Teatro San Diego was dreamt up in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in order to help San Diego become the vibrant, all-inclusive community it has always had the potential to be. At the time of the organization’s inception, the two largest minority communities in San Diego were Mexican and Filipino. Thus, the city’s two most prevalent languages aside from English were Spanish and Tagalog. "Teatro" means "Theatre" in both languages.
Despite being two of the most influential communities in their city since before California’s admission into the United States, these original San Diegans have been under-served and under-represented in San Diego’s performing arts community. The same is true of many other communities of color. Teatro San Diego works to rectify this disparity by emphasizing and accounting for the inclusion of all local nationalities and languages. It is this fusion of distinct cultures that will make San Diego truly San Diegan.
Teatro San Diego exists to further the founding social activists and artists' vision of bringing to life the multi-cultural spirit of San Diego through world-class visual and performing arts. To create an extended community by bringing together its many isolated and under-served communities in order to raise their visibility. By building facilities in southern San Diego and putting on grand professional productions across the globe, Teatro San Diego aims to provide arts education for all people while celebrating and maintaining San Diego's rich cultural heritage.
We respect each individual's experience and culture. We value how stories are portrayed and who they are serving.
We value professionalism and believe artists must be paid living wages.
We are mindful of cultural appropriation, anti-racism and seek to repeal tokenism.
We are committed to equal accessibility and exposure to arts education and professional productions.
The performing arts add to the vibrancy of our community by providing an integral service.
For years, the term All-American has been used to describe the ideal persona in the American literary canon, yet its meaning has always been vague. In order to maintain the values our nation has cultivated since its foundation, we need to define this term. At Teatro San Diego, we define All-American as those who strive to better themselves, pursuing excellence and accountability in any given vocation. The United States has always been a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of culture at the forefront of innovation, ingenuity, and leadership. We believe the performing arts have the power to define our culture and dictate the American brand. Therefore, through competitive hard work and collaborative intelligence, we at Teatro San Diego commit to continue to define the All-American persona.
What does it look like to hire and cast the very best of America? To a dreamer with newborn ambitions, this answer is vitally important. We believe it looks like the United States at its best: a vast representation of the entire world where no one is overlooked because of ethnicity, gender, or disabilities. We aim to achieve this by monitoring the census to ensure that the San Diego population is represented accurately. There are many stories that need to be heard before American art can become truly All-American. Teatro San Diego intends to write, choreograph, film, and sing those stories.
Board of Directors
Hannah believes we practice compassion and empathy through witnessing each other’s stories. Through Teatro San Diego, she hopes that we can create more of these opportunities and conversations. She is excited to be a part of this movement as it approaches the performing arts and education with a fresh perspective.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Hannah continued her training as a performer and educator at the University of California, Irvine. Graduating with honors, she received her BFA in musical theatre and her minor in educational studies. She performed around the world in the international tour of West Side Story. Additionally, she has performed across the United States at Barrington Stage Company, Grand ‘Ole Opry, North Shore Music Theatre, Theatre By The Sea and many other theaters. As she has navigated the artistic landscape on both coasts, she has noticed an imbalance in how, where, when, and by whom BIPOC stories are being told.
The arts and storytelling have always been how she explored connection, creativity, and community. Hannah has been teaching and tutoring students in both performing arts and academics for over a decade. Her work as an arts educator has spanned many institutions including Baayork Lee’s National Asian Artists Project, Broadway Dance Center’s Children & Teens Program, and New York Preschool. She continues to self-produce, lead teams and participate in think tanks which create indie films and indie theatre for all communities.
A proud San Diego native, Julio never forgets being raised in a trailer by immigrant parents. He is very grateful for everything the city and all of his mentors have given him.
