February 24-25th, 2017

Counterpulse Theater, San Francisco

Bay Area Artists and Activists come together for 3 days of performances, workshops and panel discussions!
This three-day community art event features workshops, panel discussions, performances, and visual art focused on art and social justice. Theater artists, dancers, musicians, visual artists, and poets will share their work in evening performances, while facilitators, activists, and educators will host workshops and panel discussions during the day. Blessed Unrest aims to raise awareness about the power of art to advance the cause of social justice by bringing artists into conversation with each other, local activists, and the public.



Performances, 8pm
Marvin K. White, Delina Brooks, Keisha Turner, Spulu, Sammay Dizon, Closing Drumming Activation by Afia Walking Tree

Post Performance Reception with Artists
Visual Art by Feldsott
Workshop 11am-2pm

Dance as Moral Action with Nicole Klaymoon
This workshop is rooted in a reverence for each individual’s untamed and distinctive artistic expression and will emphasize the cipher (free-style circle) to initiate the raw energy of street dance culture. This workshop offers inventive maps to support artists in honing the core inquiries that drive their individual dance-making practice and deepen their understanding of dance as activism.  

Nicole Klaymoon is Founder and Artistic Director of the Embodiment Project (EP). Dance magazine contributing editor Rita Felciano called Embodiment Project one of the Bay Area’s, “ten companies and artists who challenged expectations and unveiled surprises…in 2012.” The San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote that Nicole Klaymoon’s signature work House of Matter, “(w)as one of the most rocking and joyous dance shows to hit the town in a long time.” She has performed in dance works directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Rennie Harris, Sean San Jose, Amara Tabor-Smith, Meredith Monk, MariaGellespie, Annie Rosenthal-Parr, and Anne Bluethenthal. As a solo performer, Klaymoon created the dance theater production, Sixth Vowel, choreographed by Rennie Harris and directed by Kamilah Forbes of the New York City Hip HopTheatre Festival. Miami New Times art critic Chuck Strouse wrote “Nicole Klaymoon’s Sixth Vowel was THE BEST small theatrical production I have seen in this city in a decade.” She is currently a resident artist at the ODC Theater a recipient of the Headlands Center for the Arts residency and the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundation's Commissioning Choreographers Award. Klaymoon has collaborated with G.R.A.C.E. Africa in Kenya performance intensive centered around the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which was sponsored by and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Deadalus Project. Klaymoon currently teaches a company technique class at Dance Mission in San Francisco, and is on faculty of the Performing Arts department at USF, Marin Academy High School and ODC Dance School. She received a B.A. in Dance from UCLA and an M.F.A. from the California Institute of Integral Studies. 

What is the role of arts and activism in the Trump era and how can we move our work forward? 
Performances, 8pm
Embodiment Project
Detour Dance

Zulfi Bhutto
The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women

Theater Movement International
Thrive Choir

"Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it"
~ Bertolt Brecht

Special Thanks to the Zellerbach Foundation & CA$H Grant for making this festival possible



Afia Walking Tree, M.Ed - Educator, Facilitator, and Ritualist, Afia Walking Tree, M.Ed is a world-class cultural ambassador, spiritual activist, empowerment guide, leadership development advocate and trainer. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Walking Tree’s drum-songs are prayers of gratitude for the generosity of spirit. Her lyrics are evolutionary teachings, addressing present day issues of social justice, freedom, healing and self-love. For over 25 years, Afia Walking Tree has served her destiny as visionary director of her brainchild, Spirit Drumz, an international organization that prioritizes women and youth of all cultures to utilize African Diasporic song, permaculture, drumming, dancing, storytelling to activate empowerment and healing. Afia's work has always been rooted in liberation of the global Black Family and in the last two years, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Afia has created new spaces for Black healing and activism through the Jamaican Drum Retreats for Womyn, and #BlackPowerDrumMedicine. Afia's continued evolution is supporting the growth of the drumming arts as a tool for activism, healing and community building through partnerships with One Billion Rising, Echo Valley Farms, Open Meadows Foundation, and many others. Afia has been blessed to bring her powerful work to Bioneers , Northern California Permaculturre Convergence, TEDWomen 2016 and numerous, festivals, non-profit organizations, and universities across the globe. 

