2019 Faculty: Session Two
Julana is an accomplished performer and choreographer in the Portland area. Daughter to a Broadway performer and world-renown percussionist father, she had no choice but to succumb to the world of music and dance. At fifteen, Julana received a full scholarship to study with Alvin Ailey School of Dance, and has also had the honor of training with legends Joanna Kneeland, Terry Brock, Julane Stites and Barbara Remington. Graduate of the Jefferson Dance Program, she moved on to study and perform with Eveoke Dance Theatre of San Diego, Salsa Con Clave in Puerto Rico, Alvin Ailey, and Broadway Dance Center in New York. Musical theatre appearances include Fame (Carmen), West Side Story (Carmelita), Peter Pan (Tiger Lily 2), and South Pacific (Ensemble). She was co-director for Ache Comparsa Group, Orishas Traditional Dance Troupe, and has also choreographed and appeared in shows for Disney, New York New York Hotel, Nike, Will Vinton Claymation, Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theatre, American Diabetes Association, DanceWest, Urban Arts Dance Company and more. Currently, Julana is the Director of Dance for Franklin High School and choreographer for Grant High Theatre. She can also be seen performing as the lead singer for popular Latin jazz orchestra, The Bobby Torres Ensemble.
Sekou Soumah (Derrell Walker)
African Dance Instructor
Derrell “Sekou Soumah” Walker is a Portland, Oregon native and a strong presence in the West African Drum and Dance community. He is the perfect blend of drum and dance; Western and West African. He effortlessly inhabits the highest levels of Mandingue drum and dance, and blends these skills with his American roots and a deep knowledge of the Mandingue culture.
The embodiment of these traits combined with a natural gift for teaching and mentoring make Sekou one of a kind. Africans and non-Africans alike respect him worldwide. This is reflected in Sekou's starring as both a dancer and a percussionist in Moustapha Bangoura's Tinkanyi instructional dance videos in 2003. In 2004 Sekou received his teaching certification from Mamady Keita and Tam Tam Mandingue, followed by a teaching diploma in 2008.
Sekou began his dance career in 1998, after several years of training as an athlete. The path from athlete to dancer is an unusual one. As a result of thousands of hours spent training and competing in track & field and baseball, Sekou possesses a grace and power in dance that is rare, particularly amongst American-born African dancers. Sekou continues to refine these skills through performing and teaching dance all over the United States and internationally in countries including Scotland, Singapore, Mexico and Bali.