NAKA Dance Theater

About NAKA


The Company

Founded in 2001, NAKA Dance Theater creates interdisciplinary performance works that explore ritual, cultural studies, and contemporary socio-political and environmental issues.  Through dance, storytelling, multimedia installations and site-specific environments, NAKA builds deep partnerships with communities, engages people's histories and folklore and expresses experiences through accessible performances that challenge the viewer to think critically about social justice issues. Recent themes include: racial profiling and state brutality, genetic modification of native crops, the commodification of water, cultural colonization, and the human response to overwhelming disaster. NAKA brings together and creates rapport among diverse populations, encouraging dialogue and civic participation.

Since 2001, NAKA has created work involving members of the Latino transgender community, the local Mexican-American and Japanese-American communities, and San Francisco’s community of Argentine Tango dancers. From 2005-2008, we were artists-in-residency at ODC Theater. In 2006, NAKA was named one of the 25 to Watch by Dance Magazine. In 2007, we collaborated with visual artists from Eastside Arts Alliance, an organization of artists and community organizers of color in East Oakland to create the performance environment for The Revenge of Huitlacoche. That same year, NAKA was invited to present their work at the Hemispheric Institute on Performance and Politics' Encuentro in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2008 and 2014, we were chosen to be the San Francisco representative for SCUBA Touring Network performances in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Seattle. In 2010-11 we were Irvine Fellows at the Lucas Artist Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center.

In 2014, NAKA created The Anastasio Project, which focused on a community-based creation process. We partnered with Racial Equity Consultant Tammy Johnson, and hosted community forums with Public Defender Matt Gonzalez, activist Cat Brooks, and Border rights activists Mujeres Unidas y Activas to encourage community dialogue and civic participation.

In 2016, we created RACE: Stories from the Tenderloin, which deepened our relationship to Tenderloin residents and a robust network of artists, non-profits, and advocates who have long worked to support this community. The project created a continuing relationship with the Tenderloin National Forest and Anne Bluethenthal’s Skywatchers program which engages residents of Tenderloin SROs in the arts.

Our work has been presented by Dancers' Group's ONSITE, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, ODC Theater, the Queer Arts Festival, Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC), the Yerba Buena Choreographers Festival, California State University East Bay, the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center Performance Series, the Oakland Museum of California, and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.



Photo by Kim Anno and Kyung Lee

Photo by Kim Anno and Kyung Lee



Steven Sanchez (multimedia, documentarian) is a Chicanx activist-filmmaker who is dedicated to supporting social justice movements and building stronger communities through cultural work. While working at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles they led animation and documentary filmmaking workshops with local Raza youth. In Oakland, they have worked with a number of social justice organizations to produce videos that strategically benefitted their campaigns. Steven currently works at Eastside Arts Alliance where they document events, manage a digital archive, produce video curriculum, and create politically conscious short films. In conjunction with NAKA Dance Theater's The Anastasio Project (2014-2015), Steven shot and edited documentary videos about the community's experience with state brutality. They were also responsible for creating large-scale animation and video for the Anastasio Project and mentored aspiring filmmakers as part of the project. Steven has also collaborated with performance artist Dohee Lee.

Adria Otte is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and sound designer whose musical practice began with classical violin studies, continued as an electric guitarist in rock bands, expanded with free improvisation, electronics and traditional Korean drumming, and currently integrates all of the above. She recently received an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College and her current projects include sound design for dance, theater and video, and the electro-acoustic duo, OMMO.

David Molina is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, sound designer, music producer, and recording engineer. He has created music and soundscapes for theatre, video, film, dance, performance art, radio, television, installation, and multimedia productions for the past 20 years. His work in theater has allowed him to collaborate with companies across the country, and garnered him many awards, including an LA Ovation in sound design for Lydia, at the Mark Taper Forum (2009), and a Creative Capital Grant (2009) with his interdisciplinary troupe Secos Y Mojados. He frequently provides music for video installations by Cause Collective. In 2010 he began inventing instruments and interactive sound sculptures which are displayed at galleries and festivals, including a solo exhibit Transience: The Work of David Molina, at Asterisk Gallery SF (2013), and The McLoughlin Gallery (2015). As a musician he has performed throughout North and South America and his recorded music has been presented in Europe and Japan. He performs with Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids, and as Ackamoor/Molina Duo. The later has been commissioned by Gilles Peterson to create a new piece for the upcoming album "Havana Club Rumba Sessions-Remixed" . Molina's music and bands: Ghosts and Strings, Transient, and Impuritan are available on Resting Bell (Berlin,) Dorog Records (Peru,) Black Note Music (USA,) Distant Spore (USA,) or through his own D.I.Y. releases.

