Affiliated Artists and Educators

 
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Armando Castellano

Armando and his wind quintet, Quinteto Latino, are dedicated to expanding the cultural boundaries of classical music, and to make that music available, relevant, and inspiring to entirely new audiences. Armando is a French horn player and educator, and has taught throughout the Bay Area in both English and Spanish and is currently an adjunct faculty member at San José City College.

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Melanie DeMore

Melanie has a remarkable voice, weaving all the fibers of African American folk with soulful ballads, spirituals and original music. Melanie facilitates vocal workshops for professional choirs, community groups, and people who just need to raise their voices. Her Sound Awareness program has been presented in prisons, schools and youth organizations through-out the US and New Zealand. Melanie was a California-Artist-in Residence with the Oakland Youth Chorus as a conductor, musical director/conductor for the Bay Area Woman's Chorus and acapella singing teacher at St. Paul's School in Oakland.

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Julie Douglas

Julie celebrates the empowering, connecting, expressive, collaborative, playful power of theater and the arts. Making theater can change the world and how we experience what is possible. Trained at the Dell’ Arte school, she is an actor, theater maker and teacher. She gets to be silly on a regular basis as a hospital clown with The Medical Clown Project. She has taught students of all ages in theater companies, schools, summer camps and community groups around the Bay.

 
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Elaine Fong

Elaine believes all human beings are born in rhythm. Rhythm activities allow you to experience how effortless it can be to “fall” into rhythm, and thus into the rhythm of your life, and to help reconnect to our innate knowledge of the healing power of primal rhythmic movements and sounds. Elaine is the founder and former Artistic Director of Odaiko New England, the first professional taiko group in Massachusetts. She has taught taiko, Taketina and rhythm workshops and classes throughout New England, New York and California.

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Moeketsi Gibe

Moeketsi, percussionist and musician, grew up in post-apartheid South Africa. He obtained his Performers Diploma in African Music and Dance with a focus on drumming at the University of Cape Town. Since moving to the U.S., Moeketsi has worked as teaching artist for organizations such as Destiny Arts Center, Attitudinal Healing Connection and Get Empowered. He performs with with Zulu Spears Band of South Africa and Chinyakare Ensemble Music and Dance of Zimbabwe. Moeketsi also toured with Zuma Zuma, an African Acrobatic music and dance show. Moeketsi’s philosophy is based on an African proverb "Motho ke motho ka batho" meaning "a person is a person because of people.”

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Dolores R. Gray

Dolores holds an MFA in photography and printmaking from the University of Michigan and is a multimedia studio artist with numerous solo and joint exhibitions. She has developed and taught educational art programs in K-12 schools across the Bay Area, and also teaches art fundamentals as basis for storytelling, photography, digital photography and Adobe Photoshop to children and adults. Dolores was a recipient of a multi-year grant “Artist in Schools Residency” from the California Arts Council. She applies arts education to diverse programs such as “Language & Visual Arts Reading Improvement” and “Art + Math in the Classroom.”

 
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Thamsanqa Hlatywayo

Thamsanqa learned traditional dance and singing growing up in South Africa. A performer, choreographer, drummer, and a cappella singer, he enjoys sharing aspects of South Africa with people of other national and ethnic backgrounds. Thamsanqa was co-founder, Artistic Director and performer with Uzulu Dance Theater of South Africa. He performed with the Broadway show Sarafina. He founded Jikelele Dance Theater, wrote and directed a stage play Shanty Town which Jikelele Dance Theater performed at San Francisco ethnic Dance Festival.

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Violet Juno

Violet discovered that art has the power to bring joy and wonder but also be a catalyst for deep thinking and transformation. She seeks to create an engagement with artworks that is not just what is happening on stage or on site but also what audience members conjure in their minds of the various strands to take with them when they leave. Violet is a passionate teaching artist who has taught performance and a wide range of artistic media to schools and community groups. She serves as Creative Community Engagement Coordinator of the Alameda County Arts Commission and believes everyone should have access to the arts.

