Musical Director, Batalá San Francisco
Sonia D. Pina
Born in Havana, Cuba, Sonia D. Pina has been involved with music and percussion her entire life. Under the tutelage of her father, a professional musician, Sonia began her studies at music conservatories in Cuba at a very young age. When she immigrated to the United States eleven years ago, she continued to study percussion but her professional focus veered toward production and sound engineering. Since graduating from Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, Sonia has been working as Audio Engineer and Producer of BAMM Latino. She is a skilled percussionist on instruments ranging from timpani to timbales, and some years ago became interested in Brazilian music. Sonia began playing with Batalá San Francisco from its inception, and as Musical Director brings her extensive knowledge of music and skills in percussion to the company.
Artistic Director/Co-Founder, Batalá San Francisco
Deborah Valoma is an artist, professor, and chair of the Textiles Program at California College of the Arts, where her specialized field of research, writing, and teaching is the cultural history of textiles as a global aesthetic practice. In addition to teaching courses on textile history and theory, she has written articles on related topics and recently published the book Scrape the Willow Until It Sings: The Words and Work of Basket Maker Julia Parker. As the Artistic Director of Batalá San Francisco, Deborah is responsible for all visual arts related to the company, including website and graphic design. As a trained dancer with more than ten years of performance experience with Bay Area ethnic dance companies, she is also responsible for teaching choreography and refining movement and styling.
Production Director, Batalá San Francisco
Jennifer Piehl is an anthropologist and academic editor with extensive practice, teaching, and publishing experience in the fields of social, biological, and environmental science and policy. Her specializations in Mesoamerican archaeology and bioanthropology led her to spend more than a decade participating in and directing archaeological projects and guiding sustainable tourism development in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. She first encountered percussion music of the African diaspora in these countries and in New Orleans while conducting graduate work. Upon returning to her native San Francisco Bay Area, Jennifer was delighted to encounter a sister form of musical expression in Batalá San Francisco. As Booking Director, she is responsible for securing and managing the group’s performances and helping to guide its establishment within and support of the Bay Area’s diverse communities.