Annie Jupiter-Jones, Executive Director – Annie has been a participant, performer, instructor and parent with Loco Bloco. She was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District and has worked with the youth and families of the Bay Area for over 20 years in both schools and community arts organizations. She holds a BA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Spanish as well as a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University. Annie has worked as both an Elementary and High School teacher in the SFUSD and as a community outreach coordinator for ODC/Dance. Additionally, Annie has taught dance for kids ages pre-school through high school at many Bay Area organizations including Aim High, BAYCAT and within Loco Bloco’s own Youth Program. She is proudly raising her 3 daughters in her native Mission District of San Francisco. Annie’s experience with education and youth development and her passion for the performing arts are what drew her to Loco Bloco and she hopes to help sustain, LB’s vital programs so that they will be available to all future generations of San Francisco Youth. Outside of Loco Bloco, Annie is working to change the game of baseball through Girls Baseball advocacy and currently serves as the Girls Baseball Commissioner for the San Francisco Youth Baseball League and the manager of the San Francisco Bay Sox Girls Baseball Program.
Pedro Gomez, Musical Director – Pedro Gomez has been studying Latin percussion and performing for over 20 years. He is the Co-Founder of Bayonics a Latin fusion band and a Teaching Artist in the World Music Program at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Growing up in San Francisco’s Mission District, Latin percussion is almost part of your DNA. Pedro was introduced to the drum at the age of 13 in a rumba circle. His connection to music has always come from a place of community and rooted in the traditions of the African Diaspora. He has had opportunities to study and perform in Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Central America; taking with him cultural perspective and influence from his studies with master musicians. Pedro’s passion for performing and teaching stems from the belief that musical expression is a form of healing and power. He is committed to passing on traditions that uplift young people and their communities.
Vanessa Sanchez, Dance Lead – Vanessa Sanchez is a dancer, educator, and choreographer who focuses on community arts education and multi-cultural dance forms. Based in San Francisco, Vanessa has studied and performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Europe. Her dance styles range from Tap and Jazz dance to Bhangra and Afro-Caribbean styles, including Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban. She is the Artistic Director of La Mezcla and continues to train on a regular basis with Master Instructors both in the Bay Area and abroad. With a background in dance education and over 20 years of dance training, Vanessa is an accomplished teaching artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her teaching skills range from preschool and elementary aged classes, to adult classes of all levels, as well as mentoring new teaching artists. Vanessa holds a B.A. in Child Development and Dance Education and currently teaches with various local non-profit arts organizations, creating and implementing curriculum that draw on technique building and Social Political Awareness. For the past 10+ years, Vanessa has been dancing and performing in the Bay Area and beyond with groups including Bomberas de la Bahia (Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba), Afoutayi (Afro-Haitian), Arenas Dance Company (Afro-Cuban), Aguas da Bahia (Afro-Brazilian), and Duniya Dance and Drum Company (Bhangra/Bollywood/West African). She founded her dance project La Mezcla in 2013 to make a space for the creation of multi-disciplinary rhythmic collaborations that explore cultural identity and social justice.
Moises Cervantes-Martinez, Program Assistant: Moises was born in Oakland and raised San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunter’s Point. Growing up, Moises was able to perform three times with Loco Bloco in San Francisco’s annual Carnaval Parade. Moises was part of Balboa High School’s graduating class of 2017 and is currently attending City College of San Francisco with the goal of transferring to UC Berkeley to study Mathematics. Moises currently holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He loves to instruct the kid’s classes and has a goal of opening his own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym
Akemi Smoot, Dance Instructor – Inspired by a street performance and the music around her, Michigan native Shaneeka “Akemi” Smoot began her dance journey as a young girl. “Akemi learned how to salsa, bachata, merengue, before she could walk,” her family jokes as to how she learned the various styles. From humble upbringings Akemi’s family couldn’t afford dance classes, so a lot of her style was self-taught, until she later began break dancing with her cousin who introduced her into the world of hip hop. That sparked something in the young Akemi to create her own dances. With over 15 years of performance and 6 years of teaching experience, she continues her study of dance in and out of the studio here in San Francisco. Akemi is an instructor with Loco Bloco, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of America and the YMCA. She is in the process of getting her BFA. Her later goals in life are to travel the world, own a dance a studio/theater. After she becomes too old to dance she will be become a chef! “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”- Martha Graham
Anttwan Stanberry, Drum Instructor – Anttwan started Loco Bloco in 2003 as part of the Teen Ensemble Crew (aka TEC). Since joining Loco Bloco, Anttwan has not only been a part of TEC, he served as an instructor as well as being a part of Loco Bloco’s Board of Directors. In 2009, Anttwan moved to San Jose where he worked for Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley and started his own drum group known as the Stipe Drumline, and when he moved back to San Francisco in 2014 he started The Mission Drumline at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco-Mission Clubhouse where he teaches youth 3rd-12th grade drumming and dancing. Anttwan currently serves as the High School Services Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco-Mission Clubhouse.
