Aska Kaneko was born in Tokyo, received an international quartet competition grand prize in London at 15. She was a musical director of a 10-year pan-Asian orchestra supported by the Japan Foundation. Aska has also been awarded the New York Bessie Composition Award and is well known in Japan for her musical direction of several major theater productions. She regularly tours in Europe and Japan with more than 20 albums released to date. Aska has worked with Gitana on two projects including East Meets West with Denise Thimes and Vince Evans at the Sheldon and Faces of Love: Celebration of the Divine Feminine featuring Jasnam Daya Singh, pianist, Amy Camie, harpist and Ruth Latcheson,Blues and Gospel Singer. Fair to say that Gitana loves Aska and highly esteems her talent and versatility. We deeply appreciate her generous support of Gitana’s mission. Aska Kaneko
Dawn Weber is known as one of the top performers and trumpeters in the St. Louis area. She attended the Cleveland Institute of Music receiving her undergraduate degree in trumpet performance. There she trained intensely in the classical genre but also studied jazz and worked in the rock and Latin scene in Cleveland. Dawn started to sub with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and was selected as 1 out of 5 trumpet players to compete in the Ellsworth Smith International Trumpet Competition. She played and toured with the popular St. Louis group, Vargas Swing getting her start as a singer/songwriter. She has since released 6 albums as the main songwriter in the genres of swing, jazz, funk, groove, and electronica. Dawn free-lances with the St. Louis Symphony, performs with Arch City Brass and Gateway Brass and leads the projects Naked Rock Fight, Electro Funk Assembly and The Dawn Weber Group.  Dawn Weber
Phillip Graves is a versatile and gifted multi-instrumentalist, music director, producer, composer, arranger and vocalist from St. Louis, MO who performs and tours with many local, national, and international artists. Phillip’s mission is to touch and inspire the lives of people through love, leadership, and music. He is a proud graduate of the St. Louis Public Schools and Webster University; with a Bachelors of Music degree in Jazz Studies with an emphasis in Music Technology. Phillip has toured and performed with many local, national, and international artists including Phil Perry, Lynne Fiddmont, Angela Winbush, Antonique Smith, Brian Owens, Andre Delano, Russell Gunn, Julie Dexter, Farshid Etniko, Theo Peoples, Charles Glenn, Bosman Twins, Anita Jackson, Denise Thimes, Tim Cunningham, and Grammy nominated artists N’Dambi, Eric Roberson, and Anthony David. Phillip Graves
Christian Oncken, Electronic Instrumentalist, became involved with live electronic performance in 1995, eventually learning to build, then code and design his own electronic instruments and effects. He is a member of two bands, the electronic dance group Electro Funk Assembly and Final Veil, a project that combines Middle Eastern music, rhythm and dance with modern electronic genres.  
  Lee Patton Chiles is a playwright, director, actor and educator based in the St. Louis region. During her career she has collected four Kevin Kline nominations for Best New Play, a Regional Emmy for Best Video for Young People, and a Marconi award for Best Female Vocal Talent. Patton was the Producing Artistic Director of Historyonics Theatre Company from 1991 until 2005. She is the Playwright in Residence for Gitana Productions for more than 9 years. While working with Gitana she earned two Kevin Kline nominations for “best new play.” She loves teaching at Saint Louis University and Washington University. Lee Patton Chiles  
Vivian Anderson Watt, Co-Director and Choreographer, Educator, Actress, Dancer, Writer, is a native St. Louisan who trained under Katherine Dunham, Norman Davis, Lenwoo Morris, Archie Savage, and Tommi Gomez in East St. Louis where she worked as Theater assistant/Arts in Education Director at SIUE. She has taught classes for the Dunham Seminar, Lula Washington Dance, Judi Best Dance Academy, Marla Gibbs Academy of Dance, Wren Academy, COCA Arts Institute, Riverside Regional Dance, C.H.I.P.S. (Community Health In Partnership) every Performing Arts Magnet school in St. Louis and at such landmark sites as the historic Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles; creating choreography for the 1987 Olympics in Los Angeles. Vivian has been associated with Gitana since 1997 working with such greats as Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Melba Moore, China National Orchestra, Brazilian Virginia Rodriguez, and Japanese Violinist Aska Kaneko, not to mention being dance coordinator for Gitana’s Global Education through the Arts program. Gitana’s production “Complacency of Silence: Darfur” in which she acts and choreographs was nominated for 5 Kevin Kline Awards. Vivian Anderson Watt



Jessica Alvarado expressed a genuine flare for performing so her mother enrolled her in Janet’s Ballet Dance Studio, a local dance school in Brooklyn. At 17, Jessica decided to enroll at TVI Actor’s Studio in Manhattan where she began taking classes honing her skills. Her multi-cultural background helped her earn spot with Between the Lines Production Company to star in their Audelco Award winning Off-Broadway play called Platanos and Collard Greens. In 2008, Jessica’s dedication and commitment earned her the Sonny Rollins Award for Outstanding Performance. The highest level of recognition one could earn as a member of Between the Lines Production Company. Her recent credits include: “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler, “8” by Dustin Lance Black, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange. Jessica is an original cast member of NEW WORLD and was a lead actress in SOY YO! (I AM ME).

Jessica Alvarado  
Annaliese Hubbard is a proud mother, actress, West African dancer and a fashion/jewelry designer. She is the Artistic Director of Playback Workshop Theatre and LIVETY: Indigenous Dance and Fashion. Anneliese enjoys sharing movement and teaching improv theatre to at risk youth. She has performed literary works with various student productions and renown repertory companies. "The New World" is Anneliese's acting debut with Gitana Productions. She is looking forward to sharing her art abroad and saving lives through the inspiration of art. Annaliese Hubbard
Natalie Walker is an actor, writer and aspiring story teller earning her BFA in Acting at Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts. Her past credits within the Conservatory include Macbeth, Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play, and Stage Door. Fascinated by language from a very young age, Natalie runs a self-designed poetry blog and was most recently published in Grown Upz magazine. She is beyond excited to make her debut with the wonderful creators of Gitana Productions in New World. Natalie Walker