Vanessa Sanchez is a Chicana-Native dancer, choreographer and educator who emphasizes the voices and experiences of Latina, Chicana and Indigenous women and youth through contemporary performance, community arts and traditional dance forms. Her dance and choreographic expression explores movement and rhythm to tell stories of historical oppression and collective resistance. Sanchez’s artistic practice is influenced by her cultural and ancestral lineage, the experiences of her community and the expression of Afro-Latinx percussion and dance to challenge cultural and gender role stereotypes. As a dedicated and experienced arts educator in the Latino community, she works to ensure accessibility to quality arts training and performances. She independently produces the community grant outreach program “Connecting Communities to Funders,” a free, 3-part series that connects BIPOC, culturally-based dancers and artists with grant organizations.
Sanchez is the Founding Artistic Director of multi-disciplinary rhythmic ensemble La Mezcla and the creator of the show “Pachuquísmo,” an all-female tap dance and Son Jarocho performance about Pachucas and the Zoot Suit Riots. She has trained for over 20 years in tap dance, 15 years in Afro-Brazilan, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Haitian folkloric dance, and 12 years in Son Jarocho zapateado from Veracruz, Mexico. She holds a degree in Dance and Childhood Development from San Francisco State University and has trained with masters in the US, Mexico and South America.
Sanchez is a recipient of the Hewlett 50 Arts Commission grant in collaboration with Brava Theater, a 2019 Dance/USA Artist fellow, the recipient of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) 2019 National Dance Production Grant, and the winner of the 2019 Isadora Duncan Award for Outstanding Production (for Pachuquísmo). She is currently a Dance Lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, an artist in residence at Brava! For Women in the Arts and Ruth Asawa’s School of the Arts.
Sanchez’s work has been shown on stages throughout the SF Bay Area, the United States and Mexico, including performances at CubaCaribe, Festival Raices (Veracruz, Mexico) and Teatro Maria Matos in Lisbon, Portugal. Most recently, she created and directed a virtual Concert for Kids for the Lincoln Center and had selections of her show “Pachuquísmo” featured on The Joyce Theater online stream. She has created work for shows including Dance Brigade’s YBCA presentation of “Gracias a la Vida” and John Jota Leanos’ “Imperial Silence- Una Opera Muerta.” Sanchez is currently a Dance Lecturer at UC Santa Cruz and has been featured as a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, San Francisco State University, CSU Channel Islands and CSU East Bay. She held a 10-day guest artist residency at Arizona State University and has led dance workshops throughout organizations including The San Francisco Museum of the African Diaspora, the Dance/USA national conference and for environmental activist Collette Pinchon Battle’s Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy.
As a professional dancer, Sanchez has performed with group’s including Las Bomberas de la Bahia (Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba), Afoutayi (Afro-Haitian), Arenas Dance Company (Afro-Cuban), Aguas da Bahia (Afro-Brazilian), and Duniya Dance and Drum Company (Bhangra/Bollywood/West African). She has performed throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe at events including San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Bomplenazo (Bronx, New York), El Festival de las Brujas (Veracruz, Mexico) and at Teatro Maria Matos in Lisbon, Portugal.
With a background in dance education and over 20 years of dance training, Vanessa is an accomplished teaching artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her teaching skills range from preschool and elementary aged classes, to adult classes of all levels, as well as mentoring new teaching artists. Vanessa currently teaches with various local non-profit arts organizations. She is available for private classes, workshops, and choreography sessions!
For inquiries about choreographic work or group/private classes, please see Contact page.