DANCE: What We Do
The Dance Company aims to curate the works of San Diego BIPOC choreographers with high caliber dancers from all over the country. It is our hope to someday hold residency in the city of San Diego, we will primarily be a touring repertory company in order to raise the exposure of San Diego dance artists around the World. It is our belief that San Diego's BIPOC majority should be represented in the dance community both on stage and behind the scenes.
On June 28th 2020 a group of dancers gathered at a private dance studio, hosted by Nico DeJesus. The meeting took place in San Diego, CA in the neighborhood of Encanto at 4:08pm Pacific Time. The following were in attendance:
Julio Catano, Khamla Somphanh, Mayra Barragan, Nico DeJesus, Kimi Parker,
Arianna Salerno, Jeremy Zapanta and Ryan Burtanog.
This would become the first of a series of labs which added participants: Alyssa Ajay Junious, Ron Davis, Kevin Belisario, Hannah Pritchett and Lizz Picini. These dancers were a mixture of Broadway, Alvin Ailey, Philadanco, Ballet Hispanico, Sidra Bell NY and ODC/Dance performers and local award-winning choreographers.
During the Fall of 2020 the company would film a series of short films launching its first campaign, We Are Here. The first project would be phrase work created by the Dance Advisory Chair Khamla Somphanh, performed by Nico DeJesus and Jeremy Zapanta. The second video would be a work by resident choreographer Alyssa Ajay Junious, created for the Lux Art Institute. The third and fourth works would be solos by resident choreographers Jeremy Zapanta and Nico DeJesus.
On February 15, 2021 dance classes commenced fully online in order to supplement funding for the creation of the dance company. Classes would be offered tuition free to students from Title 1 schools that qualify for free lunch and to the Kumeyaay Nation, in order to promote Indigenous representation in the fine arts. The faculty comprised of Valerie Salgado, Julio Catano-Yee, Nico DeJesus, Sara Erickson, Camille McPherson and Kimie Parker.
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 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. Alyssa is a founding artist of Teatro San Diego. To learn more visit AlyssaRJunious.com and @continuum.sd
Alyssa (Ajay) Junious
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.
Julio Catano-Yee 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 worked with many 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. Julio is a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Actors' Equity (AEA).