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Teaching Artists

At the start of each academic year, LEAF Schools & Streets works to match available Artist in Residence, Resident & Easel Rider Teaching Artists with community centers and after-school programs for year-round programming. Teaching Artists work with youth, teaching them their performing art through rich, hands-on learning experiences that culminate with an opportunity for youth to perform on-stage at LEAF, or complete a final visual arts project, as well as other performance and workshop opportunities throughout their individual communities.

Easel Rider – Asheville’s Mobile Art Lab – is all about connecting people and art, and that’s exactly what these Teaching Artists do! Today, LEAF has a growing roster of 10+ Easel Rider Teaching Artists that facilitate a visual art project related to the theme of the community event or cultural art craft. Easel Rider Mobile Art Lab is used in many different capacities: after-school programs, community functions, specific school activities, outdoor activities & camps – reaching roughly reaching roughly 3,623+ youth at over 170 events in 2019.

Edwin Salas

Mexican Puppeteer, dancer and plastic artist

Madison Link

LEAF Vendor Co-Director, Realtor

Tarah Singh

lighting designer, stylist, consultant, chef, welder, painter, mother

Marsha Almodovar

Mother, Teacher, Painter, Entrepreneur and Activist

Jenny Pickens

Artist & Muralist

At the start of each academic year, LEAF Schools & Streets works to match available Artist in Residence, Resident & Easel Rider Teaching Artists with community centers and after-school programs for year-round programming. Teaching Artists work with youth, teaching them their performing art through rich, hands-on learning experiences that culminate with an opportunity for youth to perform on-stage at LEAF, or complete a final visual arts project, as well as other performance and workshop opportunities throughout their individual communities.

Want to Empower Youth
through Cultural Arts Education?


Former LEAF Schools & Streets Resident Teaching Artists

Amy Hamilton, Artimus Pyle, Asheville Urban Arts Institute, Ben Gradison, Bobby Fish, Christine Garvin, Dave Hamilton, DJ Kutzu, Dominique Scales, Edward Link, Edwin Salas, Erinn Hartley, Gary Bradley, Graham Hackett with Catalyst Poetix, Hunab-Kru, Imhotep, Ingrid Johnson, James Nave’, Jeanette Zwieg, Jeff Knorr, Jess Wharton, Jonathan Santos, Jon Cooley, Katie Oaks, Kelly Hanson, Kenya Webster, Kuumba Zuwena, Larissa Lopez, Lisa Abeling, Lola York, Lyric, Melanie MacNeil, Melina Palumbo, Michael Hayes, Nadirah Rahman, Nina Ruffini, Teren Gaskin, Ryulee Park, Skyler Goff, Kylie Irvin

LEAF Schools & Streets has a long legacy of talented teaching artists who have helped shaped who we are, where we’ve been, and have helped pave the way for where we may go.  We are forever grateful for their contributions and we honor them as an integral part of our organization.

Adama Dembele

Adama Dembele is a master djembefola (djembe player) from the Ivory Coast, West Africa. Born into a family of musicians, he has toured several continents with various major acts such as Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Affou Keita, Sogona Djata and many others. Adama has played in several drum and dance companies such as Yelembad’abidjan, Ensemble Koteba, Congoba and many more. In 2002, in collaboration with Siriki Sanogo, Adama founded Djembeso CI Drum and Dance Ensemble. “Djembeso” in the West African dialect Bambara means “the house of djembe.” Adama chose that name because his family has been playing the djembe for 33 generations and his native home was known as the house where the djembe is played. In 2005, Adama moved to the U.S. to perform and teach the sacred art of West African drumming. Since then he has played in major cities all over the United States. Currently, Adama resides in Asheville, NC, where he frequently performs and teaches authentic rhythms from Ivory Coast, Mali, and Guinea, West Africa.

Otto “Aquaboogy” Vazquez

Otto is an internationally acclaimed Broadway dancer, instructor,
choreographer & street dancer. Aquaboogy (who honed his craft in Miami & New York) has stellar credits: Pitt Bull, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, i-Luminate from America’s Got Talent, Diesel NYC, Dr. Pepper’s 2013 “One in a Billion” Nat’l Commercial, toured the world with the Broadway Series show, “Break, The Urban Funk Spectacular”, Cirque Du Soliel, Donald Trump, Run DMC, VH1, MTV, The Heat, The Knicks etc. Aside from an impressive dancing career, Otto enjoys teaching the trade to others, and leads workshops on dance with his wife, Jessica, around the nation – teaching about the history and culture behind hip-hop dance.

Ersel “Garfield” Bogan 

Ersel Bogan III, also known as Garfield, was born and raised in the 9th ward of New Orleans.  He’s a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School as well as the New Orleans Center For Creative Arts (N.O.C.C.A.) where he studied Jazz and Musical Theory.  Garfield is known as one of New Orleans most soulful trombonists. He is one of the original members of The Stooges Brass Band, where he spent 20 years of his musical career. While in the Stooges he had a chance to work with a lot of major artists such as DJ Manny Fresh, Timberland, Busta Rhymes, Ray Charles, Jessica Simpson, Mystikal, Fantasia, and many more. Garfield also produced music for major networks such as ESPN, BET, MTV, and Red Bull and was the house band for Sunday’s Best, Super Bowl XLVII, and the New Orleans Hornets. He debuted in season 1 of TREME’ and The Originals. Garfield also is an original member of the Free Agents Brass Band which is a brass band created after hurricane Katrina, the first brass band back after the storm to start gigging while a lot of other bands and their members were still scattered around the world. This lasted until The Stooges came back to New Orleans. The most recent band Garfield played with is Sporty’s Brass Band in 2018 to help cultivate newer talent. He also started a funk band called Cloud 9 Music.