Mr. Catano has performed nationally and internationally under the name Julio Catano-Yee. He has performed in 5 continents in over 20 countries and on national tours to over 40 U.S. states. Graduate of Fordham University, with a BFA in dance through The Ailey School in New York city. He has performed with dance companies including Ballet Hispanico, MOMIX, New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, San Diego Opera and City Ballet of San Diego. He has performed repertoire by Alvin Ailey, Jerome Robbins, Robert Battle, Anabelle Lopez Ochoa, William Forsythe, Peter Chu, Ray Mercer, Geoffrey Holder, Ramon Oller, Stefanie Batten Bland, Julie Bour, Thang Dao, Nathan Trice, Elisa Monte and Bradley Shelver.
He also had an extensive career in musical theatre, performing in the international tour of West Side Story, national tour of The Addams Family and many prominent regional theatres in the United States, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Theatre Under The Stars, Barrington Stage Company among others. Film credits include Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021), Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, TNT’s Animal Kingdom and FOX’s Pitch.
Mr. Catano has had an extensive career in education, teaching at various arts and dance institutions around the world. Mr. Catano was on faculty at Gramercy Arts High School, Broadway Connection, Broadway Bound Kids, California Ballet and Coronado School of the Arts. He is currently completing his MFA in musical theatre at San Diego State University where he has successfully completed his certificate in Grant Writing Development.
Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer
Director of Development
Ms. Ortiz has a BA in Political Science International Relations from the University of California, Riverside. In 2011 she helped start a business called Pilys, an international accessories store. At Pilys, she helped with contracts, taxes, financial documents, setting up credit lines and constantly keeping up with technological upgrades. Cindy also worked with IT wholesale federal reseller Blue Tech doing technical reports, RFI’s and RFQ’s with contracts upwards of $20 Million. She helped audit these reports and performed contract compliance while following federal regulations. She also has experience in the nonprofit sector at South Bay Community Services (SBCS) in Chula Vista. At SBCS she worked on contract compliance and quality assurance, state and county contracts for up to 10 sub contracted nonprofits with SBCS. She constructed contracts, made sure data analysis met requirements of the contracts while working with directors and program coordinators. She has volunteer experience with Mujeres Unidas 2010 serving as Co-chair of Community Service. Cindy currently works for the Port of San Diego as a Maritime Administrative Assistant.
Mr. Burtanog has a diverse background that includes theater, counseling, psychology and higher education. He has a Master of Education in College Student Affairs and worked in Higher Education for nearly 10 years. He has worked at both private and public universities, and has advised students organizations and faculty members providing leadership and mentorship. He was named New Student Affairs Professional of the Year for Southern California.
Ryan also has an MA in Counseling Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy and has worked as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist as a counselor at North County Lifeline with at risk youth and adolescents along with teaching parenting classes. He currently works as the on-campus counselor for the Woodbury University- San Diego Campus.
He worked actively as an award-winning actor and director, having performed throughout the San Diego theater community. He has performed at the Coronado Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lyceum Theatre and has sung with the San Diego Symphony. He has also advised the theater group of the Asian Pacific Island organization at Cal Poly Pomona. His monologue he wrote describing the Filipino experience as seen through the eyes of a newborn, was featured in an LA Times article. As a theater teaching artist, he worked with elementary school students by providing them life skills through theatrical performance and taught youth and adolescent acting classes.
Camille McPherson has been a force in San Diego’s arts and culture sector for nearly a decade. Currently in her ninth year as a soloist with the San Diego Ballet, Ms. McPherson has originated numerous featured roles and has toured with the company throughout the United States. Known for her extreme flexibility and elongated lines, Ms. McPherson has danced as a featured guest artist with San Diego Dance Theater and has earned press features in the San Diego Union Tribune, KPBS, KUSI, Jazz Blues News, and the San Diego Reader. An adept administrator, Ms. McPherson also serves as San Diego Ballet’s Education Outreach Coordinator and Summer Intensive Administrative Director, successfully broadening the company’s outreach department to offer free and reduced programming to over one hundred classrooms in every city council district in San Diego. Her work directing San Diego Ballet’s Summer Intensive has generated interest amongst pre-professional ballet students all over the world, with dancers joining the program from Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, Canada, and across the United States.
