top of page

17th Annual Festival
of Dance & Music

March 31 - April 9, 2023

Mouth of a Shark & Reunión/Gathering
Mouth of a Shark
World premiere by choreographer Ramón Ramos Alayo and Alayo Dance Company 


March 31-April 2, 2023
ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco, CA  94110

Performances are:

Friday, March 31 at 7:30pm

Saturday, April 1 at 7:30pm

and Sunday, April 2 at 4:30pm


Tickets, adult $35, youth 12 and under $25 are available at

A reflection on the lives of immigrants, Mouth of A Shark is inspired in part by Somali poet Warsan Shire’s poem Home. It will incorporate the choreographer’s extensive knowledge of Afro-Cuban dance forms into a conceptual framework of the dual identities of immigrants. It is also informed by the time Alayo spent in his birthplace of Santiago, Cuba in 2020 and 2021, working with young professional dancers from Danza del Caribe—the company he danced with before immigrating to the US—on movement created and filmed in response to Shire’s poem, “No One Leaves Home; Unless Home is …” The program will open with the screening of a film followed by the world premiere performances of the piece, with additional film footage serving as a visual backdrop for the dancers. Please note show begins outside standing at 7:30 so dress with layers and let us know if you need mobility accommodations contact us at

A mixed program with performances by:

Alafia Dance Ensemble, Los Lupeños de San José, Agua Doce Dance, Cuicacalli, Embodiment Project, La Unión Matancera, Batey Tambó

April 7-9, 2023

Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Performances are :

Friday, April 7

Saturday, April 8 at 8pm

Sunday, April 9 at 5pm


Tickets, $28, are available at


Seven local and visiting dance companies will create original choreography rooted in the Caribbean and it’s Diaspora based on the curatorial vision. Gathering is either a noun or a verb, something we do or is done. After the last few years in a global pandemic, we recognize the importance of physically coming together. The isolation and reuniting after has taken many forms. We will reflect on our individual and shared experiences and resilience. Dance, music and art proved more important than ever; they enabled a way to communally gather, to be a part of something larger than ourselves and to share, a way to express emotional struggles and joys and serves as freedom for individuals, cultures and communities. This is true now and has been true throughout history.


Special Events:


Q & A and Reception with choreographer Ramón Ramos Alayo and filmmaker Reinier Charon

Friday march 31st after show at ODC Theater (entrance included in show ticket)


Afro-Cuban Modern Master Dance Class with Ramón Ramos Alayo and Marco Palomino

Saturday April 1st at 11am, ODC Theater

Tickets $25/advance, are available at

Tickets $30/door

Afro-Cuban Folklore Master Dance Classes with Emilio Hernandez González – Dancer, choreographer and teacher with Raíces Profundas from Havana Cuba via Miami.

April 6-10, 2023 - various locations in SF and the East Bay
Tickets $25/advance, are available at

Tickets $30/door

CubaCaribe 2023 HonoreeThis year CubaCaribe pays tribute to the community contributions of Yvonne Daniel, Ph.D, Professor Emerita of Dance and Afro-American Studies at Smith College for her Caribbean dance research 

Saturday April 8th before the show 8pm at Dance Mission Theater (entrance included in show ticket)

Post-Show PartyIncludes one appetizer and one drink, performance by Emilio Hernandez González & dancing with DJ WALT DIGZ

Sunday April 9th show 7-11pm at Bissap Baobab 

Tickets $20 (with show ticket link above)

$26 (without show ticket)


16th Annual CubaCaribe Festival

Week 1 - Mouth of a Shark

Alayo Dance Company - Mouth of a Shark (video coming soon)

Week 2 - Reunión/Gathering

Agua Doce Dance - Uma Flecha So

Cuicacalli Ballet Folklórico - Son Jarocho Contemporáneo "Emprendiendo El Vuelo"

