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Theo A.

Executive Director
Oakland, CA, USA

Biography

Theo Aytchan Williams is a native of Oakland, California with Southern roots in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Theo was first introduced to African drum and dance as a child at Mosswood Park in Oakland, California. While tagging along with his mother, Cledie Watson, he heard the thunder from an African drum and dance class; saw people were dancing and that the room was filled with joy; joy and rhythms that would remain in his subconscious for many years. Coincidentally, this class was led by dance legend Ruth Beckford.

As a young student, Theo was active in sports, student activism and his Pentecostal church community. As a student at Skyline High school, Theo was ready to see new places and with the support of counselor Mr. Ralph Bianchi, was accepted into San Diego State University.

Theo began taking modern dance to fulfill a prerequisite from staff professor and Alvin Ailey lead dancer, the late Dr. Danny Scarborough. He rehearsed and performed with the class but never thought of dance as a profession. Theo relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to complete his undergraduate education at Clark Atlanta and this is where he was reunited with the drums that had haunted his subconscious for decades.
He began taking African dance with the Uhuru Dancers, Maya & Oginga and Waleed. He quickly became one of the premier dancers and met his most influential West African Dance instructor, Alseny Soumah from Conakry, Guinea.

After 10 years in Atlanta, Theo returned to Oakland to be closer to his immediate family. He was subsequently introduced to Brazilian dance and joined the award winning Carnaval group, Fogo Na Roupa led by Mestre Carlos Aceituno and Co-Director Regina Calloway.

Within one year, he was encouraged to compete for King of San Francisco Carnaval. Under the guidance of a few veteran dancers, Theo took the energy fostered during his Black College experience, his Pentecostal background of the Church of God in Christ and the joy of dancing to live Brasilian drums learned in classes with Fogo Na Roupa into the 2001 competition. On that breezy Sunday night in the San Francisco's Mission District at the Roccupulco Cub, Theo wowed the crowd with his energetic dancing, leaps and jumps. The veteran Carnavalescos on the judging panel unanimously selected Theo, King of San Francisco Carnaval 2001. Theo continued to dance Brasilian dance exclusively with Mestre Carlos and Fogo until 2006, when in the Fall, Mestre Carlos suffered tragic heart failure and unexpectedly transcended to a higher plane. Mestre Carlos was 46.

Four years later, Theo felt the heavy loss of dance and longed for the multi-cultural dance energy of Fogo, which he had regularly experienced on the second floor studio of the Malonga Casquelourd Center. While gazing on the empty dance floor, he pledged to rebuild Oakland's once vibrant multi-cultural dance experience and return the community Joy to 4pm Sundays at the Malonga. SambaFunk!'s first class was officially launched in February 2010.
Since the founding of SambaFunk!, Theo has remained active in the Arts community beyond Carnaval, as an artist, producer and advocate invoking the Arts in relevant political and social justice causes. Theo has traveled, studied and performed Brasilian dance and drum in Brasil, Canada, France and Guinea West Africa. As a student and instructor, he continues to learn the internal connections of African centered dance, movement, rhythms and spiritual psychology.
Theo's vision is to share African Diaspora culture through dance, drum and music with new audiences and to make conscious contributions to the theories that link African cultural traits and traditions to African-Latino, African-Caribbean and African-American cultures.