Tiśina Parker (“Tish-ee-na”) is a California Native Community Arts Activist and Designer from the Central Sierra Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute tribes from her grandfather’s side and Kashia Pomo from her grandmother’s tribal lineage. Tiśina was born and raised on her tribal land – the Sierra foothills of Yosemite, California. Growing up practicing her traditions, ceremony and immersed in her Native culture, Tiśina cultivated a rich sense of her Indigenous self through her heritage, the wild, majestic beauty of her homeland and her tribal community. As a descendant from a long lineage of notable historic and contemporary California Basket weavers, Lucy Telles & Julia Parker, Tiśina’s artistic inspiration and design aesthetic is greatly influenced by connections to her strong, Indigenous heritage. Tiśina is a clothing/textile designer, youth mentor, crafts person, dancer and life scholar. She holds a BA in Community Studies and Arts Education from UC Santa Cruz and a BFA in Fashion Design from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Tiśina works professionally in community arts activism and organizing as well as fashion, costume and textile Design in San Francisco and wider Bay Area.
Ursula Carrascal Vizarreta of Peru is the Director of Minaq Ecodanza, an organization working in creating environmental awareness through movement, therapy and visual arts. As a journalist, choreographer and ecologist she has worked over 20 years creatively promoting sustainable livelihoods in more than 20 countries, mainly in Peru where she is based. Since 1998 Ursula has been working with Shipibo Conibo indigenous community creating contemporary movement sequences related with climate change and cultural heritage. Her performances rescue the freedom and creativity of the indigenous children being badly influenced by the urban cities and living with poor conditions due to the loss of their lands, safe water and forest. Most of her students do not have access to an inclusive education.
For years, Ursula has helped to mobilize thousands of people over Peru to restore water sources and wildlife from human activities. Then, many of her visual, therapy and dance projects promote the environmental empathy working with grassroots communities and performing in polluted areas. Most of her choreography includes the use of debris from beaches. She has also worked with children and women from rural Andean communities impacted by lead/sulfur pollution. Ursula has a Masters in Public Politics, Gender and Society. She is currently Vice President of Vida – Instituto para la Proteccion del Medio Ambiente and she is studying two post grades in Inclusive Education and Psychology and Education.
Maria Montejo, Deer clan, is a member of the Jakaltec/Popti (Mayan) community of Indigenous people who reside in the Xajla territory of Guatemala. Maria has been mentored from a young age by various Elders, Medicine people and Traditional Teachers on Turtle Island and from Central and South America. Maria has had the privilege of being exposed and participating in various ceremonies and traditional cultural practices that have fueled her passion to develop programming that will bridge the allopathic model of wellness and an Indigenous/multi-dimensional approach.
Raven Bright – a Dine BBoy recruited from Four Corners area
Heryka Miranda – Mestiza (Guatemala – USA, residing in Ontario, Canada) is an alumna who was our first international Cultural Artist Ambassador in 2013 who brought land dance practices that she learned from her time with Dancing Earth to Niagara Region migrant farm workers of Southern Ontario, Canada. Through the methods of land dancing and dance therapy practices, Heryka’s research explored the experiences of Mexican and Guatemalan migrant farm workers’ participation in a series of
“dance for relaxation” community art sessions that she designed and led that included the co-creation of ‘The Sunflower Man’ – a dance piece based on the life of migrant farm worker Juan ‘Luis’ Mendoza de la Cruz and his 25 years of working on Canadian farms. Through the power of land dance and accompaniment, Luis was able to find his voice and use dance rehearsals and public performance opportunities as forms to resist precarious working conditions and as a platform to increase migrant worker visibility and advocate for migrant justice. The work is featured in a documentary by Toronto-based, Colombian filmmaker Monica Gutierrez. Heryka works for a community food centre where she runs community kitchens and raises consciousness around food justice.
Trained as a cultural worker and grassroots organizer, Fabiola Torralba, engages art making as a transformative practice for building community, civic engagement, and social-cultural awareness. Her research explores intersectional politics, decolonial epistemologies, and (im)migrant identities. They enjoy facilitating dance making opportunities for movers of all backgrounds and interdisciplinary collaborations that explore the intersection between performance and action.
Tenihkie Brant is our media Research Assistant, who belongs to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Tenihkie is a member of the Bear clan. He received training in Sound/Set/Costume design at York University in Toronto, Canada. He was the set designer on a production of Brébeuf’s Ghost, which was directed by Yvette Nolan at York University. He has since moved on to being a digital illustrator, video editor, amateur animator and voice actor. He currently manages his own entertainment channel on YouTube.
Julia Miller-Vasquez is of mixed blood, and carries traditional medicines from about a dozen different cultures, some are her own and some she has been adopted into through a traditional lineage as a culture bearer. Her background is in musical theater, sports movement, meditation, and medical anthropology. She is a singer, dancer, director, model, poet, medical and religious anthropologist, sound healer, curandera, experience designer, mindfulness program developer and environmental activist. Just has been creating and producing shows, leading artist collectives and coaching performers for almost a decade internationally, and in major cities throughout the US. Much of Julia’s work in medical anthropology has been with refugee and otherwise underserved communities and companies, while her sound healing work incorporates traditional vocalizations and lyrics, original lyrics and melodies, soundscapes and electronic music production.