Annie Jupiter-Jones has been a participant, performer, staff, 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 has traveled extensively throughout Latin America and 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.
Pedro began his musical exploration at the age of 12 in a community rec center – popping his head in on the Afro-Cuban percussion class then ultimately realizing he could not resist coming back. “My need to bang on pots and pans as a child went deeper than I thought.” It wasn’t long before he became a regular participant in Loco Bloco. He was given the opportunity to perform, travel internationally, and study with master musicians, and he realized this was his calling. Pedro performed in a youth salsa band at the age of 18 and before long he and various bandmates decided they were ready for some self-expression. With influences such as hip hop, old school r&b and traditional Latin music, he knew only made sense to take the music in that direction. This meant taking the musicianship to another level, so Pedro decided he would take the dive into four limb independence and learn how to play the drum kit. After many years and phases of his current band Bayonics (which he co-founded) Pedro still feels committed to this art form and committed to learning. And as the musical director of Loco Bloco, he is committed to teaching young people and uplifting our communities.
Alma is an aspiring film maker and community worker born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco. Her love of music and the arts sparked when she joined Loco Bloco at the tender age of 11 in her debut acting appearance. She graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American Latino Studies. During her undergrad she practiced community engagement art through her directing roles in Rainbow Theater and Engaging Education. Since then she has worked with youth in San Francisco and San Rafael using art as a form of activism following teachings from Paulo Freire and Chicano Teatro. Alma has pursued her work as an artist in various films as a PA, Assistant Director and Video Editor through out the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Part of her development includes participating in the NALAC Leadership Institute (2014), QWOCMAP Workshop (2016) and BAVC Bridges Fellowship (2016). Currently she is working for Loco Bloco as the Performance & Events Coordinator where she is able to give back to her community and simultaneously working on a media arts certificate to pursue her dream of becoming a professional Video Editor.
Abi Hernandez was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco. From the tender age of 11, she was immersed in youth organizations where she quickly fell in love with the arts. Abi has 6 years of experience working with youth in the Bay Area as well as the east coast where she attended Mount Holyoke College, earning her B.A in Latino/a Studies. She is committed to youth development and believes in the collaboration and intersection of various social service sectors and people in order to create spaces and experiences that allow for the perpetual growth of community. She continues to work on her art and pursing her passions in music, dance, and writing.
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 started Loco Bloco in 2003 as part of the Teen Ensemble Crew (aka TEC). Since joining Loco Bloco, Anttwan has not only been apart of TEC, he served as an instructor as well as being apart 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 – a group of nine 3rd-6th graders that performed for various shows throughout San Jose. Anttwan currently serves as lead staff at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.
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.
Alpha Oumar “Bongo” Sidibe is a traditional drummer from Conakry, Guinea in West Africa. He is Musical Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. In 2013, Bongo directed “The Madness of the Elephant,” a performance about Sekou Toure, the first president of Guinea, which premiered at the JCC as part of their “Arts and Ideas” series. He was awarded a Creative Work Fund grant for this piece and an Artist in Community Partnership grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. Bongo also directed “Lanyee,” a West African dance, music and theater performance about issues facing African immigrants in the U.S. and the ability of arts to bring diverse populations together.”Lanyee” premiered in 2011 at Dance Mission Theater, and enjoyed successful three night run. Bongo studied with Master Drummer Mamady Keita at his school, Tam Tam Mandigue, Guinea, participated in his workshops in Conakry and Balandougou,Mamady’s village, and played on one of his CDs. Bongo performed with Ballet Jah Karlo in Dakar, Senegal, and recorded the CD “N’dguel Fall” and toured with Orchestre Baye Fall. Before leaving Guinea, he was co-director of Balandougou Kan, a group of traditional percussionists and dancers. Since arriving in the U.S., Bongo has performed with Rhythm Village, Joan Baez, Mickey Hart, the Grateful Dead, and Black Nature from the Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars. He teaches drumming throughout the country, and works with the SF Ballet in their youth program. Bongo is also the founder and lead singer of the international reggae group Wontanara.
Vanessa Sanchez is a very passionate dancer, performer, and educator based in San Francisco, California. With classical training in Ballet, tap, and jazz, she began dancing competitively at age 5 throughout California and the United States. While pursuing her love for education and dance at the university level, she discovered dance of the African Diaspora, immediately adding the Katherine Dunham Technique, Afro-Haitian, and Afro-Brazilian to her list of dance styles. Her love for both travel and dance led her to spend time in Bahia, Brazil, where she studied Afro-Brazilian Dance, and two years in Mexico, where she studied traditional Son Jarocho from Veracruz and Afro-Cuban Folklore. In addition to studying different dance styles, Vanessa has a strong passion for performing. Performances have included the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Bomplenazo (a Bomba y Plena festival in New York), Festival de Las Brujas (Catemaco, Mexico), and countless more around the Bay Area. Combining her training and love for rhythm, Vanessa is currently working on a project, ‘Una Fusion de Percusiones,’ that fuses Tap dancing and Afro-Latin rhythms and movement.
With a B.A. in Child Development, focusing on Early Childhood Education, Vanessa combines her years of experience as a Special Education and Regular Education Preschool teacher to teach engaging, FUN, and developmentally appropriate dance classes throughout San Francisco for children of all backgrounds and abilities. She currently performs with Aguas Dance Company, Arenas Dance Company, Las Bomberas de la Bahia, and Duniya Dance and Drum Company. She is very excited to work with Loco Bloco and Bloquitos!
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 Rythm & Motion and Tropi-Cali Dancehall at ODC.
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.
Audrey Ingalls, Stilt Facilator – bio & photo coming
Mohamed “Tiger” Soumah, Drum Instructor – bio & photo coming
Martín Herrera-Pazmiño, Intern Drum Instructor – bio & photo coming