Embodiment Project - There's a Lemon Tree Growing Inside Her Belly

Batey Tambó - Bambula! De Borinquen a la Bahia, La Bomba es Vida

Alafia Dance Ensemble - Forças da Natureza

La Union Matancera - Odde Niwe Tafá Tafá

Los Lupeños de San José - Boda de Pueblo en Sinaloa

Performance photos by Alexa "LexMex" Treviño


Alafia Dance Ensemble 

In 1995, as dance faculty of City College of San Francisco (CCSF) Valerie Watson founded Alafia Dance Ensemble (ADE) in order to showcase the intricate beauty and culture of Haitian Dance and Music. Mariella Morales (Artistic Director), a San Francisco native began her love for dances of the African Diaspora due to her attendance at San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA), where she was introduced to Dunham Technique and African Haitian dance. Ms. Morales' academic credentials are: a B.A. in Dance from San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 2007; and an M.S. in Kinesiology from SFSU in 2012. Mariella became a Certified Dunham Technique Instructor in 2013. Ms. Morales has studied directly with Miss Katherine Dunham. She attended the annual Katherine Dunham Seminar in East St. Louis from 1999-2011. In 2000 & 2002, she was awarded scholarships to participate in the New York City Board Of Education Dance Institute, based on the Katherine Dunham Model. She also studied with Jean Leon Destine, a great dancer, choreographer, and historian, who was also considered as a national treasure of Haitian culture and the “father” of professional Haitian dance. In 2004, Mariella received a full scholarship to attend the Cultural Traditions Program at Jacob's Pillow under the direction of Jean Leon Destine. In 2010 and 2011, Ms. Morales traveled to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil for a month-long dance intensive with Rosangela Sylvestre, choreographer, dancer, instructor and creator of the Sylvestre Dance Technique and Augusto Omolu, master of Orixa dances from the African Brazilian traditions of Condomble. Her teaching credits are: City College of San Francisco, Chabot College Hayward, Destiny Arts, San Francisco Arts Education Project, Marsh Theater, University of San Francisco, San Francisco Unified School District. During a visit to Brazil in 2010, the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and Escola de Danca da Fundacao Cultural do Estado de Bahia invited Ms. Morales, as a guest instructor in Dunham Technique.


Cuicacalli  (House of Culture) is a year-round youth dance program and Company, based at Brava Theater in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District-the ​​unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone who are the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula. Founded in 2008 by renowned international performer Jesus “Jacoh” Cortes, Cuicacalli is an international, cross-cultural, dance-arts educational institution, providing Indigenous, Ballet Folklórico, and Contemporary Dance programs. Cuicacalli values its mission to serve the diverse community of San Francisco with dedication towards excellent instruction, performances, and community programs for intergenerational students, artists, teachers, and audiences of all backgrounds and continues to build relationships through dance while expanding and celebrating the cultural traditions of the Americas. Cuicacalli instills life skills such as self-expression, confidence, discipline, focus, leadership, teamwork, and positive attitude in its teachings to create responsible agents of change and influential pillars in our community. The offering of versatile dance styles give students a well-rounded curriculum of body awareness, movement dynamics, strength, flexibility, spatial composition, and the appreciation for the vibrant cultural rhythms that are the pulse of the Mission District. Cuicacalli strongly holds its values that all its participants are treated equally, respectfully, and with dignity. Cuicacalli does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or disability.


