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Choreographer/ Artistic Director
Since 1979 Joanna has been creating work that uses natural, architectural, and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Her stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts, and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by many arts institutions, including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Walker Arts Center, SF Exploratorium Museum, National Black Arts Festival, and Festival d'Avignon. She has also been honored with the Guggenheim Fellowship, Cal/Alpert Award in Dance, US Artist Fellowship, New York Bessie Award, and the esteemed Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Joanna has had the privilege to mentor many extraordinary young artists internationally at the National École des Arts du Cirque in France, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in England, Spelman College, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, San Francisco Circus Center, and at Zaccho Studio. Most recently, Joanna was awarded the Artistic Legacy Award by the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2020 and the Individual Artist Fellowship by the California Arts Council in 2021.
Walter Kitundu is a Tanzanian-American multidisciplinary artist and educator. He creates sculpture, sound installations, and large scale public art works that address place, history, nature, and community. Kitundu also builds extraordinary musical instruments and mechanical devices when he isn’t obsessively documenting the natural world as a bird photographer.
Kitundu is director of Kitundu Studio, which focuses on the development and installation of public art works. He is an occasional professor in the Sound Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and contributes to the masters program for interdisciplinary arts at Sierra Nevada College. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008.
As a long time member of the Zaccho family he is deeply honored to share in the creation of this state of grace.
Wayne Campbell has provided scenic design, props and aerial rigging for Zaccho Dance Theatre since 1998, participating in such projects as Invisible Wings, (1998) at Jacobs’ Pillow; Departure and Arrival (2007) at San Francisco International Airport; Dances around the House (2005), at the San Francisco Exploratorium; Ghost Architecture (2004) at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Al Pozzo Di Sogno (2011) at Oliver Ranch among many others. He spends most of his time in his studio in West Marin making furniture and art.
Sean Riley is a designer who combines suspension, kinetic movement, and narrative sculpture with performance. Through scenic design, rigging design, and mechanical design, often in concert with each other, he creates unique environments and apparatus for time based art around the world. Known for bold and often surprising transformation of space and for large scale movement, Riley’s long career has spanned a wide spectrum of genres including Theater, Dance, Opera, Television and Gallery Installations. Awards and nominations include: Several Izzies, TBA awards, Bay Area Critics Circle, and an Isadora Duncan Sustained Achievement Award in scenic design. Riley studied Theater at UCSC and lives in British Columbia. Further information at www.visiblegravity.com.
“I have been very fortunate to work with Zaccho Dance Theater for 20 years now, and have learned to trust Joanna Haigood’s vision enough to follow her anywhere. Love, a state of grace is a triumph of Joanna’s bravery, persistence, and heart. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
David Freitag is a San Francisco-based rigging designer who has spent the past 20 years flying aerialists, performers, and heavy objects all over the world. He has served as lead rigger for wide range of site-specific aerial dance and circus productions, installing unique systems on walls and theaters around the country and internationally, including Cirque Mechanics touring productions of Birdhouse Factory & Boom Town, The 7 Fingers (Dear San Francisco), Zaccho Dance Theatre (The View From Here, Picture Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival), Capacitor (Okeanos), Flyaway Productions (Meet us Gently with Your Mercy), Printz Dance Project (Hoverspace), Sens Productions (Rapture), and Circo de la Luna. Dave spends his time between aerial dance gigs working as an ETCP certified journeyman member of IATSE Local 16, the house rigger at the SF Masonic Auditorium, Stanford Memorial Auditorium, and (formerly) the Curran Theatre. Recently, Dave designed and installed innovative new theatrical rigging systems for Club Fugazi, Dogpatch Studios, The Fillmore Auditorium, & AcroSports SF. Dave is proud to serve on the rigging installation team for the Long Now Foundation’s 10,000 Year Clock project in West Texas. When not holding the other end of circus ropes, he may be found pursuing his habits of off-beat adventure, exploring new places to snowboard, climb, kayak, camp, fish, or soak. Currently, Dave is looking up, and always stands under his work.
Norm Schwab & Lightswitch
Norm Schwab, principal of the San Francisco office of Lightswitch, has designed lighting for over 45 years. His experience in theater, architecture, and entertainment has enabled him to impart new insight and approaches to lighting. He studied at the renowned Carnegie Mellon University Drama School, moving to San Francisco in 1983 to join Bill Graham’s FM Productions where he worked on such diverse projects as David Bowie’s “Serious Moonlight” tour, LIVE AID, the 1984 Democratic National Convention, the LA Olympics, and the launch of the Apple Macintosh Computer. In 1993, Norm and John Featherstone formed Lightswitch with offices in Chicago and San Francisco. Lightswitch now has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Hong Kong. Norm remains active as a full partner in helping to manage the five offices, while acting as principal designer on projects in over 30 countries.
