JOHANNA DE LOS SANTOS, FOUNDING DIRECTOR
Johanna De Los Santos (BA-University of Wisconsin, Latin American Studies, MA-New York University-Latin American and Caribbean Studies) has dedicated over 20 years of professional work, community volunteerism and academic study toward using the integration of Latino/Latin American/Caribbean studies and general creative arts & media to advance inside-out personal and community development. Since 2007, she has been Executive Director of the New York City-based youth development non-profit, Art Start, that uses the creative arts to connect with historically marginalized youth.
IMANI JALIL, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, DANCE DIRECTOR
Imani Jalil was born and raised in Milwaukee. She began her dance training at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts. After graduating from RMSA, Imani became a dance major at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, before continuing on to UW-Milwaukee where she went on to earn her B.F.A in contemporary and African dance, with, dance study abroad in Brazil, where she studied many forms of Afro-Brazilian dance and movement. She has performed with the African dance company, Ko-thi Dance Company, under the direction of founder Ferne Caulker-Bronson, and Panadanza Dance Company in Milwaukee, a group that studies and performs traditional dances from all over Latin America, and has performed at the Panama Salsa Congress. Imani has been teaching with Bembé since 2016.
bony plog-benavides, percussionist, musical director
Bony Plog-Benavides is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, where she studied with Cuban percussionist Fran Calzadilla. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a concentration on Percussion Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where she studied with David Bayles. In May 2008, she finished her Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology at Arizona State University. Her thesis research focused on the popularization of Gaita Music, a musical tradition of Northern Colombia. While at ASU, Mrs. Plog-Benavides studied with African music scholar Mark Sunkett and renowned drummer Dom Moio. In addition to her work at Bembé, Mrs. Plog-Benavides currently teaches for Milwaukee Public School as a Percussion Traveling Music Teacher as well as at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Concordia University as a Percussion Instructor.
Carlos Adames is a widely acclaimed percussionist known for his explosive soloing and inventive conga patterns, and a composer, arranger and educator who has worked professionally all over the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Mr. Adames was born into a musical family that inspired him and helped shape him as a musician. Carlos earned his Bachelors Degree in Percussion at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes of Mexico, as well as with world known percussionists such as Alex Acuña, Endel Dueño, Jesús Alfonso Miró, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Lamim Thiam, and many others. During his coursework to becoming a Master Percussionist he received conservatory training in Colombia, Brazil, Cuba and Veracruz, Mexico. He has additional acredidation in Planning and Evaluation of Musical Education from the Instituto Veracruzano de las Artes Hugo Argüelles, Mexico. Mr. Adames has taught music education and percussion to students of all ages, from elementary to college and Master level at: Mozart's Gym Academy, Milwaukee, WI; Universidad Cristobal Colón, Veracruz, Mexico; El Instituto de México, San Antonio, TX; North West Vista College, San Antonio, TX; Palo Alto College, San Antonio, TX; Oldenburg Universität, Oldenburg, Germany; and Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Mexico.