Garfield is the founder of Save Our Brass Culture Foundation and New Orleans Original Brass Fest LLC. Save Our Brass was formed to help preserve and save the New Orleans brass band culture. New Orleans Original Brass Fest launched its first festival in March of 2019, in the Historical Armstrong Park in Congo Square. This is an annual event hosting New Orleans Favorite Bands such as the Hot 8 Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Big Sam Funky Nation, Stooges and many more.

Agustin Frederic

Influenced by the vibrant and diverse musical traditions of his home-country of Costa Rica, Agustin pursued an education in music, social behavioral sciences, and jazz studies in Florida, catapulting him into the world of musicianship. He is a performer, touring and recording drummer and percussionist, sound engineer, music producer, and composer, with esteemed credits across the United States. As a percussion teacher, Agustin’s mission is to awaken life, positivity, and joy. Agustin accesses his extensive repertoire of knowledge and skill in drum set, orchestral percussion, hand drums (Latin, African, Middle Eastern), marching and rudimental percussion, percussion ensemble, and Brazilian percussion to custom tailor programs that cater to the needs and goals of the individual or group. No matter the aim, percussion’s global roots can offer a direction.

Info Coming Soon
Melissa McKinney
Info Coming Soon
Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith began filmmaking as a teen, where she quickly came to love the medium for its cross between creative potential and technical challenge. Her first project at Carleton College, was a multiple award-winning documentary about four goth teens in Northfield, MN. She immersed herself in the collaborative potential of movie production and taught both as a college student. Her work has been screened twice on PBS, San Francisco & Ft. Lauderdale film festivals, and in the Walker Art Center’s Independent film series; she built a production studio in Key West and used it to make documentaries and commercials. She currently teaches both live-action and stop-motion film to kids of all ages.

Irvegg Romero
Breakdancer and djembe player with more than 2 decades of experience in breakdance.  Students will will learn the basics to breakdancing.

The incomparable and uber-talented Chinobay is a Ugandan musician and Educator who has led workshops, camps, and residencies worldwide. He is the founder and producer of Dance of Hope, Africa’s leading youth-based arts education program that allows youth from vulnerable communities to lead music and dance workshops, extended residencies, while connecting with global communities through cross-cultural experiences. While his music may at first seem foreign, Chinobay illustrates the shared roots of global musical styles with those of his native Uganda and its surrounding regions of Africa, highlighting the history and connection Africa has with the rest of the world. He has visited hundreds of schools, colleges, and learning institutions to introduce Africa’s history, music, and culture to students in classroom settings.

Preservation Hall All Stars

This legendary band was grown out of a fabled NOLA venue, a place steeped in history. Preservation Hall is known for supporting the unique culture of traditional jazz in New Orleans, which developed in the local melting pot of African, Caribbean, and European musical traditions at the turn of the 20th Century. Preservation Hall was a rare space in the South where racially-integrated bands and audiences shared music together during the Jim Crow era. At the center of that family business, the owners, the Jaffe’s, became involved in the southern Civil Rights Movement (and were even persecuted) as heads of an integrated venue in a time of cruelly-policed racial segregation. For more info about their fascinating history, visit their site at: www.preservationhall.com


Atiba Rorie

Atiba Rorie has been playing percussion instruments since he was a young child. Pursuing his passion, he earned a BA in Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In addition to UNCG, Atiba has also studied with masters such as Babatunde Olatunji, Fahali Igbo, Bradley Simmons and Chief Bey. Further studies have found him working with The National Dance Ensemble of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, and a one-month intensive study in Guinea, West Africa. He has taught at Winston Salem State University and is currently in the Music Department at Guilford College. In addition to teaching, Atiba is an accompanist in the UNC Greensboro Dance Department. Rorie is the founder of the acclaimed international multi-genre band, Africa Unplugged. Besides leading his own band, Atiba has worked with many professional ensembles, performing at countless venues, including Dance Africa in New York, Tedx Greensboro, National Black Arts Festival, Black Dance USA, and two Presidential Inauguration Celebrations. In 2005 Rorie was invited to participate in a Drums of Passion Tribute to Babatunde Olatunji at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference. He has been a guest artist at CaldCluegh Community Center, Duke University, High Point University, Agnes Scott College, Williams College, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Black College Dance Exchange, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Radford University.

American Patchwork Quartet 

This NYC-based group is on a mission to reclaim the immigrant soul of American Roots Music. Grammy-nominated vocalist Falu Shah, Grammy-winning guitarist/vocalist Clay Ross, 3x Grammy-winning drummer Clarence Penn, and highly acclaimed bassist Yasushi Nakamura showcase the dynamic diversity of contemporary culture by reimagining timeless songs from America’s past. APQ draws on a repertoire of centuries-old American folk songs that highlight America’s immigrant roots. They showcase America’s dynamic present by combining the diverse talents of four U.S. citizens, each with a unique cultural background. In this quartet, old songs are made new through creative arrangements that highlight the exceptional and well-honed skills of each band member. APQ performances strive to counter pervasive prejudices around the issues of race and immigration. In order to help strengthen our country’s social fabric, APQ desires that audiences reflect on the notion that, as Americans, we must acknowledge our differences to discover our commonalities. We must recognize the realities of racism and prejudice in order to build authentic and lasting bonds across cultures and color lines. While we are not responsible for our country’s past, we are accountable for its future.

Chief Shaka Zulu
Info Coming Soon

We appreciate your interest & passion to be a LEAF Teaching Artist!

If you would like to be Resident Teaching Artist, please CLICK HERE!

If you would like to be an Easel Rider Teaching Artist, please CLICK HERE!

If you’d like more information on being a LEAF Teaching Artist in general, please CLICK HERE!