Artists

Meet the 2014 Artists

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Nadhi Thekkek – San Francisco, CA – Co-Artistic Director of Nava Dance Theatre

SEP 11 – 14, THU – SAT at 8PM, SUN at 7PM

Nava Dance Theatre is a Bay Area based, Bharatanatyam dance company that aims to develop classically influenced work based on contemporary themes. Artistic Directors/choreographers, Nadhi Thekkek and Sophia Valath, and choreographer Arun Mathai will partner with renowned composer G.S. Rajan to present The Cloud Messenger, a Bharatanatyam adaptation of the poem, Meghadhootham, by 5th century Indian poet, Kalidasa. In this piece, a yaksha (or demi-God) tries to convince a young raincloud to relay his message of love to his separated beloved. This magical and unconventional romance shows why love’s journey, though risky, is something beautiful.

Nadhi, Sophia, and Arun received their Bharatanatyam training from Smt. Sundara Swaminathan, Artistic Director of Kala Vandana Dance Company. For their full bio’s please visit navadance.org. Rajan received his music training with various stalwarts while studying at Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts and has been creating critically-acclaimed music compositions globally for nearly two decades.

 

Muisi-kongo Malonga – Oakland, CA Solo Performance

NOV 7 – 16, FRI – SAT at 8PM, SUN at 7PM

Muisi-kongo Malonga is a talented dancer, choreographer and instructor deeply rooted in the traditions of Central Africa.  As one of the next generation’s foremost keepers of Congolese cultural arts forms, she has passionately sought to preserve Congolese culture through her leadership of Fua Dia Congo, a 35-year old performing arts organization. Her writing, singing, original compositions and choreography have all converged in the telling of the tale of  Kimpa Vita, a 17th century Kongolese prophet and martyr. “Kimpa Vita!”, Malonga’s first solo work, is described as a chore-opera, where music and movement merge to convey the powerful story of a woman often described as the Kongolese Joan of Arc.

 

 

 

Meet the 2013 Artists

Read Artist Blogs >>

Byb Chanel Bibene – San Francisco, CA Artistic Director of Kiandanda Dance Theater

Weekend 1; AUG 15 – 18, THU – SUN at 8PM

Born and raised in the Republic of Congo, Byb Chanel Bibene is a choreographer and artistic director of Kiandanda Dance Theater. His own technical and aesthetic sensibility is rooted in the culture and traditional dances of his country.  As a survivor of the civil wars that tore apart the Congo in the 1990’s, Bibene is creating a theater piece titled, Taboo and Heroes, that explores the subject of victims of war and the lack of freedom of expression due to irresponsible dictatorial powers and the neo-colonial influences of western powers. The point of this project, combining dance, theater, music and video, is intended to lead people to pay more attention to what is going on in the world because a collective effort can help find solutions and lead to a better life on earth, ecologically, socially, politically and humanly.

 

Jewlia Eisenberg – San Francisco, CA Artistic Director of Charming Hostess

Weekend 2; AUG 22 – 25, THU – SUN at 8PM

Charming Hostess was founded by Jewlia Eisenberg to make work at the intersection of voice, text and diaspora consciousness.  Their work has been curated into the Contemporary Jewish Museum and YBCA in San Francisco, and the Museum of Peace in Uzbekistan.  Recent work includes The Bowls Project, on Babylonian women’s amulets, and Trilectic, on Walter Benjamin, both released on Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture Series.

Charming Hostess is now workshopping The Ginzburg Geography – an exploration of the lives of Italian anti-fascist intellectuals Natalia and Leone Ginzburg through sound and cartography. The texts are drawn from the Ginzburgs’ writings, the music draws from Italian regional traditions, Italian Jewish liturgy, and anti-fascist song, from work chants to resistance anthems.

