RAMÓN RAMOS ALAYO -
Ramón Ramos Alayo was selected by the Cuban government to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age eleven. In 1990 he earned a masters degree in contemporary and folkloric dance and dance education from the Havana's National School of Art. a graduate of Havana’s National School of Art, specializing in folkloric and contemporary dance. He was a principal dancer with several prominent Cuban dance companies, including Danza del Caribe, Narcisco Medina Contemporary Dance Company, touring throughout Europe, Belize, and Canada. His success continued after relocating to the U.S. in 1997; he has performed as a dancer with numerous outstanding companies, including Robert Henry Johnson, Kim Epifano, Sara Shelton Mann, Zaccho Dance Theatre and Robert Moses’ Kin. Ramon currently teaches Cuban popular dance, Afro-Cuban modern dance and children's movement at several local dance studios and schools.
He is respected throughout the Bay Area as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and the founder and artistic director and choreographer of Alayo Dance Company (2002) and CubaCaribe (2003). As director and choreographer, his work is an innovative fusion of Afro-Cuban modern, folkloric and popular Cuban Dance. He eloquently articulates his aesthetic vision through a synthesis of these dance styles, citing from each traditions, movements, narratives and concepts indicative of Cuban culture.
Ramos has choreographed and produced twelve full-length dance performances. He was featured in the article “Dance Across America” in National Geographic Magazine in 2006, and received the prestigious Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation’s “Emerging Choreographer’s Award” (2005) to develop his piece, Blood + Sugar. Ramos was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award nominee for the ensemble performance of Los Guedes(2006). He was recognized as “Best Dance Dynamo” in the SF Bay Guardian’s “Best of the Bay” (2009), and was the recipient of a SF Bay Guardian 2010 Goldie Award, hailed by dance critic Rita Felciano as “the best Afro-Cuban dancer whose choreography stands well beyond traditional modes.” Most recently, his piece Goodbye was named one of the best premier’s in 2016 in Dance Europe Magazine.
JAMAICA ITULE -
Jamaica Itule Simmons is a fine artist, graphic designer, early childhood educator, dancer and executive director of CubaCaribe, a non-profit arts organization. She received her B.A. in 1999 with a double major in Art and Hispanic Studies from Lewis and Clark College and an M.F.A. in Graphic Design at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The topic of her thesis was Dance as the Survival of Identity Within the Context of Cuban Culture, culminating in the production of a video, hand produced book and exhibition. Itule’s exhibitions include: Mis Altares, Portland 1999; Emerging Artists, Portland 2000; Sobrevivir, San Francisco 2005. In addition to her work in visual arts she has studied Cuban dance intensively in Cuba with Ban Rarrá and members of Cojunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Raices Profundas, Racatá, and Lady Salsa. Local teachers include; Danis “la mora” Perez, Susana Arenas Pedroso, Royland Lobato, José Barroso, Ramon Ramos Alayo, Yismari Tellez Ramos and José Rojas. She has performed with Alayo Dance Company, Ire Ile, Oyu Oro, Raices Cubanas. She was also a founding member and dancer with Las Que Son Son. She currently teaches at Monteverde School and has been the ED of CubaCaribe since 2014.
SONIA D. PINA
Sonia D. Pina is an Event Manager, Video Producer and Audio Engineer. She is the co-founder of MIJIS Productions, a media company producing creative work with artists from around the world. Ms. Pina has worked independently and completed projects for companies such as BAMM.tv and Google. She was the Lead Organizer for Batala San Francisco’s Encontro 2016, weeklong gathering for 120 drummers from abroad; activities included tourism, performances, and celebrations. Also, she was the Festival Producer for CubaCaribe Festival and Dance and Music, a three-week long festival that included dance performances, lecture/demos, and a film screening at four venues. She was born in Havana, Cuba and has been a Bay Area resident for over 10 years. She is the Musical Director for Batala San Francisco, and a dancer for Mahea Uchiyama’s Halau KaUa Tuahine.
AIDA SALAZAR -
Aida Salazar is a writer, arts activist, event producer and non-profit consultant. She has an MFA in writing from the California Institute of the Arts and has performed at cultural centers, arts spaces and universities. She has been a producer of a diverse array of festivals, concerts and special events for over twenty years with a portfolio of clients that include: The Getty Museum, The Skirball Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art - LA, The LA Cultural Affairs Department, East Side Cultural Center, CubaCaribe, Music in the Schools Today, BrasArte, Community School for Creative Education. As a consultant, she has lent her expertise in arts management and development that includes: PR and marketing, fundraising, strategic development, cultural space development and event and cultural center design.
AMY DRAIZEN -
Amy Draizen is an Educator, Event Producer, and Arts Promoter who lead the ‘Dance in Cuba’ trips with CubaCaribe for many years. Her passion for Cuban dance, music and culture began in 2002 when she first traveled there to study dance. Professionally, she is an Educational Therapist and Consultant in private practice. She has done fundraising and event production with Girls, Inc., AJWS, Living Jazz, Piedmont Piano Co, and KQED.
ISAAC KOS-READ -
Isaac Kos-Read is the founder a president of Kos Read Group, Inc. an Oakland-based communications and public affairs firm. When not advocating for results for civic-minded organizations, you can probably find him dancing Cuban salsa. Upon graduation, Isaac studied with various teachers of Cuban style salsa in Mexico and Los Angeles, as well as in Cuba in 2003 with PlazaCUBA with dancers from La Escuela Nacional de Arte and Ban Ra Ra. Isaac and his wife/life/dance partner Mary Massella, who met in 2002 on the dance floor of old school LA Cuban salsa dancing community haunt Zabumba, won the 2005 Miami Salsa Rueda Competition. Together they founded Salsa by the Lake in 2007, which is now one of the longest-running and largest Cuban social dance gatherings.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD -
Aida Salazar, President
Oakland, California, Writer, Activist, Female, Latina
Isaac Kos-Read, Treasurer
Oakland, California, Communications & Public Affairs, Male
Amy Draizen, Secretary
Oakland, California, Educational Therapist, Female, Jewish
Ramón Ramos Alayo, Artistic Director
Berkeley, California, Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, Male, Cuban
Jamaica Itule Simmons, Executive Director
Oakland, California, Teacher, Graphic Designer, Female, Latina
All members actively support the organization by volunteer work hours, either by being on the steering committee producing events and/or by being an artist in the programming. This is our first board and we are currently working on building a strong working/giving board.
ADVISORY BOARD -
Diane Bosquez (2011-2016 Health Plan Service Administrator
José María Francos (2010 -2017) Technical Director, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Krissy Keefer (2003-present) Artistic Director, Dance Brigade
Tania Santiago (2009-present) Dancer, teacher, choreographer
Kristina Ramsey (2003-present) Spanish Interpreter and Translator
Yismari Tellez Ramos (2010-present) Dancer, teacher, choreographer