Agua Doce Dance

Stephanie Emmanuela Da Silva is a dance artist who pursued an MFA in dance and choreography after becoming captivated with Afro-Brazilian dance. She immersed herself in the dance culture of Salvador Brazil from 2007-2012, living there as a student, a dancer, a teacher, an artist and a designer. All of her work as a choreographer is influenced by her time spent there absorbing the vibrant rhythms, movements, language, music and art culture. As a choreographer her mission is to share her lived body’s experiences founded in the deep appreciation and discovery of traditional, contemporary, modern, and popular dances of Brazil. Her work portrays a unique style of Silvestre Technique and contemporary dance blended with elements of traditional Afro-Brazilian movements and rhythms. She strives to present high quality authentic work respecting the culture to stimulate, transform, and inspire her dancers and audience. Her goal is to create a thought-provoking dialogue of intercultural communication with the community through the appreciation and love she holds for dances from Brazil. She aspires to inspire a deeper connection to the self through the discovery and essence of a cultural embodied movement history. She believes that it is important to share stories and discover how each story or legend can be universally interpreted. Perspectives and cultures all possess differences and similarities, approaching them with an open heart and mind helps us learn, grow, and evolve to become a more culturally tolerant and thriving community. While living in Salvador she had extensive training as a dance student at FUNCEB with Rosangela Silvestre, Mestre King, Vera Passos, Paco Gomes, Nildinha Fonseca, Joaquim, Agosto Omolu, Lino and many others. She danced professionally under the direction of Anderson Rodrigo, Nem Brito and Norma Santana and performed in dances by many of the aforementioned mentors she had the privilege to work with. Stephanie was invited to train closely with the Bale Folklorico da Bahia under the mentorship of Zebrinha and Nildinha Fonseca and performed at the annual Encontro dos Artistas. She produced a fashion show of her original designs and costumes at the Miguel Santana Theatre where the Bale Folklorico presents. Locally as a choreographer, Stephanie has been awarded numerous grants by the Santa Cruz Arts Council and the Irwin Art Fund. She has produced a Dance Festival in Santa Cruz, Tracing Diasporas in 2017 & 2018 featuring dance artists from Brazil and the diaspora. She was a chosen choreographer to present work at the 2019 Tannery Winter Dance Concert opening for Dawson Dances, and has choreographed work for Saint Mary’s College, Santa Rosa Junior College, Cabrillo Community College, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. She has taught dance at ACDA, UCSC, SRJC, Saint Mary’s College, the SCBT and numerous private dance studios in Santa Cruz. She has been a featured choreographer for the SC Ethnic Dance Festival, Santa Cruz Dance Week, the Ebb and Flow Festival, and presents work at the annual Yemanja Arts Festival at Brasarte. She also choreographed and Performed with Ozomatli while they were on their 2014 Northern California Tour. Stephanie has been a certified Silvestre Technique instructor since 2011 and is in the process of becoming a Certified Dunham Technique Instructor.


Los Lupeños De San José

Founded in 1969, Los Lupeños de San José is recognized as one of the earliest Mexican folk dance companies in California.  Los Lupeños is known for its artistry, history, traditions, innovation, and originality.  Los Lupeños was the first incorporated Mexican folk dance group (1973) and has run as or under a non-profit organization ever since.  As a program of the Cashion Cultural Legacy since 2014, Los Lupeños is one of three dance programs, the others being Los Lupeños Juvenil and Los Lupeños Academy. Los Lupeños performing company dancers are passionate about learning and executing their art form, representing Mexican culture, and being a positive force within the California dance community. They are accustomed to exploring new methods of transmitting their love of Mexican dance to the community.  Especially rewarding are collaborations with other organizations sjDANCEcoSangam ArtsCubaCaribeWorld Arts WestRed Thistle Dancers – to name a few! Since January, 2015 Los Lupeños is lead by Artistic Director and Choreographer Samuel Cortez. Samuel Cortez, Artistic Director & Choreographer (He, Him, El) is responsible for artistic planning and oversight of our two dance companies, Los Lupeños de San José and Los Lupeños Juvenil. He researches the dance suites, selects the specific pieces to be performed, trains and rehearses the dancers, and works with guest artists and designers to create a unified artistic vision for each concert. Cortez, an LGBTQ+ Mexican immigrant, began his traditional dance background in his home state of Guanajuato, México where he rose to Assistant Director of the Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Guanajuato before moving to Colima to study at the Instituto Universitario de Bellas Artes under celebrated artist and choreographer Rafael Zamarripa. Cortez brought his wealth of knowledge and experience as a dancer, director, researcher, award-winning choreographer, workshop instructor, and costume designer to the Cashion Cultural Legacy in January 2015 after running his own dance company, Mexican Dance Ensemble, in Chicago for 14 years. A graduate of the Executive in Arts and Culture Strategy program, Cortez is a member of the International Dance Council, the Asociación Nacional de Maestros de Danza Popular Mexicana, and the Instituto de Investigación y Difusión de la Danza Mexicana. Cortez is also a 2021 NALAC Leadership Institute and MALI (Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute) graduate and he gives back by mentoring directors of other dance companies across the United States. He is often invited to give workshops or to be a guest judge during folklórico competitions. Cortez recently obtained his Bachelors in Danza Folklórica and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the Escuela Superior de Danza Folklórica Zitlalkiahuitl.