 

 

Muisi-kongo Malonga – Oakland, CA Solo Performance

Weekend 2; AUG 22 – 25, THU – SUN at 8PM

Muisi-kongo Malonga is a talented dancer, choreographer and instructor deeply rooted in the traditions of Central Africa.  As one of the next generation’s foremost keepers of Congolese cultural arts forms, she has passionately sought to preserve Congolese culture through her leadership of Fua Dia Congo, a 35-year old performing arts organization. Her writing, singing, original compositions and choreography have all converged in the telling of the tale of  Kimpa Vita, a 17th century Kongolese prophet and martyr. “Kimpa Vita!”, Malonga’s first solo work, is described as a chore-opera, where music and movement merge to convey the powerful story of a woman often described as the Kongolese Joan of Arc.

 

 

 


Nadhi Thekkek – Alamo, CA Principal Dancer of Nava Dance Theatre

Weekend 2; AUG 22 – 25, THU – SUN at 8PM

Nava Dance Theatre is a Bay Area based, Bharatanatyam dance company that aims to develop classically influenced work based on contemporary themes. Company dancers Nadhi, Sophia, and Arun will partner with renowned composer G.S. Rajan to present The Cloud Messenger, a Bharatanatyam adaptation of the poem, Meghadhooth, by 5th century Indian poet, Kalidasa. In this piece, a yaksha (or demi-God) tries to convince a young raincloud to relay his message of love to his separated beloved. This magical and unconventional romance shows why love’s journey, though risky, is something beautiful.

Nadhi, Sophia, and Arun received their Bharatanatyam training from Smt. Sundara Swaminathan, Artistic Director of Kala Vandana Dance Company. Rajan received is music training with various stalwarts while studying at Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts and has been creating critically-acclaimed music compositions globally for nearly two decades.

 

Joti Singh – San Francisco, CA Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company

Weekend 1; AUG 15 – 18, THU – SUN at 8PM

Joti Singh, Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company, is a choreographer of Bhangra from India and dance from Guinea, West Africa. Her project is a dance performance, interweaving choreography with text and music, telling the story of the Gadar party, founded in 1913 in San Francisco by Punjabi activists to fight for Indian independence from the British. Singh’s great-grandfather was the president of this party from 1914-1920. The performance layers Singh’s experiences as the daughter of immigrants, with the life of her great-grandfather and the fight for independence. The project will draw on Bhangra, as well West African dance technique and incorporate innovative non-traditional pieces.

 

 

 

 

Jia Wu – Castro Valley, CA Artistic Director of Jia Wu Dance Theater

Weekend 1; AUG 15 – 18, THU – SUN at 8PM

Drawing on deeply personal experiences, Mama/Medea explores Wu’s hybrid identities through the classical Greek figure of Medea: Eastern, Woman, Mother, Sorceress, Exotic Other. Wu’s celebrated performance aesthetic draws on traditional Chinese theater and contemporary dance, combining raw emotion, music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics, and her work has been featured in the Pina Bausch International Tanzfest and other fourteen countries .  For Wu, a Chinese woman living in the United States, “diaspora” is a lived term, evoking evolutions of forms (dance, Chinese Opera) and self.  Mama/Medea powerfully examines the constant translations of self, one’s language and even authenticity, all of which must be negotiated in the constant present.

 

 

 

Meet the 2010 Artists

Yannis Adoniou/KUNST STOFF, Catherine Clambaneva, and Leonidas Kassapides
San Francisco, CA

Yannis Adoniou, the artistic director of KUNST-STOFF, has become known for his unusual and highly visual theatrical dance works, which merge different art forms, often creating unexpected collisions and provocative beauty. His next artistic project will explore the origins and evolution of Rembetiko in a collaboration with singer Catherine Clambaneva, and shadow theater artist Leonidas Kassapides. Rembetiko music — similar to that of the tango, flamenco, the blues, and Fado — was born out of sorrow, pain, desire, and yearnings, specifically those of Turkish Greek refugees seeking to adjust to a new life in a new country, far from home.