Lightswitch has been instrumental in a wide range of projects including the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Beijing and Tokyo Olympics, the Panama Biodiversity Museo (Designed by Frank Gehry), The Fremont St Experience in Las Vegas, attractions for Universal Studios, Disney, theater productions on Broadway, and elsewhere, museum projects including the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Worldwide tours for Steve Miller and Alice Cooper, and providing lighting for such corporate clients such as Apple, Facebook, Nintendo, Tesla and Google. www.lightswitch.net
Krissy Kenny began her lighting career as a union stagehand and designer for educational and professional companies throughout Vermont. Since moving to San Francisco in 2013, she has served as Lighting Director for the vertical dance company Bandaloop, Head Electrician for the Curran Theater’s Curran Under Construction series, Lighting Consultant for several schools, non-profits, and a wine cave in Croatia. She has been Head Electrician on numerous corporate event keynotes and product launches, concerts, and has toured circus and dance shows to Mexico, St. John (USVI), Hungary, Canada, and across the US. Her unconventional background in labor gives a unique perspective on what is physically possible in design.
Since joining Lightswitch in 2019, Krissy has additionally taken on architectural lighting and project management. She relies on her collegiate background in anthropology, archaeology, and history, as well as activities that draw her into nature, to help clients tell their stories with exacting detail and boundless creativity. www.lightswitch.net
Joan Raymond is a costume collaborator, designer, and builder with over 40 years of experience. She has worked on over 100 productions while at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) as assistant costume shop manager and design assistant. Favorites include The Invention of Love, Arcadia, The Black Rider, Urinetown, and Edward II. She has built costumes for Alonzo King LINES Ballet, A.C.T., Marin Theatre Company, ODC, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, West Bay Opera, San Francisco Ballet, Brian Boitano, Menlowe Ballet, Third Cloud from the Left, and Teatro ZinZanni, among others. She has also designed for Zaccho Dance Theatre and Menlowe Ballet. When not designing or costuming, Joan enjoys surface design, shaped-resist dyeing, and a good puzzle.
Visual Artist & Religious Scholar
Dr. Yohana Junker (she/hers) is Assistant Professor of Art, Religion, and Culture at Claremont School of Theology. Her research probes the intersections of art, religion, and decolonial studies, with special attention to contemporary Amerindian and diasporic art practices. An ongoing learner of ancient healing modalities, she investigates how artists, healers, and spiritual leaders create sacred spaces that allow us to reclaim our sense of agency even in the face of impossibility. Junker's artistic practice is informed by a poetics of embodied resistance and co-belonging. Her publications include “Interreligious Pedagogies: Indigenous and Afro-Atlantic Religious Traditions and the Visual Arts,” “Unsettling the Gaze: Bathsheba between Verse and Image,” “Decolonizing Landscapes: Artistic Activism and Eco-religious Imagination.”
Theologian and Artist
Cláudio Carvalhaes, earth thinker, theologian, liturgist and artist, a native Brazilian, completed his Ph.D. in Liturgy and Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 2007. He earned his first Master of Philosophy degree in Theology, Philosophy, and History at the Methodist University of Sao Paulo in 1997 and a Master of Divinity degree from the Independent Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in 1992. In the summer of 2016, Dr. Carvalhaes joined Union Theological Seminary in New York City as the Associate Professor of Worship. Previously, he taught at McCormick Theological Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Carvalhaes is an ordained pastor within the Presbyterian Church (USA).
A much sought after speaker, writer, and performer, Carvalhaes preached at the Festival of Homiletics, Academy of Homiletics, Wild Goose Festival, Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry, Jubilee 800 Order of Preachers of the Dominican Order in Italy, Societas Liturgica in Belgium, Council of World Mission in Mexico, International Academy of Practical Theology in Brazil, at the Forum of Liturgics and Ethics at Hildesheim Germany, and other places. He led worship for the All African Council of Churches in Mozambique, taught at the Global Institute of Theology of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and has led worship and teaches at the Hispanic Summer Program since 2013.