Ms. McPherson’s love of performing is matched by her passion for arts education. She has served as a faculty member on a multitude of dance schools across San Diego, including Ballet Center West, Golden State Ballet and Pilates, The Movement, Metro Dance, and more. She both guest teaches and serves as a ballet exam juror for San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, where she is an alumnus.
In her spare time, Ms. McPherson volunteers as Co-Chair of Rising Arts Leaders San Diego’s Programming Committee, where she has conceptualized and spearheaded panel discussions addressing equity in the arts, particularly for emerging BIPOC arts leaders. Her work in the arts community is deeply influenced by her commitment to social justice causes including racial equity, feminism, and LGBTQ rights. Ms. McPherson is currently on the path to earn a Certificate in Fundraising and Development at UCSD and is elated to bring her knowledge, energy, and passion to the board of Teatro San Diego.
Theatre Advisory Council
Kevin "Blax" Burroughs
Artistic Associate of Theatre
Kevin “Blax” Burroughs is a PROUD African American Singer/Dancer/Actor/Director/Choreographer/Lighting Designer born and raised in San Diego, CA. He has been a Resident Choreographer & Resident Lighting Designer for two separate theatre companies in San Diego County for a total of 6 years (2014-2020). He has worked with companies performing, or as part as the creative team, such as San Diego Repertory Theatre, New Village Arts, Moonlight Stage Productions, Cygnet Theatre, UCSD, Southwestern College, San Diego Ballet, LEGOLAND California Resort, Lamb’s Players Theatre, Carlsbad Playreaders, Coronado Playhouse, The Barn Stage Company, Common Ground Theatre, Blindspot Collective, La Jolla Playhouse, Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, Old Town Temecula Community Theatre, ION Theatre, The 413 Project, Onstage Playhouse, Scripps Ranch Theatre, La Jolla High School, Marshall Middle School and his alma mater, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.
Blax started performing in the arts at a young age. He was one of the little kids in the church productions and local small family based theatre companies. He took a break from theatre and took on instrumental music playing the saxophone for 5 1/2 years as well as taking on choir training. Near the end of that time, he caught the bug for theatre all over again in 2010 in a memorable production of “Hairspray” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. With the help of his instrumental musicality and classical/jazz vocal training, he then turned his focus back into musical theatre in high school and graduated in 2013. The middle/high school he went to in Paradise Hills, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, was an arts based school in which he attended for 7 years (6th-12th). He was not blessed with the opportunity to attend a college to get a degree at the time so he immediately went into the theatre business as a performer and choreographer and never looked back. His career took off and he doesn’t regret anything.
Some of his favorite/notable roles as a performer include (Flick) in Violet, (Judas) in Jesus Christ Superstar, (Benny) In The Heights, (Seaweed) in Hairspray, (The Wiz) in The Wiz, (Enjolras) in Les Miserables, and others. Select Director, Choreographer and/or Lighting Design credits include Carrie, Legally Blonde, Grease, All Shook Up, Matilda, Next To Normal, In The Heights, The Addams Family, James and the Giant Peach, Little Shop of Horrors, Shrek The Musical, and others. Later in his career as a performer and choreographer, he taught himself to become a lighting designer via videos on the internet as well as other designers giving him tips and just overall practice from designing show after show. Notable thanks to his career from educators and personal influences go to The Burroughs Family, Bill Doyle, Erin O’Connor Fetters, Miss Leigh Scarritt, Gail McKinney, Javier Velasco, Justin Fry, Kristianne Kurner and the rest of the New Village Arts staff, Charles W. Patmon Jr, B.Slade, Timyra Joi and his other close loved ones.
