewise, in the trajectory as a group, they have performed in a large number of cultural and artistic festivals in the country and abroad; in countries such as China, the United States and Canada. Has participated in different film recordings, one of them with the theme "La Bruja" for the movie "Frida", which was nominated for an Oscar in 2002, we participated as guests in the show "De Sirenas y Peteneras e Infortunados Marinos", which was nominated for the Lunas del Auditorio in 2015, in the same way in 2018 we put on a show bringing together more than 20 renowned artists in the son jarocho genre on the occasion of our 20 anniversary, which was nominated in 2019 by the Lunas del Auditorio. This same year we were invited to participate in the benefit concert for Tibet at Carnegie Hall in New York, under the direction of renowned composer Philip Glass. Our discography consists of five albums, the last two "Vientos del mar" and "En tonos muy diferentes" under the production of Leo Heiblum with the Audiflot label.


Voice and Chorus

Performer, educator, playwright, as well as SFArtsED, SOTA, LJYE, CJC and SFJAZZ HS All-Stars alumni, Jamie Zee embodies the musical life of an LGBTQ, Chinese American, social justice activist. Jamie is the creative lead & conceptualist of the original musical “Sign My Name to Freedom: The Unheard Songs of Betty Reid Soskin.” Zee has gone on to perform at notable venues such as Freight and Salvage, Yoshi’s, SFJAZZ, and Carnegie Hall.