Performance Project

Artists of the African Diaspora

Origins, Immigration, Creation

Diaspora Performance Project gives professional support to 6 selected cultural artists. Our program, launched in 2018, seeks to support our thriving community of Artists of the African Diaspora and provide opportunity for the development of new work, deep and meaningful connection to our community, and performance opportunity. 

Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center (TWDCC) has made it a priority through our mission to sustain a dance and cultural space that supports Santa Cruz and Bay Area professional artists, and specifically, artists who have left their country of origin or have second and third generation immigrant experiences that inform their work directly. This support is done through offering affordable dance space to teach out of, curating performance opportunities that present the work, encourage further development of the form, and provide opportunities for a new generation of students to learn from these artists.

Weekly Diaspora Performance Project Classes

Adult Classes are drop-in only, and may be cancelled on short notice. Please call TWDCC at (831) 332-1398 to confirm a class is happening. Plan to arrive early to assure your spot, to fill out the TWDCC Waiver, and so your teacher can start their class on time.

Adult classes are drop in only and take cash. 

Classes can have irregular schedules.
Please click here to be redirected to our Adult Class page to check for cancellations.

DPP class ads (7)

About the Diaspora Performance Artists

Arnaud Loubayi

Arnaud Loubayi is from Brazzaville, Congo, where he started his artistic career. He took part in various courses and training in modern and contemporary dance with several choreographers. He toured with many companies as a solo artist, including National Ballet of Congo. He joined the traditional group Ngoma Za Kongo in 2006 as a choreographer and toured in many places in Africa, Asia, and America. With his experience as a dancer and choreographer, Arnaud Loubayi would like to introduce his style of arts and traditions of Congolese dance to America. Loubayi founded the dance company Bitezo Bia Kongo , now known as Gata Bantu, that consists of a group of Congolese drummers and dancers whose mission is to share the traditional music and dance of Congo. Loubayi is currently a partner artist for local cultural non-profit Cheza Nami Foundation's Cultural Arts and Learning (CAL) school assembly program as well as a contributing artist to the foundation's annual Taste of Africa Festival. He also works with Tandy Beal and Company, and Afro Urban Society of Oakland. Loubayi has also produced and promoted the Ha Mbongui African Dance and Drum Conference for the past five years. He has taught traditional Congolese dance around the country, including Santa Cruz, Oakland, Nevada City, Maui, Seattle, Encinitas, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Tallahassee, Philadelphia, New York and more.

Vivien Bassouamina

Vivien Bassouamina was born in Brazzaville, Congo where he was the lead choreographer for five different dance companies, one of which led to an international tour and brought him to San Francisco. He created a dance form called “tradi-modern,” a fusion of traditional Congolese dance with modern and contemporary dance. He currently teaches in Santa Cruz, CA and is a member of the Diaspora Performance Project under the auspices of the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center.

Oumou Faye

Shawn Merriman-Roberts

Ramon Ramos Alayo

Ramón Ramos Alayo is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and the founder and artistic director of Alayo Dance Company and CubaCaribe. He was selected by the Cuban government to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age eleven, which led him to earn a master’s degree in contemporary and folkloric dance and dance education from Havana’s Escuelas Nacionales de Arte. He was a principal dancer with Danza del Caribe and Narciso Medina Contemporary Dance Company, and has performed in Cuba, Europe, Canada, Belize, and the United States. Since moving to California, he has performed with some of the most respected choreographers in the Bay Area, including Robert Henry Johnson, Kim Epifano, Sara Shelton Mann, Joanna Haigood/Zaccho Dance Theatre, and Robert Moses’ Kin. Alayo currently teaches Cuban popular dance, Afro-Cuban modern dance, and children’s movement at several local dance studios and schools.

Past Diaspora Performance Project Events


The Tannery World Dance + Cultural Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is committed to equity, access and excellence in dance education and performance. Through our classes, scholarships, festivals and community events, TWDCC links artists, audiences and communities throughout Santa Cruz and the greater Bay Area.

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