World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival

Audition Brochure 2004 graphic






San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

2019 Festival Artistic Directors

Artistic Directors Māhealani Uchiyama, Patrick Makuakāne, and Latanya d. Tigner

Patrick Makuakāne, Founder and Director of the Hawaiian dance company Nā Lei Hulu i ka Wēkiu, is a creative force in the hula world, known for innovative choreography and groundbreaking theatrical performances. Originally from Honolulu, Hawai’i, Mr. Makuakāne studied intensively with two of Hawaiʻi’s most revered hula masters, Robert Uluwehi Cazimero and Mae Kamāmalu Klein. In 2003, under the tutelage of Mrs. Klein, he graduated as a Kumu Hula, or traditional master of dance, in the ritual ceremony known as ʻailolo ʻūniki; in 2013 he received a kīhei (symbol of honor) from Mr. Cazimero. In recognition of his cultural and artistic impact, Mr. Makuakāne has received, among other honors, The San Francisco Arts Commission 2018 Legacy Award; numerous Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, culminating in a Sustained Achievement Award in 2016; the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship in 2014; and a Choreographer Commissioning Award from the Hewlett and Gerbode Foundations in 2012. He was honored with the Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2006 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. He serves as the spiritual advisor and Kumu Hula for the Native Hawaiian Religious Spiritual Group at San Quentin State Prison. In passing down the customs of his own hula lineage, Mr. Makuakāne is helping to preserve a dynamic cultural heritage; in experimenting with music, dance, and multimedia, he is crisscrossing between native tradition and artistic evolution. The surprising result is the subject of the award-winning book, The Natives Are Restless: A San Francisco Dance Master Takes Hula into the Twenty-first Century.

Latanya d. Tigner has performed professionally with Dimensions Dance Theater since 1986, and has studied and toured nationally and internationally, performing multidisciplinary works rooted in African diasporic dance forms. Ms. Tigner holds a B.A. in Physical Education/Dance, a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration, directs Dimensions’ youth company, teaches dance at Contra Costa College and is a lecturer at UC Berkeley. She has worked with numerous choreographers and dance companies, including Kendra Kimbrough Dance Ensemble, Art of Ballet, Robert Henry Johnson, El Wah Movement, Housin’ Authority, RaRa Tou Limen, Fua Dia Congo, Urban Bush Women (SLI), Kiandanda Dance Theater, Soul Nubian’s Global Street Dance, and many more. Ms. Tigner has created commissioned works for Dimensions Dance Theater, Black Choreographers Festival, Robert Moses’ Kin, and has presented work in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Cuba Caribe, and Mabina Dance Festival (Congo-Brazzaille). Ms. Tigner’s contribution to Dimensions’ The Town on Notice and her recent untitled work-in-progress address gentrification and the perceptions of homelessness. She has also set choreography for Cal Shakes' production of black odyssey, SF Shakespeare's production of A Winter’s Tale, Ubuntu Theater's production of Dance of the Holy Ghost, Delina Brooks' An Open Love Letter to Black Fathers, Contra Costa College's productions of In the Blood, For Colored Girls, and Godspell, and Li Smith's production of Purlie Victorious. Ms.Tigner’s current research and study include New Orleans Second Line parading traditions and traditional dances from the Kongo Kingdom. She recently accepted the opportunity to be the first Artist in Residence at Mills College's newly renovated Lisser Hall.

Māhealani Uchiyama is an award-winning dancer, musician, composer, choreographer, recording artist, author, and teacher. An advocate for cultural understanding, she is the founder and Artistic Director of the Māhea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in Berkeley and is Kumu Hula of Hālau Ka Ua Tuahine. Ms. Uchiyama is also the creator and director of the annual Kāpili Polynesian Dance and Music Workshops. She holds a BA in Dance Ethnology and an MA in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi. In addition to her hula and Tahitian dance training, she has performed professionally in the genres of Caribbean and North African dance. As Kumu Hula, she has led numerous performance tours to Tahiti, New Zealand and the islands of Hawai’i, and has taught workshops throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. She has been an instructor of Hawaiian Language at Stanford University, contributed a chapter on the hula for the publication Dancing on the Earth and authored the Haumāna Hula Handbook for Students of Hawaiian Dance (published by North Atlantic Books / Penguin Random House.) Her CD, A Walk by the Sea, was awarded the 2007 Hawai’i Music Award for Best World Music Album. She is the 2009 recipient of the Aloha Spirit Award and has been presented the 2015 Ke Kanaka Poʻokela (The Person of Distinction) Award by the Berkeley Hawaiian Music Festival. She has also served on the panel of dance experts for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and the Tahiti Fete of San Jose and Hilo. Ms. Uchiyama is the former President of the Board of Directors of World Arts West, the producers of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

2019 Auditions Panelists

Blanche Brown formed the dance troupe Group Petit La Croix in 1988 to fully express and visually explain the Haitian culture by combining western choreography and techniques with traditional Haitian dance and drumming. Blanche has since taught ethnic dance in the California University system from UCLA to Hayward, Sonoma, and Santa Cruz. Blanche has also taught classes at Mills College, Santa Clara University, the Modern Dance Center, the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, and at Third Wave Dance House in San Francisco for many years. Blanche has been widely recognized for her contributions to the dance community over the years: in 1977, she was the first dancer to be appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission; in 2003, she was President of the Board of World Arts West, producers of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; and in 2008, Blanche received the Festival’s Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Ethnic Dance and Music. Today, Blanche still teaches and challenges people from all walks of life at ODC in San Francisco.

