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.
Audrey has worn many hats at Loco Bloco as performance stilt instructor, program assistant and carnaval costume facilitator. Her passion for the work comes from being a San Francisco native who grew up watching Loco Bloco impact the lives of youth and positively contribute to the communities it served. In 2013 she finally joined Loco Bloco as a student of stilts along with her daughter and from there graduated to stilt assistant, then to stilt instructor and kept upping her involvement from there. As a teen, Audrey was involved in multiple community organizations as a youth leader which lead her to working in various community organizations as an adult serving youth and families in San Francisco. She has also been involved in art and music her entire life with formal training in choir with the SF Girls Chorus, clarinet and saxophone at School of the Arts HS, and musical theater at A.C.T. as well as self taught in poetry, painting, jewelry making, costume design and construction and more. She was also a part of the original contingent of stilt walkers in the SF Chinese New Years Parade as a child and brought those skills back to Loco Bloco. Her mentor told her when she was younger that if your work is not serving the youth, the next generation, then you’re not doing the right work. This advice has stuck with her and has continuously motivated her to continue learning and growing on this path of youth development and community engagement.
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!
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.
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.
Polly Bates, Stilt Instructor – bio & photo coming
Miguel Gonzalez, Drum Instructor – bio & photo coming
Martín Herrera-Pazmiño, Intern Drum Instructor – bio & photo coming