Veronica Blair has emerged as one of the top Black aerialists in the country, and has taken her high-flying talents all around the world. A Bay Area native, she began her career at the age of 14 at the former San Francisco School of Circus Arts, now known as the Circus Center San Francisco. Shortly after making her debut at 17, she was noticed by Cedric Walker, founder of the Universoul Circus. Walker named Blair as a solo trapeze artist, and she was Universoul’s Resident Aerialist for over five years.
Blair has performed in “Afrika! Afrika!,” Germany’s largest circus event, and also worked for Universal Studios Japan. She still works with Circus Center and has put on shows featuring other Black aerialists and circus performers for themed events, such as a tribute to recording artist Prince in 2014.
Black circus performers are rarely recognized, and Blair has taken on the task of filming a documentary that puts a new light on those who work in the industry. Blair’s The Uncle Junior Project came about after the death of little-known Black circus animal trainer of the same name. In an attempt to uphold Junior’s legacy and that of the Black circus, Blair has the ambitious aim of bringing those unknown entertainers to the forefront.
Ciarra D’Onofrio is a dancer, aerialist, and educator with a passion for using dance as a means for storytelling, social analysis, and community building. She specializes in dance trapeze and trains in aerial silks, contemporary dance, and vertical dance. She has performed in redwood forests, cathedrals, and on trampoline walls, and most recently has danced here in the Bay Area with Zaccho Dance Theater and Helen Wicks Works. She studied dance and choreography at Lewis & Clark College where she received the 2015 Distinction in Dance Choreography Award. She then expanded her training in circus arts as a member of the Circus Project’s Training and Performance Company. She has taught aerial arts to youth and adults for ten years, and loves sharing her joy for movement and creative expression with students and audiences alike.
As a life-long dancer, Suzanne Gallo has performed with the San Francisco Opera, the Atlanta Ballet, Ballet West, Ballet Met, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, ODC, Dance Brigade, Sonya
Delwaide, the Native American Foundation for the Arts, Cielo, and Zaccho. She is a founding member of vertical dance company BANDALOOP where she has danced for more than twenty years. In 2021 Suzanne toured with Bandaloop to Atlanta as a practicing artist and teaching facilitator, offering workshops to the Moving In The Spirit dance school and working with young
professional dancers at Atlanta’s Immerse ATL. During the pandemic, Suzanne was invited as a co-collaborator to dance on a film project by Patricia Reedy, Director of Luna Dance Institute. In January 2022, Suzanne toured with BANDALOOP to Indianapolis, opening for Doja Cat at the College Football Playoff National Championship.
At BANDALOOP, Suzanne is the Youth Program Director, teaching BANDALOOP’s vertical methodology to adults, teens, and children at the company’s West Oakland studio. She teaches
workshops on tour nationally and internationally serving a diverse constituency of students. She built the curriculum for BANDALOOP’s vertical creatives kids’ intensive, and coordinates teachers and curriculum for the company’s school. Suzanne has a wide range of teaching experience at public and private Bay Area schools and as faculty with Zaccho Dance Theatre. For the last 16 years, she has led BANDALOOP’s rich annual collaboration with Destiny Arts Center, teaching vertical curriculum to Destiny Senior and their production of Black Whole 2020 and, in 2021, collaborating on their production of Low Tide Rising.
Nina Sawant is a multidisciplinary circus artist with a fascination for visual storytelling. Nina began her career as a dancer at Busch Gardens Tampa in 2006, where she discovered circus through fellow cast mate Vitaliy Krymskyi. She went on to tour with Vitaliy and his family in Ukraine, and has since performed across the US and Europe. She is a founding member of The Dahlias, a woman of color led circus ensemble, and performs locally for Vespertine Circus, Sweet Can Productions, and Misfit Cabaret. When she's not on stage, Nina can be found making costumes, short films, and more for her Patreon.
Saharla Vetsch (she/her) is a Somali American independent dance/drag artist born and raised in Minnesota. Now residing in the Bay Area, Saharla has earned a degree in Performing Arts and Social Justice with a concentration in dance from the University of San Francisco. Her work centers around questions and curiosities about individuals’ intersecting identities and how they relate to one another. Her drag persona Major Hammy seeks to spread joy and love by being the life of the party, and bringing the freedom of self expression he experiences through dance to others.
Saharla was recently a collaborating artist in Detour Dance's "WORK MORE! 9" and participated in other pieces as part of their "Up On High" film series. She has also performed with Joe Goode Performance Group in "Time of Change" and is currently a RAWdance Radiate fellow.