Shambhavi Dandekar is a well-known performer, teacher and choreographer in the field of Indian Classical kathak dance. She started her training at the age of 4 with her own mother and renowned Guru in India, Pandita Maneesha Sathe. She also received intense training in rhythm from tabla Guru Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. Shambhavi has a Bachelor's degree in Commerce and two Masters in Dance. She also holds Diplomas in French and Sanskrit languages. She has performed in reputed dance festivals in Japan, China, the Middle East, Canada, Australia, Singapore, India and the US. She is a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO. Shambhavi has 25 years of teaching experience, and Shambhavi’s International School of Kathak (SISK) is a prominent institute in Pune, India and Sunnyvale, CA. With her unique teaching methods, she guides performers and students all over the world through workshops and master classes.

Malia DeFelice is best known for her knowledge of Middle-Eastern and North African dance, including Raqs Sharqi, regional folkloric styles of Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf, as well as American forms of cabaret, tribal and fusion styles. She has an academic background in cultural anthropology with a focus on dance and ethnomusicology. For decades she has been a dance and musicology researcher, educator and entertainer for ethnically diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most influential mentors include Jamila Salimpour, Aisha Ali, and Ibrahim Farrah. Malia conducts ongoing classes and continues to entertain regularly at Middle Eastern venues. Additionally, Malia performed as a core dancer with Rosa Montoya’s Bailes Flamencos for over ten years. She also studied and performed Mexican folkloric dance under the directorship of Susan Cashion and Ramon Morones with Los Lupeños de San José.

Smita Singh has spent a lifetime immersed in global issues and has experienced a vast range of world dance and music. She was the founding director of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's Global Development Program, and prior to that, she was a scholar at the Harvard Academy of International and Area Studies, researching the comparative political economy of developing countries. She has also worked for the Commission on National and Community Service (now the Corporation for National Service), where she created programs and funding strategies for dispersing grants to community service and service-learning projects at over 200 colleges and universities. She has also worked for ABC News’ “Nightline” and with community-based women’s organizations in India. She is currently serving as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Oxfam America and sits on the governing boards of several nonprofits, including the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Twaweza, the International Budget Partnership and the Center for Global Development. She is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group and served on President Obama’s Global Development Council.

Dr. Victor Torres, Ph.D., is a full Professor in the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University, Fresno. He is currently director of Fresno State’s Los Danzantes de Aztlán Mexican dance program, one of the Central Valley’s most established and accomplished programs. Under his direction, the program has earned top awards in Binational (US-Mexico) and national competitions. It has made three recent appearances in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Dr. Torres is also on the Board of Directors of the Associación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos (ANGF), serving as Vice-President, Director of Cultural and Educational Affairs, and Parliamentarian. He is the founder of the annual Festival de Los Danzantes folklórico conference, and the annual Cal State Folklórico show (which features various California State University groups). Dr. Torres is also a member of the Danzantes del Valle Advisory Committee for Arte Americas–Fresno’s major Latino cultural center.

Ron Wallace’s love and understanding of Scottish dance and music have made him a familiar name on workshop staffs internationally teaching Scottish Country, Highland, Step, and Cape Breton Step. Hundreds of invitations over the past 50 years have brought him to Scottish dance centers in Scotland, North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. He has trained teachers across North America, and examines teachers for the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Juried Memberships include: Fellow of the United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dance, Member of the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance, Member of the British Association of Teachers of Dance and Member Adjudicator Scottish Official of Highland Dance. For the past 27 years, Ron has been the Artistic Director of Dunsmuir Scottish Dancers, presenting many Scottish dance forms in festivals in the western United States as well as Europe.

Shannon Yip is a retired educational administrator with a strong commitment to student educational development, instilled with cultural experiences. Her strong background and successes in helping learners reach their full potential includes 37 years in the education field, with a focus on English language development, cross-culturalism and bilingual education as a classroom teacher, strategic instructional development as a teachers’ coach, and as an elementary school principal in a multilingual/multicultural school. As a special interest artist, Shannon has spent 32 years as a dance instructor/program director for the Chinese Folk Dance Association of San Francisco, which was established in 1959. She also danced with the company for 20+ years, and participated in the early years of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Presently, Shannon is on the Executive Board of the San Francisco Chinese Culture Center, supporting community activities that reflect the Chinese culture in its traditional and evolving contemporary forms.

Panel Moderator Tyese Wortham serves artists and arts organizations through real estate development, running Keeping Space – Oakland, a technical and financial assistance initiative, as the Director of Community Engagement at the Community Arts Stabilization Trust. Prior to CAST, Tyese honed her social justice lens as a grantmaker in Cultural Equity Grants at the San Francisco Arts Commission, and as a presenter and producer of culture-specific artists with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Tyese is currently a leadership fellow with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) and is a practicing dance artist specializing in the folkloric, spiritual, and performative African traditions of Cuba and Peru.