2015 King & Queen Competition



Aleena Barrow (Queen)
Aleena has been participating in Carnaval since she was 6. She has danced with Fogo Na Ropa, then DaMidus, and Islands of Fire. Her mother, Ms Sweetwyne Barrow, was the first queen of Carnaval.

Adreina Maldonado (Queen)
Adreina was a sambaista for many years in Chicago. She also helped organize and direct the first Brazilian dance company in Bloomington, IN.

Shaunte Jackson (Queen)
Shaunte has been participating in Carnaval for several years. She has paraded with Sambada and Grupo Tania Santiago. Shaunte was awarded the first honorary mention for the National Queen of Raqs Sharqi Belly Dance Competition.

Tiombe Valone (Queen)
Tiombe has danced with Grupo Tania Santiago since 2009 and recently joined her dance company, Aguas. She started dancing at 2.5 years with Star Dance Studio. She will be partnering with R. Jefferson Joseph.

Laura Carolina Castellanos (Queen)
Latin American Workout
Laura has been performing in Carnaval for the last four years with Latin American Workout (LAW) and King Jamie Martinez. She is a certified Zumba instructor, performing exclusively with LAW.

Barbie Penn (Queen)
Muito Quente
Barbie is a third generation San Franciscan who has performed in Carnaval for the last two years with the Muito Quente Samba Performers. In addition to Samba, Barbie studies Hula and Tahitian dance.

Acacia Gonsalves (Queen)
Hurricane Samba
This is Acacia's third year competing in Carnaval San Francisco's King and Queen Competition. She has performed at the Samba Queen competition in Phoenix and studied with Grupo Samba Rio and Brasarte.

Tanilee Amor (Queen)
Tanilee has been participating in Carnaval San Francisco since moving back from Peru in 2006. She has studied extensively with Energia do Samba, Grupo Samba Rio, Aquarela, Fogo Na Roupa, Tambores Julio Remelexo, and SambaDa/Dandha da Hora/Yabas Dance Company. She is the artistic director and founder of Amor do Samba Entertainment, an AfroLatin dance company.

Rosa Maya Mohr (Queen)
Fogo Na Ropa
Rosa was adopted at age six from Brazil and her Carnaval experience began in 1999 when she first walked into Fogo Na Ropa's class at the Malonga Casquelourd Center. She has also danced with Ruben Aponte, Queen Maisa Duke, and performed at Miss Latina USA.

Nhia N. Younger (Queen)
Halima Mahdee / SambaFunk
Nhia danced with SambaFunk in 2012 and 2013, studying under king Theo. She has also trained in Brazilian, Haitian, and West African dance under her mother, Halima Mahdee. She is currently training in Modern, Jazz, and Contemporary at Skyline High School in Oakland.

Shaneeka Akemie Smoot (Queen)
Loco Bloco
Shaneeka has been participating in Carnaval San Francisco since 2011 with Loco Bloco. She has studied dance with Tania Santiago, Fogo Na Roupa, and Nkei Oruche.

Vanessa Carias (Queen)
Vanessa Carias Media Group
This is the second year that Vanessa is competing. She loves all different types of dance and music.

Anat Samash (Queen)
Anat has been teaching Rio and Afro-Brazilian dance styles for the past seven years and has participated in the Carnaval San Francisco parade for the past 22 years.

Juliano Wade (King)
This is Juliano's second year competing. He is a model, actor, and performer. He has performed at the Palace of Fine Arts, Yerba Buena Night Festival, and in short films.

Tory Teasley (King)
This is the second year that Tory will be competing. He danced last year with Samba Funk and has also performed with Rara Tou Limen. Tory is a former Arthur Murray instructor. He wants to show people that you can do anything at any age and at any size.

Cliff Magno (King)
Loco Bloco
Cliff is primarily hip hop dancer, whose styles include Vogue, House, and Street Hip Hop. He is currently training with Allan Frias and Mind Over Matter, Jessica Recinos and Rising Rhythm Project, Loco Bloco for Carnaval 2015, and Tania Santiago for the SF International Arts Festival.

Frederico Prato (King)
Aquarela Brazilian Dance Ensemble
Frederico has participated in Carnaval for many years, attending and/or participating in the King and Queen Competition, Carnaval Parade, Fat Tuesday.

R. Jefferson Joseph (King)
Jefferson has studied and performed Afro-Brazilian folklore with Tania Santiago, Afro-Brazilian Contemporary with Paco Gomes, and Cuban Contemporary with Ramon Ramos Alayo. He 2014 he traveled to Brazil with Tania Santiago and performed in Carnaval in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He will be partnering with Tiombe Valone.