Reinier Charòn Morales is a leading audiovisual producer and cinematographer born, raised in Santiago de Cuba. Charón is also a photographer, music producer, and former member of the award-winning rap group Golpe Seko. He is a Member of the Registry of the Audiovisula Creator OF ICAIC (RECAC) and CEO at El Templo Producciones, an independent audiovisual production company founded in 2009. To date, he has made hundreds of video clips, many as general director, others as photography director and others as editor and post production director. He has made mini documentaries, album movie shorts, documentaries and films. He has also created advertising spots and promotional campaigns for the tourism industry and the private sector. He also is a photography director in TV Programs as well as directing the technical coverage of shows and events. Charón was a part of the team that produced the award-winning film "BAKOSO". He was nominated for the Lucas awards in 2017 and worked on the album video “This is our Changui” from the 2020 Latin Grammy nominated group, Changui Guantanamo. Changui Guantanamo was also an award winner at the XVIII Independent Music Festival (IMAS) In New York. He has worked as a photographer and videographer with various professional and Cuban and international theater, dance companies, record labels and world famous music groups including Los Van Van, Alexander Abreu, Pupy y Los Que Son Son, Septeto Santiaguero, and more. 


Emilio Hernandez Gonzalez is a master dancer, choreographer and teacher born in Cuba. He was  a dancer with Ibeyis de Merceditas Valdés, Bailarín de la Compañia Pinos Nuevos, a soloist with Ballet Folklorico Orisha Oko and dancer and choreographer with the famous Havana Folkloric dance company,Raices Profundas. He received the Ramiro Guerra 2016 prize for the best interpretacion of Folkoric dance and the prize of the Nacional de Coreografía de la Union Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC) 2019. He has also been a judge and teacher in International festivals in Ecuador, Chile, México, France and the United States. He recently immigtated to Miami from Havana Cuba and is teaching Afro-Cuban Folklore.


Yvonne Daniel, Smith College Professor Emerita of Dance and Afro-American Studies, is a specialist in dance performance and circum-Caribbean societies. Her publications include: Rumba: Dance and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba (1995), Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé (2005), and Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora Dance: Igniting Citizenship (2011).  Also, she has co-edited three collections: Dancing on Earth, a special edition of the Journal of Dance, Movement & Spiritualities (with Kimerer LaMothe and Sally Hess, 2017); Dancing Bahia: Essays on Afro-Brazilian Dance, Education, Memory and Race (with Lucía Suárez and Amélia Conrado, 2018); and Hot Feet and Social Change: African Dance and Diaspora Communities (with Kariamu Welsh and Esailama Diouf, 2019). Her book on sacred performance won the de la Torre Bueno prize, 2006; her book on dance citizenship won the National Libraries’ “Choice” award, 2011; and her co-edited book on Brazilian dance was awarded a Special Citation (2019) from the Dance Studies Association for “grounding research on the interstices of artistic practice and political activism.”  Dr. Daniel has published over fifty juried and solicited articles, encyclopedia entries, chapters, and she has edited four documentary videos on dance and African Diaspora religions.