Helen Wicks is a performer, choreographer, and educator based in the Bay Area. Her initial training was in elite gymnastics where she was a member of the USA National Team. Helen has undergone extensive classical training and is currently influenced by her time with Deborah Hay and Quincy Jones. She currently performs with Zaccho Dance Theatre, Flyaway Productions, and her company, Helen Wicks Works. Her own choreography has been presented at SPACE 124, ODC, Triskelion Arts, Z Space, Circus Center, SF Aerial Arts Festival, SAFEhouse, Skybridge on Stevenson, and more. Helen received a BA in Dance and Psychology from Bard College where she performed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Merce Cunningham Company. She is a recipient of the Ana Itelman prize for choreography. helenwicks.com
Christopher Keady is an organist and Assistant Director of Music at Grace Cathedral.
Matt Leonard has been immersed in the intersections of event production and social justice activism for more than 25 years. He has managed concert venues, toured with platinum-selling artists as a live sound engineer, rigged and rappelled from iconic structures around the world, and organized some of the largest-ever campaigns and marches to address climate change while working with groups such as Greenpeace and 350.org. He currently works as a rigger and production manager with international performing arts groups including Zaccho Dance Theatre, Bandaloop, and Flyaway Productions, and serves as the Executive Director of the Oil and Gas Action Network.
Despite 25 years spent as a catcher on the flying trapeze, Scott Cameron is not an artist - but he does consider himself to be artist-adjacent. So, to offset the karmic damage he has done to himself as a shill for the corporate event entertainment world, he particularly enjoys aiding and abetting aerialists with their hijinks and machinations, serving them as a rigger and wrangler.
A San Francisco native and fourth generation Californian, Andrew Castle developed a love of working with ropes and being on skilled teams as a Mule Packer in Yosemite National Park. In the High Sierra, rock climbing and slackline also helped him cut his teeth on technical rigging and rope craft. During the past decade Andrew has been fortunate to work with and learn from storied riggers and performers in the Bay Area and beyond. Aerial dance, theatrical rigging, and stewarding the Be In Tree Nets project are his primary focus in the arts.
Sean Cotton is a former gymnast turned rigger. A native of Berkley, California, Sean began working in extracurricular youth spaces, like the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp, before he found his way into stagecraft in Oakland. His unique rigging projects over the last 10 years span from art projects to Burning Man, from arena sized events to corporate affairs, to this show here at Grace Cathedral. Sean enjoys working with innovative and creative projects and looks forward to pushing the boundaries in new ways. When not working, he loves to spend time in the mountains and the Sierra.
Sean O’Brien got his start with ropes working with Greenpeace hanging banners. Since then
he's washed windows, worked on the Golden Gate Bridge, and now works with the Sign and Display Union, Local 510. Born in Oakland, and then growing up in the Northeast, he returned to the Bay after school. He's done a variety of political organizing in the Bay for 15 years, mostly rooted in Oakland. When he's not working or dreaming of collective liberation, he's playing drums, playing soccer, or escaping to the woods.
Afiya “Fi.” Williams
Assistant to the Artistic Director
Afiya “Fi.” Williams is a renaissance woman -- producer, educator, and artist working for racial and social justice at the intersection of art, education, and community. She has over fifteen years of experience working for social change in non-profit arts and education, nurturing community, and producing programs, events, and films. A world traveler, Fi has built connections and community around the world, working to understand and minimize the barriers and divisiveness caused by perceived differences. Fi believes art, joy, rest, and storytelling have vital and irreplaceable roles within activism, and through these, she seeks to fuel the movements for racial justice by fostering ways of thinking and being that create healthy lifestyles and thriving communities.
Reverend Kirk Davis
Reverend Kirk Davis was born and raised in San Francisco California. Kirk has been married to his wife Denise for 35-yrs and they have 3 children, Destini, Curtis and Isaiah. Kirk has worked in different industries in San Francisco. Kirk leads Kairos of San Francisco in Bayview/Hunters Point.
Kairos SF is an experimental creative community space for faith entrepreneurs to step into their gift and call, training leaders to transform their community. A place for innovative ideas, deep leadership community, and fearless pursuit of faith, love, and justice.
I’m a Pastor, Leader, Influencer, Reconciler, Justice warrior and Golden State Warriors Fan, Lover of San Francisco & Bayview/Hunters Point.