Theatre Arts & Dance Spring '21 Guest Speakers Series


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Zahira Diaz and Amy Pinto

Zahira Diaz wearing lady liberty costume

Tuesday, March 2, 1-1:45 pm

Zahira Diaz (company member) and Amy Pinto (co-founding artistic director) are part of The Imaginists, a Santa Rosa-based theater company that creates innovative community-specific and site-specific work.  They’ll be discussing their work creating teatro jornalero (day laborers theater), its relationship to the teatro campesino (farmworkers theater) of the 1960s, and the evolution of their  multicultural, bilingual (Spanish and English), community-based work. 

Founded in 2001, the Imaginists is an experimental theater company based in Santa Rosa,CA that continually re-thinks theater; who participates, where it happens, and - what is it? Led by artistic directors Brent Lindsay and Amy Pinto, the Imaginists create contemporary performances with artists across discipline, community members, and a core company of performers. the Imaginists work is supported by the NEA, California Arts Council, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Network of Ensemble Theatres, Theatre Bay Area, and the Center for International Theatre Development.. 

Zahira Diaz is a performer, creator, teacher, and translator who has been working with the Imaginists since 2009. Zahira works in many different capacities including communications, translating performance texts, devising original theater, and teaching.  She has performed in and collaborated on many productions including Extranjeros en su propia tierraWomen’s WorkEverybody Eats/Todos Commemos, REALSpin-Off and four years of El show el arte es medicina, the Imaginists iconic bilingual, bicycle-powered, free park performances.

Amy Pinto creates & performs original, experimental, place-based, and collaborative performances that are often site-specific and community specific. For over twenty years she has been exploring the audience/performer relationship, engaging community, and pushing at the perceived boundaries of theater. She is founding artistic director of the Imaginists (2001). Amy attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and worked with Living Stage under the direction of Bob Alexander in Washington D.C. before founding KITUS, an experimental collective of interdisciplinary artists in 1994; this group would evolve into the Imaginists.  

The Imaginists website

Michael John Garcés

Michael John Garcés headshot

Tuesday, March 16, 1:30-2:15 pm

Michael John Garcés is the Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles, an acclaimed community-engaged ensemble, as well as a highly respected director and playwright. He’ll be talking with us about his stark, beautiful play points of departure, which delves deep into the indigenous communities of Chiapas, Mexico as they confront a disorienting world of displacement and migration.   Recent directing credits at Cornerstone include Highland Park is Here by Mark Valdez; Native Nation (commissioned and presented by ASU Gammage) and Urban Rez by Larissa FastHorse. Plays he has written for Cornerstone include Magic Fruit, the "bridge" project of the multi-year Hunger Cycle which brought together the many communities of the cycle; Consequence, out of story circles with students, teachers, administrators and parents in South Kern County; and Los Illegals, created in residence with communities of day laborers and domestic workers. Michael has developed and directed several works by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, including the just and the blind, with composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center), and /peh-LO-tah/ a futbol freedom suite (premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, subsequently at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago). Directing credits at other theaters include Seize the King by Will Power (The Alliance); Larissa FastHorse's The Thanksgiving Play (The Geffen Playhouse); The Royale by Marco Ramirez (Arizona Theatre Company); Epic by Ellen Struve (The Great Plains Theatre Commons); and Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman (premiere at Intersection for the Arts; other productions include The Guthrie Theatre, Cleveland Public Theatre and Mosaic Theatre). His full-length plays include south (Great Plains Theatre Commons), THE WEB (needtheatre), points of departure and customs (INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center) and Acts of Mercy (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater). 