Dr. Daniel was the featured speaker for Black History Month in Lima, Peru (2008); she gave the keynote address for the first dance conference given by the University of the West Indies (2014); she was a provocateur for the first colloquium on the black dancing body in Sao Paulo, Brazil (2015); she gave the Schlundt lecture on Social Dance at University of California, Riverside (2016); and she gave the keynote address at Amherst College for the Symposium on African American Dance (2018).  Most recently, she gave the keynote address for the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD) and also for the Tourism Research Conference at University of California, Berkeley, both in 2022.


Dr. Daniel is a Ford and a Rockefeller Fellow and has been a Visiting Scholar at Mills College and the Smithsonian Institution.  In 2013, Dr. Daniel received the Katherine Dunham Legacy Award from the Dunham Institute for continuing Ms. Dunham’s reliance on Dance Anthropology.  In January 2018, Dr. Daniel received the scholar’s award for lifetime achievement in research on black dance from the International Black Dance Association. In 2021, she received the “Phenomenal Woman” award from Mills College’s Alumnae of Color Committee and in 2022, she received the Distinguished Achievement Award from Mills College at Northeastern University.


After serving the Mills College Board of Trustees and the Mills College Board of Governors for the Alumnae Association, Dr. Daniel became an invited member of the Mills College Founders’ Society. She now serves on the UC Berkeley Alumni Scholarship Committee and on the Mills College Alumnae of Color Committee.  She lives in the  Oakland/San Francisco area of California - with her four sons, ten grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Batey Tambó 

Batey Tambó is an Oakland and San Francisco-based, women of color-led cultural group grounded in the centuries-old musical tradition of Afro-Indigenous Puerto Rican Bomba. Batey Tambó director/founder Denise Solís (La Bombera de la Bahia), founded one of the first ever all female Bomba ensembles, Las Bomberas de la Bahia, and more recently co-founded and co-led, Taller Bombalele.  She has been a student of Bomba since 2001 and continues to learn from maestres and elders from Puerto Rico and the Diaspora, she is one of the first women to play the Subidor (lead drum) in the tradition of Bomba. 

Batey Tambo co-director, Julia Caridad Cepeda (Julia Danse), is from the esteemed Cepeda Family who have carried this tradition for more than 8 generations and counting. Julia Caridad Cepeda, artistically known as Julia Danse, has been dancing Bomba for more than 40 years, she has been a part of her family Bomba tradition as a student and as a Bomba dance teacher for most of her life, she co-founded and co-led Taller Bombalele Bomba Classes with Denise Solis in 2014 after moving to the Bay Area from Puerto Rico in 2013.  Julia Danse currently teaches Bomba Dance classes at Rythmix Cultural Works in Alameda along with Denise Solis, who teaches the Bomba Percussion Classes under Taller Bombalele. They teach Bomba Cangrejera in the tradition and with the blessing of their elders in La Familia Cepeda. 

Batey Tambó’s mission is to facilitate a discussion through teaching and sharing space for Bomba (Batey’s) that intervene discussion and practice on racial, gendered, geopolitical contexts by offering an opportunity for dialogue about capitalism and colonization through Bomba. As an embodied musical tradition Bomba is the result of the transatlantic slave trade and a tool for survival practiced by freed Africans (Cimarrones) in alliance with Taínos in Puerto Rico to communicate, pray, to agitate and organize revolts. 

Batey Tambó continues in that service of healing and liberation by facilitating spaces through the music and dance tradition of Bomba, offering classes, workshops through Taller Bombalele and performances both on the stage and in community honoring our complex histories and experiences in our diverse Latinx Diaspora as Batey Tambo. “La Bomba es Vida”