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Stephen Kent

Stephen is a multi-instrumentalist and composer whose musical career has taken him across five continents and includes the UK, Spain, East Africa, Australia and the US. As a performer on the Australian Aboriginal Didgeridoo he has pioneered its use in contemporary music across the globe in collaboration with numerous musicians. He has composed musical scores for theatre, circus and dance companies, which has established him in the world music scene, exploring a broad range of playing styles and musical genres.

 
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Janet Koike

Janet seeks to bring people of all ages together for high quality arts experiences in music, dance, theater, exhibits and arts education. In her role as artistic director of Rhythmix Cultural Works, she promotes cultural awareness, encourages participation in the arts, support artists in the presentation of their work and is a resource for community gatherings and events. Janet has partnered with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, the Oakland Museum and San Jose Taiko, and has brought dance, movement and taiko drumming to hundreds of Bay Area schools.

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Mandjou Koné

Mandjou was born into a well-known griot family in Mali and studied traditional West African singing, dancing and playing of instruments like the Djembe, Bala, Dundun, Kora and Tama. She also danced and performed with the National Ballet of Burkina Faso. She is a dance educator and has been teaching and performing over the past twenty years throughout the US, most recently as a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz.

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Erik Lee

Erik was born and raised in Oakland, California. He received his formal dance training in modern dance and BA degree in Dance Performance Studies from University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 2010. Since 2009, Erik has danced with Covenant Worship Center’s Worship In Arts Ministry (WAM). He has served as Artistic Director for WAM since 2014. In 2011, he joined Dimensions Dance Theater and continues to work as a company member. Erik recently graduated from Mills College with a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Dance, and has served two years as a group leader in Berkeley-Oakland AileyCamp.

 
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Cheryl Mochalski

Cheryl finds great joy in creating taiko music with Tatsumaki Taiko (Richmond, CA) and in sharing that music with the greater Bay Area community. Cheryl has studied the art of playing the Shinobue (with Marco Leinhard) and the Shakuhachi (with Riley Lee). She plays and arranges the traditional song melodies of the Shinobue to the taiko songs of Tatsumaki Taiko. Since moving to the Bay Area, Cheryl has taught high school Spanish in public schools in San Francisco, South San Francisco, and in Marin County. She sees the study and performance of taiko as an expression of her passion for learning about the languages, music, traditions and cultures of the world.

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Carole Ono

Growing up in Berkeley, Carole was drawn to the rhythms of taiko she heard at Community events and festivals. She was always captivated by the power of the sound as it reverberated through her body. Carole has taught 5th and 6th graders in the Berkeley Public Schools for many years, working alongside artists participating in the “Artists in Residence” program, including the Latin Percussion Band and the African Dance Ensemble. In 2008, Carole enrolled in a taiko class at Tatsumaki Taiko with Phil Pickering and has never looked back. “Playing taiko," she says, "is as rewarding as teaching a great lesson. You find yourself one with the other players, then look out at the audience and see by their faces that they are truly understanding what you are trying to communicate.“

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Paula Parks

Paula is a bilingual Spanish/English educator with a passion for community building. She waited until just after she finished a graduate degree in Education to run away with the circus! Her journey as an acrobat and coach started in Argentina, then led to her living and teaching in 3 countries and traveling to 26 more. As co-founder of Circus of Smiles, she oversees school-based enrichment programming and supports developing educators. Her strong belief is that any skill can be taught with a social-emotional focus and a little imagination.

 
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Tyler Parks

Tyler loves to laugh and is thrilled to be spreading joy through the performing arts. He holds a Masters in Education from UC Santa Cruz and a rubber chicken from the Clown Conservatory in San Francisco. Tyler co-founded the internationally acclaimed physical comedy troop Pi, and has taught for some of the premier circus institutions in the US, including: The Prescott Circus, Kinetic Arts Center and Circus Smirkus. Through Circus of Smiles, Mr. Mustache (as he is known on stage) has performed family-friendly circus shows for thousands of families in the US and as well as on tour through Asia, Central America, and South America.

