Jill Flanders Crosby is a professor and the dance program coordinator in the Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Alaska Anchorage. She holds an Ed.M and Ed.D from Teachers College Columbia University. She taught at the University of Ghana, West Africa and she has been an active performer and choreographer. Flanders Crosby received a 1998 Fulbright research grant for her work in Ghana and also traveled to Cuba to research the folklorization of traditional religious dance, the links between the Ewe people of Ghana and the Arará people of Cuba and elder oral histories in Perico and Agramonte Cuba. She is published in the journals Dance Research Journal, Etnofoor, Southern Quarterly and Material Religion. She has also contributed chapters to the edited books Making Caribbean Dance and Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches. She is the project director and lead investigator for Secrets Under the Skin.
Brian Jeffery is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at University of Alaska Anchorage, Jeffery has previously served on faculty at Northwestern University Chicago, Columbia College Chicago and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. As artistic director of XSIGHT! Performance Group from 1987-2002, Jeffery's vision of exploring the amalgamation of theater, dance and the visual arts has been consistently recognized by popular and critical acclaim. His work has been presented by cultural institutions throughout the United States as well as in Africa, Australia, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Jeffery's work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Artists Abroad, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and several UAA Faculty Development Grants.
Marianne M. Kim is a Korean American artist academic working in performance, multimedia installation, and video art. She received her M.F.A. from U.C.L.A's Department of World Arts and Cultures in 2004. She has toured nationally and internationally as a company member of various performance companies including XSIGHT!, David Rousseve/Reality, and Yu Dance Theatre. Marianne has presented her video work at festivals, galleries and performance spaces in Portugal, Hong Kong, Mexico, Toronto, Salzburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ontario, Cluj-Napoca and throughout the United States. She is currently an associate professor at Arizona State University's Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Program in the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies. She is a recipient of artist fellowships and commissions from EMPAC|DANCE MOViES, MacDowell Artist Colony, Illinois Arts Council, Jacob K. Javits Foundation, Chicago Artists Assistance Grants, Durfee Foundation, NEA/Dance USA, New Music USA (Meet the Composer), Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Scottsdale Public Arts Program to create new work.
Susan Matthews was born in Tucson and moved to Oakland, California at the age of five. She holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in Painting from San Francisco State University. She teaches drawing and painting at the College of San Mateo and at Maybeck High School in Berkeley.
Susan began her travels to Cuba as a student of percussion, attending summer courses at Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana from 1995 to 2000. She currently plays in a son/salsa band called Nuevo Mundo, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She has traveled widely in Mexico, Central and South America, Spain and Cuba, as well as Africa and Europe. Experiences in Latin America, Cuba and Africa have informed her paintings in recent years, and resonate with the cultural roots of the Oakland neighborhood where she was raised.
She has created an extensive series of paintings about Afro-Cuban music and folklore based on her musical studies in Cuba. Her images appear on album covers, book covers and websites around the world. Her work has been exhibited throughout California, Nevada, Alaska, Cuba, Chile and Ghana. Please visit www.SusanMatthewsGallery.com.
Roberto Pedroso García is a dancer who was born in Colón, Matanzas, Cuba. Since he grew up in a religious family, religion has always been a part of his life. He is currently a babalawo (priest of the mysteries of the Yoruba religion). He began his professional career in his native hometown and later danced in Havana with the Tony Menéndez company for two years. He later left dancing to dedicate himself to a religious life entirely.
Melba Núñez Isalbe graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in English language and literature in 1997. She was a professor of Spanish language and English lexicology and stylistics in the same University. In 2000 she started to work for the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematic Industries (ICAIC) where she is a translator, interpreter, assistant director and annotator.
JT Torres is a PhD candidate at Washington State University. His research focuses on the use of narrative and storytelling to enhance cognitive development. As a writer, JT often explores hybrid or fragmentary identities. He has firsthand experience of the confusion of such identities growing up in a Spanish family who refused to speak Spanish. His Cuban-born grandmother, who left Cuba for America, is the subject of his upcoming novella, which will be published by VP&D House as part of the Weathered Edge series. For JT, the use of creative nonfiction can provide a clear insight into the cultural underpinnings of identity. Believing that identity is a "man-made" construct in the way described by Stuart Hall or Edward Said, JT strives to know such a construct through aesthetic processes and literary representation. His other works appear in various literary journals as well as in Best Food Writing 2014. JT was born in Miami, FL. He left Florida for Alaska and in 2014 Jill Flanders Crosby took him all the way back home, and more. With his first trip to Cuba, JT officially joined Secrets Under the Skin. His hope is to represent the aesthetic experience of Arará using literary strategies such as memoir, metaphor, and cultural narrative.
* Banner image photographed by Odile Tevie