Manolo Davila, Drum Instructor – Manolo has been brought up by the Mission District. He has been an arts educator, performer and organizer for the past 12 years. Always surrounded by art, he feels blessed to have been exposed to music and art at a young age. He started to play drums and Guitar for Carnaval Contingents such as Mara Reggae, Loco Bloco and SambaAxe. He is experienced in dancing and performing Afro-Brazilian, Haitian, Cuban, West African and Congolese genres. He has participated in San Francisco’s Carnaval Parade for over 20 years. Manolo teaches Guitar at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and plays a wealth of styles and instruments. He also has extensive experience working with children for Buena Vista Childcare, Loco Bloco, Tradicion Peruana, Project Avery and the YMCA at G.W Carver Elementary School. Manolo believes in the power of music, dance and art to aid people in living harmoniously with themselves, their community and their environment.
Aimee Zawitz, Dance Instructor – Aimee Rose Zawitz is a proud San Francisco native & life long dancer. As a young child she studied tap and jazz and in high school she would get together with her friends and create choreographies of varying genres. For the last 10+ years she has studied the folkloric styles of Hatian and Cuban, West Africam, Bhangra, Silvestre technique, and Samba. Aimee has danced with Valerie Watson’s Alafia Dance Ensemble, Djenane St. Juste’s Afoutayi, Temistocles Fuentes Betancourt’s Grupo Nago Experimental, Katy Alanis Rous’ World Dance Fusion, Susana Arenas’ Dance Company. Currently she dances with Amor do Samba and Duniya Drum & Dance Co. She directs her own dance company, The Trapsettaz Dancehall Crew. Ms. Zawitz teaches Rythym & Motion and Tropi-Cali Dancehall at ODC.
Adriana Sanchez, Dance Instructor – Adriana came to the U.S. from Colombia to work as an artist and dance teacher in 1999 for the Moving Beyond Productions. She has worked with Rainbow Theater from San Francisco State University as a choreographer for the Latino theater students class. Adriana has also worked with youth programs for newcomers in organizations such as Horizons Unlimited and Good Samaritan Family resource. She taught elementary students with Bay Area Community Resources and Mission Graduates and Afro-Colombian dance to adults in various dance studios. “Colombian Soul” is a dance company she founded that was born out of her necessity to share her heritage and what she lived each day in Colombia as well as in other parts of the world. Through Colombian folkloric dance and short pieces of theater Adriana shows the vivid expressions, idiosyncrasies, and dreams of the Colombian soul. Since 2005 Colombian Soul has been representing Colombian music and folklore in numerous cultural events in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area. Adriana enjoys creating contemporary dance pieces that include social, traditional, and spiritual situations that challenge her as a choreographer and as a human being.
Polly Bates, Stilt Instructor – Polly began creating dance opportunities for herself in her small town from a very young age. Polly fell in love with Samba and Afro-Brazilian dance while traveling in Brazil, and after learning to walk on stilts she began performing with Samba Stilt Circus of Santa Cruz and Sambafunk of Oakland. She later took her dancing to higher heights, learning and eventually teaching Aerial Silks through Circus MECCA. All of this opened many doors for her and she recently spent 3 years based in Portland and touring the country with the MarchFourth band as an acrobat/stiltwalker/dancer/aerialist/artistic director. In 2015 she decided to take a break from the road and return to the Bay Area where she performs with D.A.M, Samba Conmigo, and Catalyst Arts and teaches stilt dance with Loco Bloco and at the Culture Jam youth camp in Oregon. She has traveled, studied, and performed in Cuba and Brazil and in 2016 she began participating annually in Trinidad Carnaval alongside the traditional Moko Jumbie Stilt walkers.
Miguel Gonzalez, Drum Instructor – Poet, musician, educator, entrepreneur, and visionary, Miguel Gonzalez began his musical career at age 20 when he bought his first pair of Congas, and traveled to his native Colombia to learn Afro-Latin percussion. Born in Los Angeles, California to first generation Colombian parents, he carries forward a legacy of artists and educators. His path through adolescence reflected a common story of busy parents chasing the American dream, and personal battles with American society. Finally discovering the power of education, and his talent for the artistic and academic, he turned his life around. Inspired by the music and culture of his native Colombia, he embarked upon a journey of cultural revival while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree. Today he uses his knowledge of arts and culture to empower youth that are facing the troubles he once faced.
Marivel Mendoza, Bloquitos Instructor – bio coming soon
Martín Herrera-Pazmiño, Intern Drum Instructor – bio & photo coming