A child of Hip Hop culture, Dr. grace shinhae jun (Founder and Artistic Director) is mover and thinker who focuses on community, compassion, and empowerment to embody rhythm and expression. She values a movement practice that is infused with historical and contextual education to enrich the corporeal experience. She has worked with choreographers Rebecca Bryant, Monica Bill Barnes, Tammy L. Wong, Wendy Rogers, Victoria Marks, Gabe Masson, Allyson Green, Lionel Popkin, and her mentor Jean Isaacs who has been instrumental in her growth as a choreographer and teacher. Her work has been presented in Trolley Dances, Live Arts Festival, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Dumbo Arts Festival, San Diego International Fringe Festival, at Link’s Hall, in Mexico and Singapore, and has choreographed for numerous staged plays, most notably for Will Power's "The Seven" at Occidental College. grace graduated with honors from UCSD with a BA in History and a BA in Choreography & Dance and received a MFA in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College. grace received her PhD in Drama and Theatre from UCSD and continues to research representations in Hip Hop Culture. She teaches at UC San Diego, San Diego City College and with trancenDANCE Youth Arts Project.


Anthony Blacksher (Ant Black) (Director of Poetry) has helped bring the San Diego poetry community to national prominence. He is one of the founders of Collective Purpose and the open-mic Elevated. A five-time member of the San Diego Poetry Slam Team he led the 2013 team to final stage at the National Poetry Slam. He is a professor of sociology at San Bernardino Valley College and a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His research interests include race and ethnicity, Black studies, popular culture, and the representation of spoken word poetry in commercial media. He is the associate publisher for the San Diego Poetry Annual and facilitates the blog sociooetix.org which uses spoken word poetry to illustrate sociological themes.


Jesse Mills, Ph.D. (Director of Music) has been writing and playing music since age 11. His musical influences range from Jimi Hendrix to Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley to Maxwell, B. B. King to Meshuggah, Guns N Roses to Public Enemy. Jesse has sung with the New England Conservatory Gospel Choir, the Coro Alegro Italian folk choir (Santa Rosa, CA), and has performed solo and in ensemble settings in schools and coffee shops in Northern and Southern California. At the University of San Diego, he is currently Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department and the Humanities Center Chair of Collaborative Research. Jesse proudly serves the community as an artist, activist, and scholar, organizing with the taxi union UTWSD, social equity funders SECF, and Black Lives Matter San Diego. He has degrees in Philosophy, African American Studies and Ethnic Studies, and his research, teaching, and community work challenge racism, imperialism, and injustice to contribute to collective social transformation.


Christopher Rice-Wilson (Managing Director) is currently the Associate Director at Alliance San Diego. His work centers on empowering communities of color and low-income communities through building bridges, creating collaboration, and identifying common issues. He is a father, brother, uncle, husband, and global change activist, who has traveled and lived all over the world. The former coach of the San Diego Slam Team, Christopher led the team to the final stage at the 2013 National Poetry Slam. Christopher’s life experiences, education, training, and work give him a deep understanding of the complexities involved with empowering people. He is always hopeful that his writing and his work uplifts the voices of the marginalized. He remains inspired by family, artists, co-workers, and close friends, who keep him honest and hopeful.


Shivon Carreño is a trained jazz vocalist from San Diego and has been singing professionally since the age of 11. Shivon has performed at venues such as the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee and The San Diego Dixieland Jazz festival, and Spreckels Theater to name a few. Shivon joined bkSOUL in 2014 and has had the honor of performing in Love H.E.R, Illegible, and The Lioness at the San Diego International Fringe Festival, Live Arts Festival, and the Social Justice Education Conference at San Diego City College. When not singing, Shivon is finishing her BS in Public Health, advocating for autistic people, providing coaching and education for parents of autistic children to ensure their needs are met in and out of school, creating a youth choir, tirelessly advocating for her patients at UC San Diego, and caring for her two sons, dog, and cat.


