PEOPLE OF WORLD MUSIC & DANCE
Monina Sen Cervone is a gifted educator and musician and the founder of the Asawa SOTA World Music department. She began playing music at age four, learning classical piano. After working as a consultant in the technology industry for five years, Monina had an epiphany: she needed to help kids through music, and not sit behind a desk. She went on to study music in Japan, India, and Bali; Japanese taiko drumming as a member of San Francisco Taiko Dojo’s performing ensemble led by Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka; and was a member of Gamelan Sekar Jaya’s jegog ensemble.
Subsequently, she received her Masters in Music at SF State and earned her teaching credential. The subject of her thesis: how Taiko drumming effects the self esteem of adolescent girls. Monina began working at SOTA as an assistant to the Vocal department, and from there went on to pursue her interest in teaching World Music. In 2008, the program was piloted as an elective to students of the Instrumental Music Department, and in 2012 became its own department within IM– the only hands-on World Music offering in the American public school system.
The Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company, Joti began learning Punjabi Bhangra as a child in Atlanta. She discovered West African dance in college and studied with master teachers in Guinea. With collaborator Zenon Barron, created “Half and Halves,” about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California, and “The Madness of the Elephant,” about Guinea’s first president, Sekou Toure. She has received funding from the Creative Work Fund, the San Francisco Arts Commission, Dancers’ Group, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, SF Grants for the Arts and the American India Foundation, and has participated in the CHIME mentorship program. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at CounterPulse twice, most recently in their Performing Diaspora program. During this residency, Joti created the piece “Red, Saffron and Green,” about the Gadar Party, based in San Francisco in the early 20th century, fighting for India’s independence from Britain.
Joti and her husband, musician Bongo Sidibe, lead dance/music study trips to Guinea and recently opened the Duniya Center for Arts and Education in Conakry. She teaches all over the SF Bay Area, including Dance Mission Theater and the San Francisco School of the Arts. Joti holds an MA in South Asian Studies from UC Berkeley and a BA in English from Reed College.