Cornerstone Theatre Company website

Carlos Carrasco

Carlos Carrasco Headshot

Tuesday, May 11, 2-2:45 pm

Carlos Carrasco will be playing Lord Montague in the Public Theater’s highly anticipated upcoming bilingual audio production of Roméo y Julieta, starring Lupita N‎’yongo.  He’ll be talking with us about acting Shakespeare, audio theater, and bilingual production.  Credits:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream (dir. Amy Saltz), Antony & Cleopatra (dir. Estelle Parsons), Twelfth Night, (dir. Tina Packer); Broadway: The National Health, Circle-in-the-Square; Off-Broadway: Spain/1980, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, The Cuban Swimmer, INTAR; Regional: Richard II, Mark Taper Forum, Macbeth, Shakespeare & Co., A Raisin in the Sun, Hartford Stage; Film: Speed, Blood In...Blood Out, The Fisher King, Parker; Television: "The Burning Season", "Looking", "Insecure", HBO. Film Director: Five Shorts; Artistic Director: Panamanian International Film Festival ( 

Panamanian International Film Festival website




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Sammy June

Sammy June Headshot

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 4-5:15 pm

Sammy June is a queer, non-binary actor and illustrator based in Los Angeles, recently seen in Greenway Court Theater’s If I Should Wake.  They’ll be discussing current dialogue in the theater and film industry around gender, race, and representation, and how they relate to artistic choices and career paths. 

Sammy June's website 

Reena Dutt

Reena Dutt's Headshot

Monday, April 12, 4-5:15 pm

Reena Dutt is a city girl with a country soul who believes in creating with a conscience, on and off stage. Reena will be discussing current conversations in the theater and film industry around gender, race, and representations, and how they relate to artistic choices and career paths.  Upcoming: "Sitayana" (East West Players, 2021), “This is Not a True Story” (Artists at Play TBA 2021). Highlights: "If I Should Wake" (Greenway Court Theatre), “Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine’s” (LA Times Critic’s Pic, Sacred Fools), “Defenders” (Pandelia’s Yellow Canary), “Rise & Shine: I thought I was white” (Bad Hindu Productions), “Katy and Jennifer” (Fierce Backbone). Assistant Directing: “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo” (Fountain Theatre, dir. Jennifer Chang), “The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona” (The Geffen Playhouse, dir. Jo Bonney). Dutt served on the board at Theatre of NOTE and was the first South Asian Community Liaison for the Ford Amphitheatre. 2020 Drama League NY Directing Fellowship Semifinalist, 2018 and 2017 Producers Encore Award. Dutt is also a producer having screened her films at Sundance, LAFF, Outfest, Frameline, Cucalorous, NBCUniversal, BET, PBS/Latino and HBO.

Reena Dutt's website




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Ori Flomin

Ori Flomin headshot

Wednesday February 17th from 10-11:50am
Photo Credit: Yasmeen Giovanna

Ori Flomin is a dance artist based in New York City.  His work has been presented in venues around NYC as well as internationally in Austria, Japan, Israel, Norway, and Australia.  He created commissioned work for Zenon Company (Minneapolis), LINK  company (Perth),  SADC Tisch, NYU (NYC), The Place (London), and The Barnard Project (NYC) among others.

He holds an MFA in Dance from New York University and teaches in many universities around the NYC area as well as internationally at ImpulsTanz (Vienna), P.A.R.T.S.(Brussels), Sasha Waltz Company(Berlin), London Contemporary School of Dance(London), Ballet de Loraine( Nancy), Chunky Move (Melbourne), Terence Lewis Academy (Mumbai) to name a few. 

Ori performed with the Stephen Petronio Compnay, Neil Greenberg, Helena Franzén, Molissa Fenley, Maria Hassabi, Kevin Wynn and Michael Clark

He is a certified Yoga teacher and Shiatsu therapist. 

Ori Flomin's website

Robert Moses

Robert Moses Headshot

Monday, February 22nd from 10-11:50am

Since founding Robert Moses' Kin (RMK) in 1995 in San Francisco, Robert Moses has created numerous works of varying styles and genres for his highly praised dance company. Moses has worked collaboratively with numerous artists and organizations, toured his company nationally and internationally, and composed original scores for several of his dances. In addition to his work with RMK, Moses has choreographed for many dance, opera, and theater companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, San Francisco Opera, and Lorraine Hansberry Theater. A highly regarded master teacher, Moses has taught at schools including Mills College, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University.