Artistic Associate of Theatre
Chris has been singing since he can remember being forced to sing Karaoke at the many Filipino parties and gatherings. A lot of ABBA and Celine Dion, but even as a kid he loved every minute of it. Singing and Music has always been a part of Chris’ life, from doing Choir and Band from Elementary school to College and performing in his first musical his senior year of high school. His first show ever was Bye Bye Birdie and High School Musical and after taking his first bows in both shows he knew that being on stage and sharing a story to people is what he wanted to do with his life.
Chris Bona is a local Filipino-American performer living in Temecula, CA. Born in Manila, Philippines and lived and grew up in San Diego and Temecula. He has been performing professionally since 2013 after getting his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, CA. Chris has also worked all over Southern California and even Southern Utah and The Big Apple itself, NYC. Some theatres include The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Repertory Theatre, The Welk Resorts, San Diego Musical Theatre, New Village Arts, OB Playhouse, The Barn Stage Company, Premiere Productions, The 413 Project, Diversionary Theatre, Performance Riverside, Palos Verdes Performing Arts, 3-D Theatricals, Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins, Utah, and Feinstein’s 54 Below in New York City. Chris has also performed and worked at LEGOLAND California Resort and The Disneyland Resort. Aside from performing Chris has also directed and choreographed at many youth companies around San Diego.
Huge thank you to the following people. Mama and Papa, thank you for supporting and loving me unconditionally and knowing that I am happy and that I will always make you proud. Darian Archie, Bearnardo Manescalchi, Collin McCarthy, Paul Kehler, Derek and Megan Heid, Jillian Stones, every single teacher and professor I had at AMDA, you have taught me exactly how to be me and ended up finding myself in the process. TJ Dawson, Kristianne Turner, Leigh Scarritt, Katherine Harroff, Juztine Tuazon-Martin, Chris Gilbert, Michelle Ruiz, and to the many friends and colleagues I’ve met in this business, you are one in a million and I love you all.
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” – Dr. Seuss
Artistic Associate of Theatre
Dance Advisory Chair
Khamla serves as the Dance Advisory Chair of Teatro San Diego. Appointed May 26, 2020
Khamla Somphanh is a passionate teacher, educator and choreographer. Ms. Somphanh has provided classes at colleges, universities, high schools and world renown institutions such as The Kennedy Center and her choreography performed throughout the country. In addition, Ms. Somphanh currently holds the position of Artist-In-Residence at Canyon Crest Academy High School and Artistic Dance Lead for The San Dieguito Academy Dance Ensemble.
Her performing credits include ODC/San Francisco Dance Company, Wyliiams/Henry Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Na- Ni Chen Dance Company, East/West Repertory Ensemble, New World Dance Company, Soundance Dance Company, Malashock Dance Company, principal dancer for the San Diego Opera and and lead dancer, “Eliza” for the Broadway revival of The King and I on Broadway and 1st national touring company, where she also held the position of Assistant Dance Captain to name a few.
In addition to directing concerts of her own works, her choreography has been commissioned by LITVAKdance, San Diego Dance Theater, The PGK Project, Trolley Dances /San Diego, Visionary Dance Theater, Canyon Crest Academy and Malashock Dance School.
Ms. Somphanh graduated from Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School in Washington, D.C., received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s College of California and Horton Pedagogy Certification from The Alvin Ailey School in NYC.
Alyssa (Ajay) Junious
Alyssa Junious is an Artist, Educator, and Creator. She was born in San Diego, California and raised by two military veterans. She received her BFA in Performance and Choreography from the University of California, Irvine. At UCI she was able to study and train under living legend and world renowned choreographer Donald McKayle in his Etude Ensemble. After graduating, Alyssa began performing and choreographing throughout San Diego.
In 2015, she won San Diego Dance Theater’s “Audience Choice Award”. In 2018, She founded Continuum Arts and began to work as a freelance artist and choreographer. In 2019 she produced, directed and choreographed her first evening length show titled EMERGENCE. As a choreographer, Alyssa's work explores themes around the intersection of culture, identity, spirituality and social justice.