Batalá San Francisco
Batalá San Francisco is a Brazilian percussion and dance ensemble that plays samba reggae, the popular musical genre of Salvador, Bahia. With five types of drums, Batalá San Francisco creates a powerful, dynamic sound that captivates audiences. You can find the group throughout the San Francisco Bay Area bringing the infectious joy of drumming and dancing to community events and charity walks, educational institutions and corporate venues, night clubs and private parties. Led by Musical Director Sonia D. Pina, Batalá San Francisco takes pride in being a truly diverse organization. They are a multi-generational, multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual group of drummers from all walks of life—united by a love of drumming.

CUICACALLI “House of Culture” is a year-round youth training program, Founded in 2008 by renowned international performer Jesus “Jacoh” Cortes, CUICACALLI is an international, cross-cultural, dance-arts educational institution. CUICACALLI carries strongly its mission: to serve the diverse community of San Francisco with dedication towards excellent instruction, performances and community programs, for intergenerational students, artists and audiences of all backgrounds. CUICACALLI builds communities through dance – expanding, exploring and celebrating the cultural traditions of the Americas.Self expression, confidence enthusiasm, discipline, focus, cooperation, teamwork and positive attitude are amongst the life qualities encouraged in all CUICACALLI classes.

Rueda Con Ritmo
Rueda Con Ritmo is co-directed by Ryan Mead and Sidney Weaverling. The group performs original choreographies that incorporate Cuban and Miami-style salsa, rueda de casino, son, cha-cha-chá, mambo, comparsa, and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. True to its name, the group has developed a unique, highly musical style that fully embodies the polyrhythms and accents of the music.




Maria Medina Serafin
A bilingual performance poeta, percussionist, recording artist, former radio show producer and bilingual storyteller who brings poetically rhythmic heartbeat to her stories about life and living as she plays her congas. She has an impressive performance history of music, theater, and literary performances from San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Washington D.C., Asheville N.C., and back to the Bay Area again. She is a featured artist in the recordings: "Fiesta Musical" and "A Child's Celebration of the World" and as guest artist on Johnny Conga's "Caribe Plus Roots of Rhythm" and South Florida's Historical Museum recording "Caribbean Percussion Traditions in Miami." She has been seen and heard at New York's Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the Miami Power Studios, The Diaspora Vibe Gallery, Tobacco Road, to San Francisco's "Word Party" at Club Deluxe, The Beat Museum, "Poema de Mujer" and "Luna Negra" at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and as an M.C. for the center's "Corazon del Barrio" as well as San Francisco's Carnaval Tropical.




Elizabeth Soberanes
Elizabeth Soberanes started her dance journey at Rhythm and Motion Dance Center in 1985 and holds a BA in Dance Ethnology from SFSU where she earned an Award for Academic Excellence and Professional Promise. She has studied Dunham Technique, Afro-Haitian, Brazilian, Cuban, Modern, Capoeira, Hip Hop and Jazz Dance. In 1989 she participated in her first Carnaval with Escola Nova de Samba and since then participated several years as dancer and eventually Assistant Director for Ginga Brazil Carnaval Group. For over 20 years, she has worked as an arts educator, administrator and producer for prominent organizations such as Performing Arts Workshop, World Arts West, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnaval San Francisco. A former Carnaval Queen, she has performed with several local ethnic dance companies and currently performs with the Arenas Dance Company directed by Susana Arenas Pedroso. She has toured Brazil and Cuba to study dance and participate in their Carnaval celebrations, and has traveled to New York, Miami and Puerto Rico to study dance, fitness and attend Salsa Congress workshops. In November 2009, Elizabeth was privileged to travel with Carnaval King Miguel Mendoza to Tokyo, Japan to model for a motion captioning project resulting in a Latin Dance video game by LandHo Productions.


Elizabeth taught Fusion Rhythms Dance Workout for 10 years and in October 2008 created Latin Dance Grooves as a way to share her love of Latin dance with others in a welcoming and inclusive environment. In 2009, she started LDG Carnaval Contingent as a result of the students' desire to participate in the SF Carnaval Parade. The group quickly became an Award-Winning Carnaval Contingent. working with many talented artists. LDG's Elizabeth Soberanes and Bianca Coleman proudly mentored an impressive 5 Carnaval King and Queen Winners during their first five years as a Contingent. In January 2014, Elizabeth started the Latin Dance Grooves Performance Ensemble to prepare dancers to perform in the community. Since its inception, LDG Ensemble has performed at the SF Carnaval Festival, SF Pride Festival Latin Stage, La Fusion Latin-Global Convergence, at fundraisers at El Rio and Cesar's Latin Palace, the Miami Salsa Congress, Bay Area Cuban Arts Festival and the SF Salsa Rueda Festival.

