FIRST WAVE ALUMNI ARTISTS

Born in Snohomish Territory (Everett, WA) raised in Tscha-kole-chy (Whidbey Island, WA) and Duwamish Territory (Seattle, WA) SI DÅKO'TA ALCANTARA-CAMACHO’S ancestry is Chamoru (Songsong Tomhom Manggåffan Che’ yan Songsong Mongmong Manggåffan Eggeng) and Ilokano (Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines). A graduate fellow at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, dåko’ta is one of Guåhan’s most creatively fierce activists innovating creative pedagogies for Chamoru empowerment. A nationally competitive slam poet, and a First Wave Hip Hop Scholar at University of Wisconsin-Madison, dåko’ta pursues creative forms of community mobilization igniting audiences with a passionate connection to indigenous issues. In 2011, dåko’ta co-created specialized coursework with professors at the University of Guåhan supporting the creation of the Chamoru Studies Department, and was an official delegate to the Government of Guåhan at the 2012 Festival of the Pacific Arts in Honiara, Solomon Islands. dåko’ta’s work has been presented in festivals and venues across the country. Since 2008, dåko’ta’s creative expression of Chamoru activism has been seen on the cover of Colors NW Magazine and the International Examiner. dåko’ta wrote and performed Buried Beneath: Bombs and Låtte a hip hop theatre piece premiering in California, Michigan, Saipan, Washington, and Wisconsin. dåko’ta’s released an album called All Life Is Sacred part of an interactive workshop curriculum raising awareness for Our Islands Are Sacred campaign, and taught workshops activating Taotao Håya values at universities, high schools, and community organizations across the country. Currently dåko’ta is revitalizing Lukao Fuha a ceremony honoring the creation stories of the Chamoru alongside an international network of Chamoru artists and activists.

CAMEA DAVIS is a gifted educator, spoken word poet, and community organizer. Camea began her work as a youth poet in inner city Indianapolis by creating a positive venue for youth vocal expression where none existed. She is the co-founder of the Outspoken Youth Open Mic that has been in existence for seven years. She is also the co-founder of the Indianapolis based youth slam poetry after school program Indy Pulse. Camea earned her Bachelors of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she excelled as a scholar and student artist as a member of the prestigious First Wave Hip Hop Theater ensemble. As a member of First Wave, Camea toured both nationally and internationally presenting spoken word and her one woman show titled Langley Street. Later, Camea took her impactful spoken word to the inner city classrooms of Indianapolis as a member of the national Teach for America program. Camea continues her work as a middle school English teacher today. She infuses her classroom with culturally relevant pedagogy and Hip Hop poetics. As an educator and a scholar, Camea is working to ensure that curricula is reflective of and effective for ALL students in our nation. She earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Marian University. Camea is currently a graduate student at Ball State University pursuing a PhD in Educational Studies with a focus in issues of equity and diversity. She is a current recipient of the highly competitive Gates Millennium Scholarship.

KELSEY PYRO is from St. Paul/Minneapolis Minnesota. She is multifaceted artist specializing in songwriting, spoken word poetry, b-girling, and Hip-Hop theater. In undergrad she was awarded a full scholarship to participate in the First Wave Hip-Hop program at University of Wisconsin Madison. Her performances have been viewed nationally and internationally. She presented on noted platforms like the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway and TEDx AIU in Antalya Turkey. She currently resides in New York City developing art and mentoring youth at the Harlem Children’s Zone.CHRISTIAN ROBINSON better known by his stage name Rich Robbins, is a hip-hop recording artist out of the west suburbs of Chicago (Oak Park). Raised in Philadelphia, Rich began his career as an emcee upon returning to Chicago at the start of high school. In 2012 Rich was accepted into the 6th cohort of First Wave, a full-tuition hip-hop scholarship to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. As an emcee, music engineer, performing poet, and actor, his art is a means of finding legitimacy in a world he has yet to obtain a stable sense of self within. It is the performance narrative of a young man who has a home in both urban and suburban communities, thus Rich’s art is a means of bridging those two worlds together. With his scholarship and future degree in English/Creative Writing under his belt, Rich uses his education to inform his art. Over the last two years he has performed at historic venues such as The Apollo Theater (NY), The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, along with opening for performers such as Saba, Mick Jenkins, Sasha Go Hard, Klassick, and more. On March 19th he will be releasing his debut album, Nimbus, under his pseudonym. The album features a heavy Chicago influence as it features many known and upcoming Chicago artists along with production from a collective of Midwest producers.