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Phil Pickering

Phil started playing drums at age 12. After high school, he spent 5 years performing full time in local bands around Northeast Pennsylvania. After moving to San Francisco to pursue a degree in computer science, he played in several Bay Area bands. Inspired by a performance by the taiko group Ondekoza and a visit to Sado Island (Kodo’s home) Phil attended taiko classes at San Francisco Taiko Dojo over the next 5 years. In 2000, he founded Tatsumaki Taiko. Initially a children’s taiko group, Tatsumaki Taiko began offering adult classes and now performs in festivals, events and school assemblies all over the Bay Area. Phil has hosted many taiko workshops with members of Kodo and Ondekoza, as well as other artists from Japan.

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Tiffany Rabb

Tiffany learned social dance in a family setting when she was a child and was natural at sight reading and repeating what she saw. She has always been involved in different community centers and in community dance. In 2007, she was a part of Starchild Dance Company which studied Lindy Hop and the Harlem Renaissance. In 2012, she auditioned for Jikelele Dance Theater Company and willed her way into the company. She moved up from Dance Captain to Assistant Dance Director. Tiffany is a lover of many dance styles and is continuing her love for studying at SFSU.

 
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Jeff Raz

Jeff explores the intersection of circus, theater and music from many different angles - as a clown, an actor, a teacher, a director and a playwright. Jeff founded The Clown Conservatory in San Francisco, the only comprehensive professional clown training program in the United States, and he directed the program until 2010. Jeff is now the Bay Area Casting Partner for Cirque du Soleil, the Artistic Director of the Medical Clown Project and a director with the global consulting firm Stand & Deliver.

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Galen Rogers

Galen is a taiko and dance professional based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied taiko at the San Francisco Taiko Dojo from age 8 to 18 under Grand Master Seichi Tanaka, the person who brought modern taiko to America in the 1960s. Galen co-founded Oberlin College Taiko and is now the director of Jiten Daiko, a taiko ensemble based at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, which focuses on pioneering new expressive territory for taiko arts. He also teaches taiko, gamelan, and ethnomusicology to high school students at San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and Marin Academy. He studies Balinese dance and gamelan with Gamelan Sekar Jaya, a Berkeley-based Balinese performing arts ensemble, and he practices capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art, and gaga, Ohad Naharin's dynamic movement language.

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Stephen Texeira

Stephen believes there is a memory between one moment and the next; a memory that no amount of posing or smiling for the camera will ever reveal. It is in those moments that we are most real, most vulnerable, most beautiful, most ourselves. He take pictures. He pays attention. Stephen has been a journalist, marketing consultant, a non-profit communications manager, and has taught schoolchildren all over the Bay Area how to focus ideas and images in photographs that move others to action.

 
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Heidi Varian

Heidi is a master taiko drumming artist and has taught and influenced hundreds of taiko players, including helping to establish diverse groups across the United States. She works taiko into everything she does – live events, recordings, writing, rock concerts, film, classroom teaching, and was the first woman and non-Japanese person to perform the norito (sacred prayer) at the Suwa Grand Shrine in Nagano, Japan.

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Patricia West

Patricia believes that the power of dance fosters community, compassion and connection, and she strives to make dance and education accessible for all people. Patricia is a dance teacher at Bentley School in Oakland, a professional dancer, and dance theater company education coordinator. She joined the Joe Goode Performance Group in 2006 as a collaborating member and has danced and taught workshops at schools, colleges and performance venues. Patricia is a Cal graduate and feels honored to work so closely with Cal Performances and the larger community that it serves. She has also recently served as Managing Director of Berkeley-Oakland AileyCamp.

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Jesse Wiener

Jesse is a teaching and performing artist. Past dance projects include works with Nina Haft, Kyoungil Ong, Holly Handman-Lopez, Ann Cooper Albright, and Lili Weckler. Jesse currently delves into dance creation and performance with Nina Haft and Company and Molly Rose-Williams and Company, and is a co-artistic director and performing member of Jiten Daiko, a Bay Area based taiko ensemble. Her passion for child development and the performing arts informs the ways she cultivates encouraging and explorative environments for children. When Jesse is not dancing or drumming she teaches creative movement and artistic literacy to preschool and elementary age children and works with pregnant families as a labor doula where she continues to learn about the power of bodies, movement, and play.