Loren Kiyoshi Dempster uses a combination of cello, computer, electronics, composition, improvisation, notated scores, and world music influences to create and perform music. He is deeply interested in the relationships between movement, space, and sound. Dempster has created and performed music with many collaborators, including Trio Tritticali, Harrison Atelier, Chris Ferris, projectLIMB, Dahlia Nayar, and Margaret Paek. He was a regular touring musician with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1999 until 2011. Since 2009, Dempster has been collaborating across the country with bkSOUL. Recently moved to Appleton, WI from Queens, NY, Dempster has taught as a guest artist at Renaissance High School for the Arts, and has performed at Wriston Art Gallery, Science Atrium, and Esch Studio at Lawrence University.


Lauren Dockweiler graduated from UCSD (2002) with a BA in Economics and a minor in Dance. She began dancing at an early age, primarily in ballet and jazz, but quickly found a passion for the style of modern dance while in college. Lauren’s rekindled love for movement was established and developed through training with Jean Isaacs (UCSD) and grace shinhae jun (bkSOUL), as well as Rebecca Bryant, Terry Wilson and Tonnie Sammartano. Outside of the dance community she works for a number of non- profit organizations, and full-time at Planned Parenthood as a fierce advocate for sexual and reproductive justice. Lauren has been performing with the company since 2002 and she is grateful to bkSOUL for enriching her life and feeding her soul.


Born and raised in Miami, Fl., Jessica Gilmore received her BFA in modern dance performance from the University of South Florida College of Visual and Performing Arts in 2008. Upon graduation, she spent time touring in Tunisia with Jeanne Travers/USF and also performed with Spectrum Dance Theatre (Seattle). Jessica is a long time Pole dancing instructor currently teaching at Fun Pole Fitness and also teaches modern dance through San Diego Dance Theater. Since Jessica’s move to San Diego in 2014, she has performed in Trolley Dances, WOW Festival, the San Diego International Fringe Festival and the Live Arts Festival in works by grace shinhae jun, Jean Isaacs, Terri Shipman and Stephen Koplowitz.


Ian Isles Ian Isles is a native of San Diego where he formally began his dance training as a young adult. He earned a degree in World Arts & Cultures from UCLA where he focussed on Contemporary Modern Dance, Composition, and various somatic practices, he has finished the Integrated Movement Studies curriculum for Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals under the direct instruction of Peggy Hackney as well as the curriculum for the Body Arts & Science International school for Pilates under the direct instruction of founder Rael Isacowitz. He recently returned from Israel where he further studied Ohad Naharin's Movement Language, Gaga, with Ohad Naharin himself as well as both current and former company members of Batsheva Dance Company. In addition to bkSOUL, Ian is currently working with Erica Buechner's Sound Dance Company, has performed as a soloist for Vic Marks and David Rousseve, and performed for Jesse Zaritt, Mark Haim, Maria Gillespie's Oni Dance, Nguyen Nguyen, Alexx Makes Dances, Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY, and Sara Silkin.


Miesha "Ocean" Rice-Wilson is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and all things WOMAN. She has a B.A. and M. A. in English Literature and Liberal Studies and has been writing and performing original and collaborative works for over 15 years. She started traveling, teaching and performing poetry with the Concrete Generation, based in Charlotte, NC in 2005 where she was given the stage name: Ocean. She has released three spoken-word albums, placed 4th at the Women of the World National poetry slam in 2009, and has competed nationally with the two-time National Poetry Slam champions, SlamCharlotte and the 2011 Elevated! San Diego Slam Team. She was welcomed into the synergy of bkSOUL, a collective of artist for social justice advocacy in 2014, where she continues to practice her belief that the stage is a sanctuary and a vessel for expression. Ocean is a Teaching Artist with Arts For Learning San Diego where she develops personalized curriculum for performance poetry and ignites little fires in our future creatives. Her opportunities for collaboration and teaching has been the most dynamic form of maintaining creativity. "I am always learning, and I love sharing and exchanging knowledge and experiences."