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is an artist of mixed Pakistani and Lebanese descent he sees his body caught in the middle of complex identity politics formed by centuries of colonialism and exacerbated by contemporary international politics.  In his work he explores the politics of queerness, its intersections with Islam and how it exists in a constant liminal and non-aligned space. He is also interested in issues of state violence and how that violence resonates in our collective memory, how it forms and shapes communities and by extension how it affects the individual

Detour Dance

Directed by Kat Cole and Eric Garcia, detour dance is a performance company that creates nuanced, uncompromising and relevant performance and film. The company collaboratively devises new works that promote, support, and empower artists, queers, and people of color. detour dance  premiered their newest work FUGUE in December2017.

Embodiment Project

Embodiment Project is a San Francisco Bay Area based street dance theater company founded by Nicole Klaymoon in 2008. Quickly gaining critical acclaim, EP seamlessly intersects high-energy street dance, live song, choreo-poetry, and theater. Dance magazine Contributing Editor Rita Felciano called Embodiment Project one of the Bay Area’s “ten companies and artists who challenged expectations and unveiled surprises…in 2012.” The San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote that Nicole Klaymoon’s signature work House of Matter, “(w)as one of the most rocking and joyous dance shows to hit the town in a long time.” EP has produced home season shows of original works to sold-out audiences for the past six years in San Francisco. The company has been awarded an artist residency at the ODC Theater, Intersection for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, and Destiny Arts Center.

Marvin K. White is a Masters of Divinity student at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. He is also a seminary intern at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, and the author of four collections of poetry published by RedBone Press; Our Name Be Witness, Status and the two Lammy-nominated collections last rights and nothin’ ugly fly. As a community-based artist, he is articulating a vision of social, prophetic and creative justice through being a black poet, artist, teacher, facilitator, activist, community organizer, preacher, homemaker, cake baker, and Facebook statistician.






SAMMAY is a choreographer/producer and interdisciplinary performing artist of Kapampangan, Ilokano, and Bikol descent. She defines her body as a vessel for spiritual intercession and envisions a future in which our indigenous traditions co-exist with(in) our urban landscapes. SAMMAY is the founder of URBAN x INDIGENOUS: an inter-generational multi-disciplinary arts festival based in (SOMA) San Francisco/Ohlone Territory. She has been featured through Diego Rivera Art Gallery, Red Poppy Art House, Dance Mission Theater’s D.I.R.T. – Dance In Revolt(ing) Times Festival, and A/P/A Institute at NYU among others.

Her desire to discover global bodymindspirit connections and uncover the secrets left behind by her ancestors has led her to Brazil, Canada, Cuba, and Hawai'i. SAMMAY recently returned from a solo immersion tour in her ancestral land (Pilipinas) where she taught workshops in various communities (Manila, Baguio, Iloilo) and performed an excerpt of her latest work, silbihan. She is also a part of the intercultural contemporary artist      collective, I Moving Lab, led by Jack Gray. SAMMAY is a two-time recipient of the “Presented by APICC” Artist award, APAture 2016: Performing Arts – Featured Artist, and Performing Diaspora 2016 Artist-in-Residence at CounterPulse. To follow her journey, visit

SPULU is a Choreographer and Teacher and has performed on video's, Televisionand lives on major stages in the Bay Area, Southern California, Las Vegas, Utah, and New York City. He is a honorary member of the Zaccho Dance Theatre Company and House of Prolific.  He is member of San Francisco Rising Rhythm Project and Urban X Indiginenous. He is also a community organizer, activist, spiritual healer, and Pacific Scholar. SPULU studied Dance at San Francisco State University with a focus in Race and Resistance Studies. He is currently working at City College of San Francisco Student Supporting Student Center and the Critical Pacific Islanders Program.



