CO-CHOREOGRAPHER • AFRO-BRAZILIAN
Rachel began her professional studies in Salvador, Bahia. She has had the privilege to study with landmark masters such as: Mestre King, Jose Santos, Rosangela Silvestre, Vera Passos, Nildinha Fonseca, Matias Santiago, as well as at the Escola de Dança, Balé Folclórico da Bahia, and UFBA. She is skilled in Afro-Brazilian dance, Modern and Ballet. Rachel danced with mestre Kings Grupo Genisis, Balá da Mata, Fusion Dance Company, Ballet Santa Barbara, Marina Magalhes, and in the legendary production Saurê. She has danced with and choreographed for Ballet Santa Barbara, Viver Brasil and Bale folclorico do Brasil, Amalkoba nationally as well Capoeira Batuque Japao in Japan internationally. She also served as rehearsal director for Viver Brasil. She has developed her signature Afro-Brazilian dance classes and Extra Ancestral Workshops being taught throughout LA County. She currently is co-artistic director and choreographs the dance component of Extra Ancestral. She also plays percussion with Bloco Obini.
PERCUSSIONIST • MUSICAL COMPOSER
A native of Los Angeles, Kahlil Cummings is an acclaimed drummer, performer, composer, and educator. Kahlil was recognized as a child prodigy very early on and since childhood he has played with numerous reputable groups including Ballet Folclórico Do Brasil, Sona Sané, Abalayé, Mila Samba School, Inu Olorun, Debbie Allen Dance Company, Les Amazones, and Viver Brasil. Kahlil honed his musical talents with noted teachers including Mestre Amen Santo, Jose Ricardo Sousa, Kobla Ladzekpo, Esteban “Cha Cha” Bacallao, and Sandy Perez. His studies in Guinea, Brazil and Cuba have helped to widely broaden his knowledge and musical strength. However, he is most profoundly influenced by West African master drummer Mamady Keita, with whom he has studied since the age of 13. Kahlil helped start the group Balandugu Kan, which was sanctioned by Keita as representing “the voice of Balandugu”--- the village where Keita was born. His compositions can be heard on his debut album Iniké Baba, recorded live in Guinea, West Africa.
Kahlil was the musical director for opening numbers for both the NAACP Image Awards and the Choreographers Awards in 2004. Since then, he has performed with several renowned artists such as Janelle Monae (American Idol), Shakira (music video “Waka Waka), and Gwen Stefani. He recently recorded percussion for Aloe Blacc’s song titled “Let the Games Begin,” which was featured in the movie “Race.” In addition, Kahlil performed with Pharrell Williams and Kendrick Lamar in the 2015 and 2016 Grammy Awards, respectively. His prolific abilities have even taken him as far as Japan, where he produced and recorded music for Takarazuka, an elite Japanese theater ensemble, and for Pomba, a well-known fitness company.
VIDEOGRAPHER & EDITOR
Simone Santos is a passionate and dedicated visual creative. 3 years ago, she began her journey; curating visuals through photography, creative directing and cinematography which eventually led to her own creative/production company, “Si The Vision.” She has worked with many brands, artists and businesses, including a luxury travel company where she spent a year traveling the world filming. She is self taught in both shooting and editing which makes her photographic style raw and unconventional, yet cinematic. She takes her camera everywhere she goes, capturing anything and everything she is inspired by.
Aminata Diop is a 3rd year World Arts and Cultures & African American Studies double major at UCLA. She is a singer/songwriter, actress, and dancer who’s work centers around healing, mental health, transparency, spirituality, and love. Her passion lies within community centered healing and arts based social justice .
Rashaida Hill began her training at 18 years old committing to dance as a major at Old Dominion University. Even though she had no prior formal dance training, she excelled and was awarded departmental scholarships throughout her tenure. While in school she also danced professionally for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Virginia Opera in their production of Carmen. After receiving her B.A in Theatre and Dance from Old Dominion University, she was awarded an internship (2014) and student scholarship (2015) with the American Dance Festival. She trained under several world-renowned artists, most notably Jennifer Nugent (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company), Jack Ferver, and Chuck Davis (DanceAfrica). After her time at the American Dance Festival, she began training and performing with the Todd Rosenlieb Dance ensemble. She went on to not only perform, but teach and choreograph for the ensemble where she presented her original works, Let’s just call this an experiment and I’m not okay. She joins the UCLA World Arts and Cultures dance program as a Graduate Opportunity Fellowship recipient where she will continue to explore the subjects of black feminism, the lives of Black Americans, mental health, and socioeconomic disparity. Dance and performance art for her has always been a saving grace for expression in an otherwise anxiety filled, quiet existence. Her hope is to spread that feeling with as many people as possible.
Tula B. Strong
Tula B. Strong is an emerging choreographer, educator, and performing arts professional passionate about helping artists thrive. She has served performing arts organizations such as CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Company, By Jade Charon Company, Dan Froot & Co., and the UCLA Department of World Arts & Cultures/ Dance in the production, public relations, education programming, and arts administrative capacities. Within the age of COVID, she has helped produce the UCLA WACD 2020 Faculty Virtual Concert — featuring works by guest choreographers Jackie Lopez, Milka Djordjevich, Faye Driscoll, and Lisa Parra — and the online premiere of emerging choreographer, Jade Charon’s, newest dance film, “Gold.” Tula has received MFA in Dance from UCLA, her Masters in Educational Studies from Loyola Marymount University, and her Bachelors from Princeton University. www.tulabstrong.com
Wanye’ (pronounced Juan-Yay) Yoakum is a creative director, producer, and director of theater and film. In addition to this, she is a third year B.A candidate of Theater with an emphasis on directing at UCLA’s College of Theater, Film & Television and B.A candidate of African American Studies in UCLA’s College of Letters & Science. Her passions are dedicated to reflecting society’s flaw of misunderstanding our natural community as individuals, despite our separation based upon our identities. She strives for proper representation in media, pursuing this as the managing director of Color Box Production Company, and as the executive director of Folx Productions. Her upcoming project, Dichotomy, discusses the juxtaposition between the black and white bodies based on the identities of race, gender, and sexuality, and is set to premiere in mid-December. Wanye’ is determined to become a force that exceeds societal conformity, with connection and universal language through art.