Company and Festival Assistant Director: Zahna Simon
Deaf from birth, Ms Zahna started her dance training with City Ballet School in San Francisco. She expanded her dance background when she was accepted to San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) by training with Elvia Marta in Modern, Jazz, African, Ballet, Hip Hop and Choreography as well as participating in Alonzo King’s LINES Pre-Professional Summer Programs. Upon graduating from SOTA in 2003, Ms Simon attended UCI double majoring in Chemistry and Dance. At UCI she trained and performed in over 20 performances in various dance styles, working with fellow peers, graduate students and distinguished faculty such as Lisa Naugle, David Allan and Donald McKayle. Upon graduating from UCI with a BS in Chemistry and a BFA in Dance Performance, Simon moved to San Diego to work full time at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and also performed with the Mesa College Dance Company, with CAC Repertory Dance Theatre (CACRDT), Bite Dance Company, Visionary Dance Theatre and in Jean Isaac’s Trolley Dances 2013. Ms Simon is now relocated back to the Bay Area and is acting Assistant Director for both Urban Jazz Dance Company and the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival (BAIDDF) under Antoine Hunter, Founder and Director and a full time office manager at a small Fiduciary Office in San Francisco; not only does she love performing and coordinating/conducting workshops for Urban Jazz Dance Company and BAIDDF, she has performed with Epiphany Productions for Alameda Island City Waterways.
Assistant Rehearsal Director: Leah Mendelson
Leah is native Israel, a traveler and explorer of arts and the world. Her artistic vision is one of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and it has brought her to visit many countries and explore cities all over the world. Leah has from an early age been an ambassador for the Deaf, speaking to the press as a young dancer in the Bat-Kol dance group for Deaf and hearing youth dancers, lecturing in schools and conferences to raise awareness for the Deaf community in Israel, where she grew up, and simply in her way, everyday, ready to communicate and connect.
All the varied and rich experiences- majority in dance in high school, as an actress in the Be'er Sheva Theatre, as a student of circus arts at Sandciel, as an avid swing dancer in Tel Aviv, have connected her to people through joy and movement. A significant part of this life process has been in the water as a certified Waterdance and Watsu therapist .The Urban Jazz Dance Company is a new and welcoming home for Leah- professional dance, joy, communicating with the audience and getting an important message out there.