THAR 373- Dances of the World

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Farrah McAdam

Farrah McAdam Headshot

Wednesday, February 24, 5:30pm

Calling on her movement experiences and gatherings in styles including Contemporary, Release Technique, Whacking, House and Hip Hop, Farrah McAdam is a dance educator, choreographer, and artist in the Bay Area who is invested in equitable, collaborative environments where history and critical thinking are investigated just as much as physical embodiments.  She has performed with CALI&CO Dance, Kristen Daley, and PULP Dance to name a few, has been honored to perform at ACDA’s 2016 Nationals at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. , and currently teaches through Sonoma State University, Luther Burbank Center, and Petaluma School of Ballet. Farrah has been a guest educator and choreographer around the West Region- including Arizona State University, Scottsdale Community College, Modesto Community College, San Jose State, Fresno State University, Sonoma State University, and ODC in San Francisco. She holds a B.A. in both Psychology and Dance.

Farrah McAdam's Instagram

Rulan Tangen

Rulan Tangen dancing

Wednesday, March 10 at 5:30pm
Photo Credit: Sunny Khalsa

Rulan Tangen's work explores movement as an expression of functional ritual for transformation, an embodied source of knowing, and energetic connection with all relations – human and beyond. With an international dance career, Rulan has also been a dedicated teacher, sharing  extensively in Native and inter-cultural communities across the Americas. Surviving cancer to discover her leadership purpose as Founding Artistic Director/Choreographer of DANCING EARTH, with a vision for inclusion she evolves a creative practice that explores intercultural  diversity and ecological relations. Her mixed ancestral  lineage includes Kampampangan / Pangasinan of Luzon Island in Pacific archipelago of Philippines as well to Europe’s Norsk and Eire, and  she has passionately cultivated successive generations of Native, mixed, and global Indigenous contemporary performing artists as cultural ambassadors and conduits for social change . She is recipient of 2018-19 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist fellowship for Service, Justice, Freedom, Courage, and Gratitude - and is grateful for all that roots her, for the dreaming and doing of Dancing Earth :  moving,  shaking , swirling the world into renewal

Dancing Earth website

Uzoamaka Nwankpa

Uzoamaka Nwankpa Headshot

Wednesday, April 21 at 6pm

Uzoamaka Nwankpa is a community health registered nurse with a strong passion and belief in the power of music and dance. Uzo is an educator, dance facilitator, entrepreneur,  researcher and an advocate for healing through indigenous (cultures) music and dance practices.

Originally from Enugu, Nigeria, West Africa, Uzo has infused her education with her passion for music and dance to create a project that promotes health awareness with the use of old technologies utilized by indigenous people all over the world. Wellbeing is enhanced simply by intentionally engaging the mind, body, spirit and environment in a healthy manner. Imagine a world that sing, dance and play together, that is a vision of a healthy community.

As a first generation Nigerian woman and global citizen, Uzoamaka Nwankpa has created diverse ways to preserve her culture around the world through innovative workshops, speaking engagements, presentations and performances. She is an advocate for using the arts as a healing tool for individuals and communities.

Joti Singh

Joti Singh Headshot

Wednesday, April 28

Joti Singh, Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company, is a dance creator and innovator, sprung from the U.S. American south to parents from northern India. She is the Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. Joti began her dance training in Punjabi circles, carrying through her body the culture that’s in her blood and memory. As an adult, West African dance entered Joti’s purview, transforming her body’s imagination. Through this multilingual body, Joti explores where history intertwines with contemporary continuities of celebration and injustice. She created the performance “Half and Halves,” about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California with collaborator Zenon Barron. Joti has received support from the Creative Work Fund, the San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, and more. Currently, Joti is creating the piece “Ghadar Geet: Blood and Ink,” about her great grandfather, Bhagwan Singh Gyanee's role in the Ghadar Party, based in San Francisco in the early 20th century, fighting for India’s independence from Britain.

