Celebrity guest artists include Broadway’s Ryan Vasquez who will perform an excerpt from Hamilton, and international star Vân-Ánh Võ, accompanied by the Blood Moon Orchestra, who created an original song—in English and Vietnamese—especially for SJMA’s 2020 Gala.
The Digital Dance Party features tutorials in the styles of Bollywood, K-Pop, and salsa—and includes a special dance-along flash mob with choreographer Jadell Lee. Your DJ for the evening is Tommy Aguilar, from San Jose’s Universal Grammar.
Veronika Agranov-Dafoe, Opera San José
Born and raised in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia, Veronika Agranov-Dafoe first studied piano performance at the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Conservatory of Music. In 2000 she joined the SJSU Opera workshop as a coach and pianist, and later started working at Opera San José, where she is now the Head of Music staff. Agranov-Dafoe is also the pianist for the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto.
Maria Basile, Sangam Arts, salsa tutorial instructor
Maria Basile is co-artistic director, choreographer, and performer for sjDANCEco. Basile is the recipient of several awards including 2010 Arts Council Silicon Valley Artist Fellowship for Performance, 2009 “Isadora Duncan Award” nominee for Best Performance, and 2014 Live Blessay award for Best Dancer/Actress from Bay Area Dance Watch. Basile has choreographed for Cabrillo Music Festival, Opera San José, Midsummer Mozart Festival, SJSU Opera Theater, Mission Dance Company, among others. She has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and throughout the US as well as Mexico and danced with Spector Dance and Move Speak Spin, ODC, Ann Bluethenthal & Dancers, Limon West Dance Project, and World 50th Anniversary Tour with the Limon Company.Basile teaches dance at SJSU, De Anza College, San Jose City College, Mission College, West Valley College and holds a BS in Dance from University of Oregon.
Blood Moon Orchestra is a genre-bending musical collaboration featuring Vietnamese classical instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Võ and rapper DEM ONE. In addition to recording and performing, the Blood Moon Orchestra facilities workshops to teach Bay Area youth about the power of creative expression.
Thomas Ramon Aguilar aka Chale Brown is a Bay Area influencer and tastemaker as a cultural and music curator, event producer, and as a DJ. He co-founded the marketing collective Universal Grammar (UG) which cultivates culture and celebrates the authenticity of the arts in the greater Bay Area. UG is a boutique production house that presents quality artistry and emerging contemporary voices in music. An ambassador for modern cultural creativity, UG’s curated offerings reveal a devotion to authentic artistry that both challenges modern convention and respects its given craft.
Deerhoof is an American independent music group formed in San Francisco in 1994. It currently consists of founding drummer Greg Saunier, bassist and singer Satomi Matsuzaki, and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez. Beginning as an improvised noise punk band, Deerhoof became widely renowned and influential in the 2000s through self-produced albums that combine "noise, sugary [pop] melodies, and an experimental spirit into utterly distinctive music," writes Heather Phares, Deerhoof | Biography.
Srividya Eashwar, Sangam Arts, Bollywood tutorial instructor
Trained in Bharatanatyam and Folk Dances of India, Mosaic Fellow Srividya Eashwar founded Xpressions Dance in 2003 to promote the traditions of Indian Folk Dances and train a new generation of dancers. She is known for her unique and creative choreography that blends tradition with innovation to help connect with diverse audiences. In addition to Folk Dances, Srividya also trains her students in semi-classical, Bollywood, and fusion dance styles. Xpressions has been awarded and recognized at many local competitions and performed at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival for 3 years. Xpressions conceptualized and co-produced FolkSi—the first Folk Dance Festival in Silicon Valley in March 2018, featuring more than 150 artists from local dance groups in the Santa Clara County.
Running Gao is an accomplished hip-hop and Kpop dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She was recognized as Most Popular Dance Instructor from 2017 to 2019 by A2S International Educational Association. She has served as Dance Director for A2S Annual Gala for 3 years and has choreographed for the largest Chinese Singing Competition ZGZG 2018, Mid-Autumn Gala 2019, China Spring Festival and many other events.