Prum Ok 2Prumsodun Ok
Long Beach, CA
Prumsodun Ok is an artist and cultural activist based in Long Beach, California where he teaches filmmaking to inner-city youth with the YMCA Youth Institute, is a videographer for the Cambodian Community History and Archiving Project, and teaches classical Cambodian dance at the Khmer Arts Academy, as well as serving as its curator and media designer. Most recently Ok was awarded 2011 Artist Fellowship from the Association for Performing Arts Presenters in it’s the inaugural year of their fellows program.  Ok draws upon beliefs of reincarnation and the ritualistic, meditative language of Cambodian classical dance to illustrate a relationship transcendent of form and image, gender and sexuality, to say clearly: “Let love live.”

 

 

 

Devendra Sharma and Palak JoshiDevendra Sharma
Fresno, CA
Devendra Sharma is a performer, writer, and director of Nautanki, Raaslila, Bhagat, and Rasiya, the traditional musical theatre genres of northern India. He was trained in the famous Swami-Khera Gharana by renowned folk guru Pundit Ram Dayal Sharma. He has given more than five hundred performances to date and directed many films illustrating Indian folk traditions. At present, he is an Assistant Professor of Communication at California State University, Fresno. Sharma’s artistic mission is to use the indigenous performing arts to bring critical attention to contemporary global issues and empower marginalized people. His current Nautanki piece examines the phenomenon of Indian men who come to America from India to study or work and have two romantic partners, one in India and another in America.

 

Sri SusilowatiSri Susilowati
Pasadena, CA
Sri Susilowati is a choreographer originally from Java, Indonesia. Her work is grounded in Indonesian art forms as well as training in post-modern dance composition. She creates contemporary works on the subjects of community, gender, and ethnicity through dance and multi-media. Eating Dance (working title) employs contemporary dance and spoken word, along with traditional classical Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese movement vocabularies to tell stories of food ritual for dancers. Using text, video projection, and dance movements, the piece will explore the contrast of how dancers in the United States and Indonesia value food.

 

 

 

 

Adia Whitaker as didi3Adia Tamar Whitaker
San Francisco, CA
Adia Tamar Whitaker is one of the youngest professional choreographers and master teachers of Afro-Haitian folkloric dance in the United States. A former member of Blanche Brown’s Group Petit La Croix and Colette Eloi’s Reconnect, she has studied and performed Afro-Haitian dance in the U.S. and abroad for 13 years. Her artistic work focuses on neo-folklore of the African Diaspora, linking contemporary modern dance, original vernacular movement, and traditional dance theater. Recently Whitaker completed the first part of a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study grant in Ghana. Her new project combines dance, media and music inspired by “ampey,” a rhythmic game played by little girls in Ghana.

 

 

 

Meet the 2009 Artists

Weekend 1:

Danica SenaDanica Sena Gakovich
San Francisco, CA
Danica Sena Gakovich is an experienced choreographer, performer, musician and teacher who has performed and researched folkloric music and dance traditions from Spain for over 20 years. Her works are exploratory and collaborative while maintaining deep musical/rhythmic awareness. Danica will be creating a work that explores the shared ancestry between traditional Serbian and Flamenco music. Koreni, which means “roots” in Serbian is an original work based on profound investigation of the shared ancestry between traditional Serbian and Flamenco music. San Francisco-based flamenco choreographer/performer Sena re-connects with her Serbian heritage together with an exceptional cast of world-reknown musicians Miroslav Tadic (guitar),, Alfredo Caceres (guitar) and Juan Carlos Moreno (singer).
Charlotte MoragaCharlotte Moraga
San Francisco, CA
Charlotte Moraga, a senior disciple of Pandit Chitresh Das, performs traditional Kathak dance around the world as principal dancer of Chitresh Das Dance Company (CDDC), and as a solo artist. Moraga is currently director of the Chhandam Youth Dance Company. She is a recipient of the first Shenson Performing Arts Fellowship, recognizing artistic merit and potential for future excellence and impact on the field of Kathak. With her newest work, Moraga will explore the triangle of audience, dancer and musicians by putting it into a triptych based on the Hindu paradigm of existence: creation, preservation and destruction. Destruction is often seen as a creative act in itself as it makes way for rejuvenation. The work will feature collaborative and virtuosic live music.
GS El Indio (Sergio Mora) y La Muerte (Agustin Chavez)Gema Sandoval, Artistic Director of Danza Floricanto/USA
Pasadena, CA
Gema Sandoval is the founder and artistic director of Danza Floricanto/USA. Gema is devoted to illuminating her Mexican-American heritage through dance. She and her company have recreated the movement, costume and song of 17 different regions of Mexico, and over half a dozen works on the Chicano experience which celebrate cultural identity for the Mexican American community and the immigrant experience for the rest of America. Sandoval will develop Reflections/Reflecciones, a dance work based on Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me Ultima, a piece that blends the vocabulary of traditional Mexican and Indigenous folk dance, African influenced and European based contemporary expressions.
Adia Whitaker as didi3Adia Tamar Whitaker
San Francisco, CA
Adia Tamar Whitaker is one of the youngest professional choreographers and master teachers of Afro-Haitian folkloric dance in the United States. A former member of Blanche Brown’s Group Petit La Croix and Colette Eloi’s Reconnect, she has studied and performed Afro-Haitian dance in the U.S. and abroad for 13 years. Her artistic work focuses on neo-folklore of the African Diaspora, linking contemporary modern dance, original vernacular movement, and traditional dance theater. Recently Whitaker completed the first part of a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study grant in Ghana. Her new project combines dance, media and music inspired by “ampey,” a rhythmic game played by little girls in Ghana.

Weekend 2:

Sri SusilowatiSri Susilowati
Pasadena, CA
Sri Susilowati is a choreographer originally from Java, Indonesia. Her work is grounded in Indonesian art forms as well as training in post-modern dance composition. She creates contemporary works on the subjects of community, gender, and ethnicity through dance and multi-media. Eating Dance (working title) employs contemporary dance and spoken word, along with traditional classical Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese movement vocabularies to tell stories of food ritual for dancers. Using text, video projection, and dance movements, the piece will explore the contrast of how dancers in the United States and Indonesia value food.
Opal AdisaOpal Palmer Adisa
Oakland, CA
Opal Palmer Adisa refers to herself as Ja-American and is deeply rooted in Jamaican and American cultures. As a writer of all genres, a college professor, photographer and performer, Adisa is concerned about African cultural preservation in the Diaspora, and particularly in the Caribbean region. Her works examine and explore healing from varied perspectives. The work that she will present, The Myalist, explores healing the self and the world through language, song and dance. Adisa sees the myalist as the contemporary griot –historian and storyteller– and it is through her stories, which are her medicine, that she is able to heal herself and those she encounters.
Colette Eloi, Artistic Director of El Wah Movement
Oakland, CA
Colette Eloi is an artist and student of the diverse dance styles of the African Diaspora along with Ballet and Modern. Her emphasis is on Haiti, the native land of her parents. As a dancer/choreographer Eloi has performed extensively, both nationally and internationally. She is artistic director of El Wah Movement, which presents Haitian dance, along with African Diaspora Dance. Her new work will use the folkloric dances of Haiti to address some of the country’s issues in association with the western world. Eloi will offer social commentary about the politics of poverty through both traditional and contemporized Hatian dance, as well as sound and projected visuals.
Cesar Garfiaz and the co.Ana Maria Alvarez, Artistic Director of CONTRA-TIEMPO
Los Angeles, CA
Ana Maria Alvarez, a Cuban American choreographer engages, creates opportunities for people to feel, relate and communicate with each other and with the subject material that she addresses in her work: immigration, race, gender and power. Her work challenges notions of how Salsa has been utilized to depoliticize Latinos, females and communities of color – and how it can be reclaimed and used as a tool to say something meaningful – and be heard! CONTRA-TIEMPO will be debuting the opening suite of the new urban-Latin dance theater work Pa’ comen(zar). Food is often used as a metaphor for dance, music, body parts, relationships, joy, ecstasy, hurt, and anger. CONTRA-TIEMPO will explore the interchange and conversation between dance and food, the fundamental voids in our cultural and societal relationship with our own history and our connection to ourselves and each other.