Her choreography blends diverse styles of movement to showcase the complexity in which the body can move. For the past 10 years, she has worked professionally in the commercial dance, concert dance and theater industry. Her professional credits include: Disneyland Resort, Entity Contemporary Dance Company, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Dance Theater (Trolley Dances), San Diego Musical Theater, PGK Dance Project Oceanside Theater Company, Legoland Resort, Disney’s ABC Christmas Special, Demi Lovato, Anika Noni Rose, and Cheryl Burke. To learn more visit AlyssaRJunious.com and @continuum.sd
Alyssa is a founding artist of Teatro San Diego.
Born in the Philippines, Mr. Zapanta moved to the United States at the age of one. He began training at Burbank School of the Ballet under Elizabeth Sutton. Mr. Zapanta has trained at a number of summer intensives including: the American Academy of Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, LINES Ballet, and Los Angeles Ballet Academy. He graduated in 2013 with a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of California, Irvine as a William J. Gillespie and Glorya Kaufman Scholar where he studied under David Allan, Donald Mckayle, and Jodie Gates. Zapanta has danced as a Soloist with California Ballet under the direction of Jared Nelson, as well as San Diego Dance Theater under the direction of Jean Isaacs, and at Malashock Dance under John Malashock. Zapanta has danced with the Traverse City Dance Project in Traverse City Michigan for 5 summers and recently toured with the group to New York City. Jeremy is a resident artist and choreographer at The Rosin Box Project and a founding artist of Teatro San Diego.
Marya Barragan is an interdisciplinary artist from San Diego. She began her dancing career at Southwestern College and in 2016, she graduated from the Professional School of Contemporary Dance in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Since 2011 Mayra has presented work in Mexico, California, Costa Rica, Spain, & Italy. She has been teaching for 10 years and specializes in the handling of energy, physicality, & the individual search of stage presence. Mayra currently trains in contemporary, breakdancing, calisthenics, & yoga and directs GATONEGRO, a training and research project in outdoor spaces that seeks to collaborate with children and teens to generate interest in movement from an early age. Mayra is a founding artist of Teatro San Diego.
Advisory to the Board
Alex Goodman (Managing Director, New Village Arts)
Anamaria Labao Cabato (Executive Director, Philippine Performing Arts Company)
Anthony Cafferata (AT&T Fiber Solutions, San Diego, CA)
Armando Catano (Teacher, San Diego Unified School District)
Bernardo Mazón Daher (Co-Founder, TuYo Theatre)
Chris Shin (Broadway: Mary Poppins)
Daniel Marshall (Artistic Director, La Diego Dance Theater)
Eddie Gutierrez (Choreographic Assistant to Baayork Lee)
Fadi J. Khoury (Artistic Director, FJK Dance)
Dr. Francisco Guajardo PhD (CEO, Museum of South Texas History)
Israel Palacio (CEO, Othentik Productions)
Kevin C. Patterson (Founder & CEO, San Diego International Fringe Festival)
Kristianne Kurner (Executive Artistic Director, New Village Arts)
Lizz Picini (Faculty, Broadway Dance Center)
Lorena Yee (Speech Pathologist, San Diego Unified School District)
Michael Berg (Farmers Insurance Agent, Lake Forest, CA)
Michael Pesko (Dancer: Radio City Music Hall)
Michelle Camaya (Broadway: Lion King)
Molly Smith (Artistic Director, Arena Stage)
Robert Meffe (Head of SDSU MFA Musical Theatre Program)
Roxane Carrasco (Theatre Chair, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts)
Stephen Brotebeck (Artistic Director, Okoboji Summer Theatre)
Steven Rada (NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom, The Gallery Players)
Victoria Andrea Guajardo (Artistic Director, Ballet Nepantla)