Lauded for her vibrant voice and exciting characterizations in repertoire from the Baroque to the modern, soprano Maya Kherani returns to Opera San José as a 2020/21 Resident Artist. She received First Place and Audience Favorite at the James Toland Vocal Competition, and two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Jadell Lee is an active dance educator, touring adjudicator, published author, and professional speaker who brings a fresh perspective of life to audiences across the country. He enjoys constantly feeding his creativity through leadership seminars, personal development, and growing in his artistry for dance. Lee is the Assistant Director of CRU Dance Competition, touring faculty for conventions such as Thrive Dance Experience and Creations Dance Championships, a guest master with both the Abby Lee Dance Company and SimmaDance’s, Simma Masters Series. Lee holds a BA in dance with a focus on experimental and unconventional choreography from the University of California, Riverside.
Jason Lewis graduated from the classical percussion program at SJSU with a BA in music. Lewis has taught privately in the Bay Area, coached at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, performed clinics at schools throughout San José area, and is a lecturer in the Jazz Studies Department at SJSU. Lewis has played with a variety of talented musicians, the San Jose Symphony, and San Jose Civic Light Opera. He has toured and recorded with Boz Scaggs, Michael Brook, Djivan Gasparyan, Ann Dyer, and Taylor Eigsti. He can be heard on numerous recordings as well as TV (Spark on PBS), and movie soundtracks (Affliction, Albino Alligator, Ratatouille,) and has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien (with Boz Scaggs).
New Ballet is a full-time ballet company and the Official Ballet Company of the Hammer Theatre, offering a full season of ballet in San Jose, California. Company Artists represent exceptional professional talent and perform in New Ballet productions which have been described by critics and audiences as “inspired,” “entertaining,” and “woke.”
Saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan is a musician and educator born and raised in the Bay Area. He is co-leader of the San Jose based jazz, funk, and R&B group The Bad Ones and has recorded and toured Asia as a member of the South Bay jazz “supergroup” SJZ Collective. Pangilinan has performed with a variety of Bay Area based musicians. An active educator, he works as a woodwind instructor with the Alum Rock Jazz Band and as a staff member with San Jose Jazz Summer Jazz Camp and Progressions. Pangilinan was named a 2020 SVLaureate by Silicon Valley Creates.
Dalia Rawson is the Artistic and Executive Director of The New Ballet Studio Company and The New Ballet School - San José. From 1991–2006, Rawson performed a wide variety of leading roles as a dancer with Ballet San Jose. Rawson began teaching at BSJ School in 2000, and was named Ballet Mistress in 2007, Principal in 2012, and Director in 2014. In 2013 Rawson was awarded a Fellowship from the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet. An ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum, Rawson is also a member of the ABT Artistic Board of Examiners. In 2016, Rawson’s production of The San Jose Nutcracker premiered to sold out houses and critical acclaim.
Brian Sheu is a St. Louis-born, San José raised session guitarist who plays funk, fusion, hip-hop, rock, and jazz. He plays locally with The Bad Ones, The iLLiance, SSB, and No Water After Midnight. Sheu is the producer, editor, arranger, and mixing engineer on all current SSB albums. Sheu graduated from the Musician’s Institute in LA and resumed his studies at SJSU. After graduating with a BA in music, he was hired by Ubisoft SF to work on Rocksmith 2014 DLC, transcribing music and designing levels for musicians of all levels.
San José-born, New York-based actor, currently in Hamilton on Broadway. Vasquez is the first actor to play all the roles of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, on Broadway or elsewhere. For more info visit ryanvasqueznyc.com.
Based in San Francisco, an internationally renowned performer of the 16-string đàn tranh (zither) and Emmy award-winning composer, Võ has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Yo-Yo Ma. She has presented her music at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center (2012, 2014, 2016), Lincoln Center, NPR, Houston Grand Opera, Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center, and others. For more info visit vananhvo.com.