CK Ladzekpo
CK Ladzekpo is the director of the African music program at the University of California at Berkeley. He has combined a brilliant career as a performer, choreographer and composer with teaching and extensive scholarly research into African performing arts. He is a member of a famous family of African musicians and dancers who traditionally serve as lead drummers and composers among the Anlo-Ewe people of southeastern Ghana in West Africa. CK Ladzekpo has been a lead drummer and instructor with the Ghana National Dance Ensemble, the University of Ghana's Institute of African Studies, and the Arts Council of Ghana. He joined the music faculty of the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 and remains an influential catalyst of the African perspective in the performing arts. In 1973 he founded the critically acclaimed African Music and Dance Ensemble. As the company's artistic director, choreographer, and master drummer, he has led in many pioneering African dance and polyrhythmic percussion ensemble music presentations at major venues in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has been artistic director of the Mandeleo Institute in Oakland since 1986. CK Ladzekpo's modern concert stage rendition of Atsiagbeko, a traditional war dance drumming suite of the Anlo-Ewe is one of the features in the television documentary "African Dance at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival" which continues to be a popular broadcast since its national premiere in 1988 on PBS. CK has received a number of awards for his work including: National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship (1988-1989); Irvine Choreographer's Fellowship (1999); and Ruth Beckford Extraordinary People In Dance Award (1999). CK has been a member of the faculty council of the East Bay Center for Performing Arts (Richmond CA) since 1974. He is currently the Artistic Director of the Ethnic Dance Festival.

Umi Vaughan
Umi Vaughan is an artist and anthropologist who explores dance, creates photographs and performances, and publishes about African Diaspora culture. He has conducted extensive anthropological research in Cuba about AfroCuban music and dance, and created numerous scholarly presentations, art exhibits, and cultural events in the U.S. and abroad. He holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan. His photographic work has been commissioned for the permanent collection of Alameda County and the City of Oakland. Dr. Vaughan is the co-author of Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá: Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum (Indiana University Press, 2012) and the author of Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance: Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba (University of Michigan Press, 2012). An essay based on his original research, "Timba Brava: Maroon Music in Cuba," is featured in the edited volume Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World from University of Michigan Press (2010). Vaughan is currently Associate Professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay. He created an innovative new course called Afro Cuba Hip Hop: Music and Dance in the Black Atlantic about the social history and actual practice of music/dance styles from throughout the African Diaspora. Umi also drums with Batala.

Portsha Jefferson
Portsha Jefferson is the founder and artistic director of Rara Tou Limen (RTL), an arts organization that presents Haitian music, dance & culture through classes, workshops, and performances. Ms. Jefferson was a principle dancer and vocalist with Blanche Brown's Group Petit La Croix and has performed with Reconnect, Ase Dance Theater Collective, Feet of Rhythm and El Wah Movement. In Haiti, she has had the privilege to perform with Compagnie Culturelle Des Arts and Ayiti Dans Ansanm (ADA).


Ms. Jefferson's dedication and exploration of Haitian culture have brought her to Haiti, where she has traveled throughout the country to research regional dance, rhythms and musical traditions since 2003 and has studied in Gonaives at Lakou Badjo, and at Tanp Souvenance Mistik. Further training at Ecole Nationale des Arts (ENARTS), Vivian Gauthier's School of Dance, and Artcho Danse, provided a rich foundation into the Folkloric aspect of Haitian culture. Lynn Coles, Blanche Brown, Peniel Guerrier, Cadet Jean Evens, Emmanuel Louis, Metayer Frantz, Ramses Pierre, Lee Hetelson and Daniel Brevil, among others have played a key role in her artistic growth.


Currently, Ms. Jefferson is an Adjunct Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts (CCD) and is an artist in residence for Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and SF Unified School Districts. She is an instructor at East Bay Dance Center, Dance Mission Theater and the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. She also serves as a Cultural Arts Specialist with Oakland Parks and Recreation.

Norberto Martinez
Norberto was born in Mérida, Yucatán, México. He trained in Modern Dance and Classical Ballet, Mexican Folk and Character Dances. Norberto is a costume Designer for many local dance companies in the Bay Area. He has performed professionally in Europe, South America, México and The United States. Recent companies/productions he has performed with include Ensambles Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco, Pure Dance Company, Folklorico Atlatonin, Imperial Silence by John J. Leaños, Presidio Dance Theatre, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Folklorico Esperanza, Collage Dance Ensemble, Grupo Andanza, Bay Pointe Ballet, Compañia Mèxico Danza, and others. He has taught at ODC, Mission Cultural Center, and other