Weekend 3:

Wang FeiWang Fei, Founder and Director of the North American Guqin Association
Union City, CA
Wang Fei is an internationally known guqin performer, educator, and scholar. She is considered one of the most experienced guqin artists of her generation. She is the founder and director of the North American Guqin Association and a council member of the China Guqin committee. Wang has experience internationally giving concert-level performances and presentations on the guqin and related arts to both Chinese and Western audiences. She has won several awards in the field of Chinese music and lectured at many universities. Wang and her collaborators will create a multidisciplinary project titled The Living Art of the Guqin: Beyond a Museum Piece. This project will feature traditional and contemporary instruments, digital projections and imagery and performance. The goal is to take the audience on a journey that will deliver this ancient art form into the new digital era of 21st century China.
Devendra Sharma and Palak JoshiDevendra Sharma
Fresno, CA
Devendra Sharma is a performer, writer, and director of Nautanki, Raaslila, Bhagat, and Rasiya, the traditional musical theatre genres of northern India. He was trained in the famous Swami-Khera Gharana by renowned folk guru Pundit Ram Dayal Sharma. He has given more than five hundred performances to date and directed many films illustrating Indian folk traditions. At present, he is an Assistant Professor of Communication at California State University, Fresno. Sharma’s artistic mission is to use the indigenous performing arts to bring critical attention to contemporary global issues and empower marginalized people. His current Nautanki piece examines the phenomenon of Indian men who come to America from India to study or work and have two romantic partners, one in India and another in America.
YA-Marina Fukushima Suzanne Lappas Spencer Dickhaus 2Yannis Adoniou/KUNST STOFF, Catherine Clambaneva, and Leonidas Kassapides
San Francisco, CA
Yannis Adoniou, the artistic director of KUNST-STOFF, has become known for his unusual and highly visual theatrical dance works, which merge different art forms, often creating unexpected collisions and provocative beauty. His next artistic project will explore the origins and evolution of Rembetiko in a collaboration with singer Catherine Clambaneva, and shadow theater artist Leonidas Kassapides. Rembetiko music — similar to that of the tango, flamenco, the blues, and Fado — was born out of sorrow, pain, desire, and yearnings, specifically those of Turkish Greek refugees seeking to adjust to a new life in a new country, far from home.
Dulce-Capadocia Group Picture dancers in tribal costume Ma'i LostDulce Capadocia, Artistic Director of Silayan Philippine-American Dance Company
Los Angeles, CA
Dulce Capadocia is well-known as an award-winning Artistic Director and storyteller uniquely trained in both contemporary dance and Philippine folk traditions. Her choreography is a theatrical interpretation of her heritage as a Filipina growing up in Los Angeles’ inner city. Capadocia and her critically-acclaimed multi-ethnic Silayan Dance Company will premiere an exciting original dance drama. Taking inspiration from urban sources and her experience being raised in a home where dance and culture flourished, Capadocia’s newest creation examines the cultural phenomenon of the “Hip Hop Tinikling” and promises to be a dramatic, thought-provoking dance theatre expression of the Filipino-American experience.
Prum Ok 2Prumsodun Ok
Long Beach, CA
Prumsodun Ok is an artist and cultural activist based in Long Beach, California where he teaches filmmaking to inner-city youth with the YMCA Youth Institute, is a videographer for the Cambodian Community History and Archiving Project, and teaches classical Cambodian dance at the Khmer Arts Academy, as well as serving as its curator and media designer. Ok draws upon beliefs of reincarnation and the ritualistic, meditative language of Cambodian classical dance to illustrate a relationship transcendent of form and image, gender and sexuality, to say clearly: “Let love live.”
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