Embodiment Project 

Embodiment Project (EP) a Bay Area Performing Arts Organization that began as a street dance theater company. Our purpose is to uplift the ancestral and primordial power of dance as an act of resistance, collective healing, and social transformation. Since its inception in 2008, EP’s Founding Artistic Director, Nicole Klaymoon, has staged 12 original evening-length multidisciplinary dance productions including Music of the Actualized Child, and The Isadora Duncan Dance Award-winning Chalk Outlines for its original music by Valerie Troutt. Dance magazine contributing editor Rita Felciano called EP one of the Bay Area’s, “ten companies and artists who challenged expectations and unveiled surprises”.  EP produced Rennie Harris' 18th Annual Illadelph Legends Hip Hop Festival in 2015 and Get Free Festival in 2018 and 2022, which were week-long multi-city street dance intensives rooted in the cultural preservation of Black social dance traditions. EP’s dance films, The Wind Telephone and Chrysalis, sponsored by the SF Dance Film Festival’s Co-Lab and National Center for Choreography Akron was selected by several film festivals including MARFA Film Festival, Bucharest INTL Dance Film Festival and Barcelona’s Choreoscope Dance Film Festival, Screen Dance International.

DJ Walt Digz 

Embodis a veteran DJ and music collector, who along with this Añejo Productions crew pioneered the first "all-DJ timba Cuban Salsa party" format in the Bay Area in 2002.

Ramón Ramos Alayo was a principal dancer with several prominent Cuban dance companies, including Danza del Caribe and Narcisco Medina Contemporary Dance Company, touring throughout Europe, Belize, and Canada. Since relocating to the U.S. in 1997 he has performed with Robert Henry Johnson, Kim Epifano, Sara Shelton Mann, Zaccho Dance Theatre and Robert Moses’ Kin. He founded Alayo Dance Company in 2002 and CubaCaribe in 2003. His work is an innovative fusion of Afro-Cuban modern, folkloric and popular Cuban Dance, having choreographed and produced twelve full length dance performances. He has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, received the prestigious Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Emerging Choreographer’s Award, was recognized as “Best Dance Dynamo” by the SF Bay Guardian, was the recipient of a SF Bay Guardian Goldie Award, and has been hailed by dance critic Rita Felciano as “the best Afro-Cuban dancer whose choreography stands well beyond traditional modes.” His piece Goodbye was named one of the best premier’s in 2016 in Dance Europe Magazine.


La Unión Matancera was founded in 2021 in Los Angeles, California under the direction of Rene Sergranes Menocal, better known artistically as (Renecito el Matancero), who was the principal singer in the prestigious group, AfroCuba de Matanzas. This company has twelve members the group called Generación Rumbera, based in Los Angeles, California, is interested in promoting Afro-Cuban roots in general and especially the Matanzas tradition. This group has performed at events and universities in Los Angeles and accompanies Afro-Cuban master classes. It has been interviewed On Telemundo, and have performed at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, the Floridita bar-restaurant, and at Casa De La Música L.A. Their first album is also in the works, which bears the name of the group Unión Matancera.


Einar Leliebre Nuñez has been a lead musician with the esteemed company Danza del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba since 2003. He also plays and sings with Obbatuke, Grupo Barracón (by Luca Brandoli), has collaborated with Oyu Oro (led by Danys "La Mora" Perez) in New York, Manana Cuba in Cuba, England, Spain and Scotland and many more. He has participated in many national festivals such as the Olorun Festival, the Romerías de Mayo, the Jornada de la Cultura Iberoamericana, as well as national tours. He can be invited or hired to perform (singing and percussion) for events and remotely, lead percussion sections, give individual or group instruction in song and drumming, mount music with musical groups and dance productions, and construct Bata drums by hand. He is versed in the Folkloric music of Cuba, Rumba, religious music, and experimental collaborations with electronic and jazz styles. 

Nakachi Clark-Kasimu (she/they/fam) is a poet, singer, death doula and aspiring bodhisattva based in Richmond, CA. Formerly a public and private school teacher, Nakachi is a proud Black Teacher Project Fellow (cohort 2) and holds a master's degree in Special Education. 

Mouth of A Shark is funded by The Rainin Foundation and Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.

bottom of page