Below are some of the wonderful teaching artists who have worked with us in recent years.  They come from many disciplines — theater, dance, storytelling, music, visual arts — but all have in common incredible training and experience, the joy of working with youth, and the belief in the transformative power the arts for all peoples’ lives.

Robert Shampain is Founder and Executive Director of the 30-year-old BAYFEST Youth Theatre program. He has taught and directed theatre training programs with major companies around the US and UK for over 35 years, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute in New York, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, Boston University, Catholic University of America, University of Southern California, Clwyd Youth Theatre, Tyne Youth Theatre and Seattle Children’s Theatre among many others. He has worked as a professional stage actor and director around the US and UK, as well as having acted in many TV and film projects. He sits on several Educational Equity teams in Seattle.

Etienne Cakpo is director and lead choreographer of Gansango Music and Dance Company. Cakpo is an award-winning professional dancer, choreographer and musician from Benin, West Africa. He teaches and performs traditional African dance from Benin as well as contemporary African dance styles and has been building his dance repertoire for over thirty years. Skilled in both traditional and modern dance styles, Cakpo lives to dance. He teaches African dance classes at Open Flight Studio in Seattle and performs locally, nationally, and internationally. Cakpo was the Kawasaki Guest Artist at the UW Department of Dance for the 2018-2019 school year, where he continues to teach. He has worked with BAYFEST since 2018.

Donte Felder is the founder and Executive Director at South End Stories, where they focus on “Trauma Informed Arts Practice: Healing Through History and Creativity”. Donte is a former SPS educator and has been the recipient of WEA’s Humanitarian Award as well as Washington’s Golden Apple Award. Donte comes from a family of seasoned educators, and community leaders focused on pursuing social justice by developing anti-racist and anti-oppression practices in schools and communities. 

Keni Cohen is an accomplished director, actor, mime and educator who has worked all around the US and internationally. Most recently he worked with Seattle Children’s Theater (SCT) for nineteen years, where he directed eleven summer season shows and taught hundreds of workshops in public and private schools as part of the SCT Outreach Program.

Sumayya Diop is a dancer, actress, drummer and choreographer who is a specialist in Afro-Carribean dance and other ethnic dance and movement formats. She has taught for Arts Corps, Creative Schools Initiative, The Creative Advantage, Spectrum Dance Theatre, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Centrum Arts, and at many other schools, community arts organizations and theatre companies. She trained at the Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Teaching Artist Training Lab and Seattle Central College. She offers residencies through her company Sumayya Diop Drumming and Dance. She has been working with BAYFEST since 2018.

Roger Fernandes is a Native American artist, storyteller, and educator whose work focuses on the Puget Salish tribes of the western Washington region. He is a member of the Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe and has a B.A. in Native American Studies from The Evergreen State College and a Master’s Degree in Whole Systems Design from Antioch University. He is an accomplished Coast Salish artist creating art and designs and teaching about this cultural art style. As a storyteller, he shares traditional myths, legends, and tales of tribes from tribes across the region. In sharing these stories he gives philosophical insights to the beliefs and customs of the Native people. Native people call their stories ‘teachings’, as they are the fundamental way of teaching children. He believes deeply that all stories speak the same human language and teach the same lessons. He teaches at the University of Washington and does frequent collaborations with other artists and groups, including BAYFEST, with whom he has worked since 2017.

James Howard trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and has been a professional actor for 18 years. He made his stage debut in “The Duchess of Malfi” for the Royal National Theatre in 2002. James has also worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Donmar Warehouse in the West End, and currently in the London original production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” at the Palace Theatre, playing Draco Malfoy. He was a member of the BAYFEST Summer Youth Ensemble in 1995, and became a member of the BAYFEST summer program teaching staff in 2020.

Aishé Keita – Seattle, Washington: Aishé is a teaching artist, actress and storyteller. She is based in Seattle but has been on stages throughout the US. She was last seen at The Guthrie Theater in “Familar“ and then followed that performance with the world premier performance of “Reparations“, by Darren Canady at Langston Hughes performing center. Aishé received her degree from Cornish College of the Arts and since has been back as professor for the first year BFA acting program . Aishé is very excited to have been working over the past year with BAYFEST and with students on celebrating their personal magic.

Cyrus Khambatta is the founder of Khambatta Dance Company in Seattle. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts in Dance and Theatre, his choreographic works have been presented all over the US and around the world. He received California’s Damen New Choreography award and was selected for the 2004 National Dance Project/New England Foundation for the Arts Regional Dance Development Initiative as well as a 2006 Artistic Leadership program through Dance USA funded by Paul G. Allen Foundation. His work with KDC has been supported by numerous funding and government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, including the National Endowment for the Arts and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. He is also the Artistic Director of the Seattle International Dance Festival, Beyond the Threshold which partners with Cornish College of the Arts and other organizations to present over 100 national, international and local artists each year. He first taught with BAYFEST in 1999.

Fern Naomi Renville is a Native American storyteller performer and director who has worked with Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre and began working with BAYFEST in 2019.

Paul “Che oke ten” Wagner is an internationally performing presenter of traditional songs and stories of his Coast Salish tribal ancestors. Che oke ten is a member of the Wsaanich (Saanich) Tribe of southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. An award-winning Native American flutist, his songs have come to him with visions of healing and prayer for all relations (tree people, animal people and human people). In addition to his performing and recording work, he teaches workshops on drum making and flute playing. He also makes Coast Salish form wood carvings, and is a videographer and photographer of Nature’s phenomenal spiritual gifts.