Joti and her partner, musician Bongo Sidibe, lead bi-annual trips to Guinea and in 2012, opened the Duniya Center for Arts and Education in Conakry. She teaches Bhangra all over the SF Bay Area, including at Dance Mission Theater. Joti founded the World Dance program at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in 2016. She holds an MA in South Asian Studies from UC Berkeley and a BA in English from Reed College.


THAR 115A- Dance Styles (Hip Hop)​

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Monday, March 8th and Wednesday, March 10th from 12–12:50pm

My name is Moonyeka.

I am a queer femme mixed Ilocano movement based story teller who centers erotic power, generative healing, and celebration for me and the communities I am form. Within me is a whole squad of cut throat, but gracious Aswang. If you are unfamiliar with Aswangs, consider the following: Imagine that in the back of your heart is a portal. You enter, and once you arrive, there’s a blanket of humid air and your human self. You are amidst a rainforest and there is a clearing. Where the sunbreaks from the treetops, you are allured to a silhouetted me. Between my palms: a coconut husk cup full of the water you speak your intentions into. I pour the tubig over your head, a translucent veil adorns you and sends you to the pelvic sea of your deepest desires. Now swim.

I am the reigning deity of the $lut Sanctuary where you can call me Goddexx.

I am on a journey to integrate my erotic knowledge from various lived experience within the sex work industry, performing arts, and Aswang* guidance to offer sensually sacred, erotic, and body experiential healing spaces, especially for the communities that have raised me. *Aswang is an umbrella term for various shape-shifting, mythological, animist, folkloric, "evil" spirits and creatures in Filipino folklore.

What guided me to these offerings was my own transmutation work around my compounding trauma. I learned how to create and close portals, re-myth stories from my spirits, dance with my shadows, shape shift myself and my world into irresistible fantasy realms, reacquaint myself with fire, water, air, and earth.

My work is molded by ancestors from all realms and timescapes. The work that I offer works me everyday.

As my lessons crystallize I am led to my deep desire to offer transcendent spaces for you, for us.

It is with great reverence that I offer gratitude to all the lands, oceans, healers that have held me and generously talked story, shared knowledge. May the work I do serve the people, places, and historical timelines that contributed to my cycling deaths and rebirths.

Pre covid-19 I directed LIL BROWN GIRLS CLUB (a movement based mentorship program for young g*rls of color), organized (e)merge: a movement based healing intensive for dance communities and beyond in September 2019; and am working on LOOB**—a multi-disciplinary biomythography/memoir as part of my 2020 Northwest Film Forum x Velocity Dance Center Dance Film Residency.

I am currently making offerings at Velocity Dance Center which include Queen Tuts: An Intro to Tutting and NIGHTLIGHT, a dance party ritual every full moon. To follow my work you can visit me on ig at @m00nyeka, support my work and generate scholarships by subscribing to, or sign up for my newsletter at

Moonyeka Instagram

Moonyeka Patreon

Moonyeka Newsletter


Jasen Valdez

Jasen Valdez sitting on a wall

Monday, March 15th and Wednesday, March 17th from 12-12:50pm

Jasen ‘Sen’ Valdez is a dance artist, community builder, educator, and sometimes a badA$$ battler residing in the North-Bay. Currently associated with the Klick, a Santa Rosa hip-hop based company that provides affordable dance events in low-income communities, and Karpool Gang, a Hip-Hop freestyle group that integrate the importance of history and foundation for the Santa Rosa/Marin dance community. Jasen has taught at Sonoma State and numerous other studios all over the North Bay Area, and is now currently teaching at Roco Dance. His mission as a dance educator is giving students the space to approach dance beyond the surface level and to experience of connection with one another.

Jasen Valdez Instagram