Founded in 1989 by Rhodessa Jones, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women/HIV Circle, uses theater as a vehicle for social activism and personal transformation.

For more than 20 years, Rhodessa has used theater to explore issues specific to female inmates, such as guilt, depression, and self-loathing, which arose in response to feelings of failure in the face of community. Rhodessa currently works with incarcerated women across the globe, including South Africa, Russia, Alaska and the Caribbean.

In 2008, The Medea Project joined forces with UCSF's Women's HIV Clinic to create theater that explores what it means to be living with HIV in this day and age. Since 2008, The Medea Project: HIV Circle has performed shows all around the Bay Area, sharing the Truth and releasing the stigma of what it means to be female and living with the virus.                                

Delina Patrice Brooks is a multi-disciplinary artist, and Founder & Director of DelinaDream Productions. Brooks is a three-time Isadora Duncan “Izzie” Award nominee (“Beauty, The Beast: A Dance-Theater Production”, 2009 and “An Open Love Letter to Black Fathers”, 2016 & 2017). She has been presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Youth Speaks, The Black Choreographers Festival, La Pena Cultural Center, and the University of Wisconsin: Madison’s Filipino American Student Organization among others. She joined Marc Bamuthi Joseph's Living Word Project in 2004, during its inter/national touring choreopoem, “Scourge” and has since performed with Zap Mama, Nas & Damian Marley, ASE Dance Theatre Collective, City Circus (“And If We Shadows” & “Echo’s Reach”), African American Shakespeare Company (“Cinderella”), Cherrie Moraga’s Cihuatl Productions (“A New Fire”), Willows Theater (“Hair, The Musical”), Campo Santo (Superheroes and Babylon is Burning) and Dan Wolf's workshop performance of CURREN$Y in December, 2016.

The Thrive East Bay Choir was born in 2015 to sing the music for the revolution, and now we are ready. We are a diverse group of vocalists, artists, activists, educators, healers, and community organizers based in Oakland, California - directed by Bay Area musicians Austin Willacy & Kyle Lemle. Their heartfelt and soul-stirring original music is a fusion of gospel, soul, funk, and folk. As part of Thrive East Bay - a new purpose-driven community focused on personal and social transformation - the Choir's music provides people with an emotionally grounded and hopeful response to the systemic challenges we face in this time. They rock the house every month for the Thrive East Bay Community in downtown Oakland, and have uplifted audiences from Bioneers to the North America Permaculture Convergence                                                                                                                        to protests across California. 

Check them out at or listen on youtube.

Theatre Movement International began as a small self-funded, independent touring theater ensemble founded in the Bay Area exploring unheard voices with multi-cultural themes with emphasis on  post-colonial political theater with cut-edge contemporary language.

We have presented short theatrical performances on themes of diversity, Indigenous subjects, immigration and diaspora themes with sub-altern perspectives.

For the last four years our major work has been with First Nation People, specifically the Chiricahua Nde’ (Apache) group, traveling to the Southwest and Oklahoma (their prisoner of war place) to study, research, perform with and for the tribe, under the guidance of Leeland Michael Darrow, tribal historian and member of the tribe. We have exhibited work from this initiative at SOMARTS, San Francisco and we show cased our worldpremierof “Homecoming” at San Francisco International Arts Festival 2016.

Dancer and performance-maker, Keisha Turner, has Chicago and Brooklyn roots, and is based in Oakland, CA. Keisha is a creative change-maker with growing ties to the many resistance movements taking place in the Bay Area. In her artistic practice, she values the ability of African American/African diasporic traditions of dance and improvisation to intersect with contemporary performance art to tell stories that probe issues of politics, culture, and identity.

Keisha is also a certified yoga instructor, and is committed to offering body-positive, life-affirming classes that create space for participants to prioritize self-care and self-awareness as an entry point to engaging with their communities.  Her creative enterprise, EarthChild, is a collection of love-offerings comprised of performance, yoga classes, and body care products designed to celebrate, heal, and uplift oppressed communities.


Photos from Blessed Unrest, 2016