FIRST WAVE STUDENT ARTISTS

JOHN PAUL ALEJANDRO is a first-generation Filipino American poet, dancer, scholar, and activist. Born in Los Angeles, Philippines and raised In Newark, CA, John Paul experienced the difficulty of sustaining the Filipino, and American cultures into one. At a young age, he was very interested in the social relationships between minority groups- his observations were expressed in the form of Art; through the art of dancing and spoken-word John Paul ignites awareness by story-telling accounts of his life and social observations in hopes that audiences are uplifted and become activists themselves. He currently studies Communication Arts and Dance in UW-Madison. He is part of First Wave’s 7th cohort.

T BANKS a graduating senior from Madison, WI. He is pursuing a BA in English - Creative Writing. Most of T's work centers around the intersections of spirituality, sexuality, mental illness and blackness. T has mentored young poets over the last seven years and plans to continue work with youth after graduation. T also advocates for those with mental wellness challenges and hopes to foster programs that center around mental wellness support for the Black community. 

PAULA ANDREA BOLANDER, better known as LaLa, is originally from the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. She began performing as a child with the Pros Arts Payasos Kid Circus, and developed her art further after being nourished by Kuumba Lynx, RadioArte, and Yollocallí’s mentors and spaces. A member of First Wave’s 5th Co, LaLa’s art is rooted in accessibility and honesty, coupled with curiosity and discovery. She challenges boundaries of ‘singular’ and ‘universal’, whilst seeking the guidance of nearby spirits. LaLa creates art across many mediums because she finds herself most satisfied when art meets art, producing new and exciting relationships.

NATALIE COOK is a writer, performance artist, and community organizer. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, she founded Atlanta Word Works at the age of 16 so that young people in the city could have a safe space to express themselves through creative writing and spoken word poetry. She is a graduating senior from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is double-majoring in English (Creative Writing) and Afro-American Studies. Natalie is also part of the 5th cohort of the First Wave program, as well as a Gates Millennium Scholar. Upon graduation, Natalie plans to return to Atlanta... And take over.

AJANAE DAWKINS is a First Wave Scholar pursuing a double major in communication arts and creative writing, and a certificate in black women's studies. She is a performance artist who uses her poetry to explore blackness, womanhood, and the effects of trauma. She has performed and competitively slammed across the country, published, and built curriculum to facilitate workshops that encourage literacy. Outside of her art, she is also passionate about healthy hair and skin care for black women and understanding different cultures, religions and languages. Next year she will be studying abroad in Barcelona and Capetown.

GARRETT PAULI is a Sophomore at UW-Madison from Phoenix, Arizona currently majoring in Sociology with an ILS certificate. Garrett is a poet and dancer who uses an introspective lens to examine interracial relationships, white privilege, and standards of masculinity. Garrett’s identity as a lower class white man from a multicultural family informs Garrett's ability to creates multimedia projects that fuse unique perspectives to harbor critical dialogue. Skeletons of Silence is his first official project.

ZHALARINA SANDERS is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying psychology and is a member of the First Wave Hip-Hop and Urban Arts Learning community. She serves as co-founder and Executive Director of The JVN Project, a student-led, student-oriented organization that seeks to use Hip-Hop as a tool of empowerment. Its initiatives aim to cultivate the artist, academic, and activist in all people using various forms of the expression. Currently, The JVN Project has partnered with the Madison Metropolitan School District to bring a workshop series entitled One Life to each high school in the Madison area. This afterschool program teaches Creative Writing and Music Composition with the objective of improving academic trajectory through affirmation, belonging, and performance. The JVN Project is also the host of the annual Hip-Hop festival "JVN Day" that occurs every August in Madison. It has been said that through these efforts she has kept bright the light that is John Vietnam. Under the mentorship of Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Steven Quintana, Zhalarina conducts research as a McNair Scholar on the effects of using Hip-Hop as a psychosocial intervention for promoting the academic success and well-being of underrepresented students. She plans to pursue graduate study in developmental and psychological sciences with a focus in counseling psychology. She also serves as the TEENworks career organizer at the Goodman Community Center of Madison, and serves as an executive board member of the Multicultural Student Coalition. As an artist, she has had the opportunity to travel and be awarded for her work as an emcee, actress, and poet. Appearing on stages such as the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, Broadway in New York, NY, and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in London, England as part of the 2012 Olympic's Cultural Olympiad. This one-woman show Rose Gold will be featured in this year's Line Breaks Hip Hop Theatre Festival on Thursday, March 12, 2015 in the Overture Center of the Arts. Rose Gold explores the tragedy of Black motherhood and the glory of its daughters using media such as poetry and rap. Please stay following tonight’s showing for a special talkback with Ms. Sanders.

JOSEPH VERGE is a 20 year old transfer student from Detroit Michigan, and now here at the UW-Madison as an English/Creative-Writing major.