Scott Tsuchitani is a visual and media artist and doctoral candidate in cultural studies at the University of California at Davis.  More information at

Emelia Martínez Brumbaugh honors and hones the unknown for choreography of a more just reality. They meld critical inquiry & strategic thinking with play & ritual in their creative practice as a coach/consultant and project manager. They have supported several liberatory projects and organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including Physical Intelligence, Eye Zen Presents and Fierce Allies. Their commitment to creating platforms where creative practice and social renewal meet extends to their work as an educator, currently being contracted through LEAP: Arts in Education; a performer, their ongoing solo work, The Mouth, has been shown at Pro Arts Gallery, Temescal Arts Center (TAC), and will premier in new form this Fall at SAFEHouse Arts; and a creative collaborator, dancing with LXS DXS, a collective of 6 emerging artists from distinct diasporic heritages healing lineages in community, in movement, and in queer conspiracy.

José María Francos (lighting designer) has designed for opera, ballet and theater, including the Oakland Opera, Oakland Ballet, The Wallflower Order, the Dance Brigade, June Watanabe In Company, Ellen Bromberg Ensemble, Joanna Haigood’s Zaccho Dance Theater, Robert Moses’ KIN, Dohee Lee Performance Projects, Amara Tabor Smith  and Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater. He has received two Lighting Artist for Dance grants from Dancer's Group. He is also the Technical Director for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Kevin O’Connor is a multidisciplinary artist working as a choreographer, dancer, improviser, circus artist and installation artist from Ontario, Canada and now based in the Bay area. He is involved in a decade long artistic collective exploring participatory de-colonizing performances within polluted watersheds in Ontario. Over the last few years he has worked with NAKA, Shakiri and Skywatchers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Oncogrrrls feminist art collective in Spain, and collaborated with Inuit hunter and designer Paulette Metuq on a project in Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic. He has been learning with the axis syllabus community for over a decade and is a biodynamic cranial sacral practitioner. His current research examines anatomies, body performance capacities, interventions and imaginations in relation to science studies, including the becoming bio-capital, on fascia

Simone Nalls (performer-collaborator) has a BA in Africana Studies from San Francisco State University. She was born in San Francisco and raised in Oakland. Simone has worked at EastSide Cultural Center, where she was once a student, facilitating E.Y.G. (EastSide's Young Guards), a youth leadership program with a focus on social justice, police brutality, and third world influences. She is currently a graduate student at NYU studying Mental Health.

Hector Torres (performer-collaborator) is a student at the College of San Mateo, studying Multimedia & Film. He was an artist in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Young Artists at Work program from 2010-2012. He is a native of San Francisco’s Mission District and works as a gardener and landscaper with the Garden Project in the County Jail. He recently made his theatrical debut in Campo Santo’s “Nogales” at the Magic Theater.

Michael Turner (performer-collaborator) lives in San Francisco’s Bayview District. He was an artist in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Young Artists at Work program from 2009-2012. He enjoys performance, but sees visual art as his real love. Michael has been editing games and creating animation. He is currently a student at the College of San Mateo studying Graphic Design. He thanks his previous art mentors, who have inspired him to want to continue to be exposed to all kinds of art.

Ian Winters (Media artist, Isadora programming) is an award-winning video and media artist working at the intersection of performance and time-based visual media to explore the relationships between physicality, technology, and place. He studied video & performance at SMFA-Boston and Tufts University, with post-graduate training in architecture and dance. Recent awards include 2016 atlantic center master artist awards, 2013 residencies at Djerassi, Earthdance, Nexmap/CNM, 2013  ISEA-Sydney, ISEA 2014, a 2012 Leonardo LASER presenter, the 2012 and 2014 LAD prize for video design, 2012-3 Isadora Duncan Award nominations for best visual design along with funding from Zellerbach, Rainin Foundation, Clorox, Meet the Composer, CCI and others. He also serves as the co-curator of Richmond’s MilkBar.