A native New Yorker of both Puerto Rican and Indonesian decent, Aisha studied Puerto Rican folklore dance from a young age in Puerto Rico. Aisha’s dance training spans from belly dance to Flamenco and beyond. A hairstylist and make-up artist by trade, she is the co-founder of the ABAKUA Afro-Latin Dance Company and one of Frankie Martinez’s premier dance partners.
Lori Ana Perez is dancer, performer and educator of Puerto-Rican descent, born and raised in New York City. She is trained in ballet, jazz, hip hop, bomba, West-african dance, and specifically mambo and chacha. She began dancing mambo professionally at the age of 15 with a youth dance company called “Young Ambition,” and performed and taught all over the country. An accomplished performer by 18, Lori then joined Abakua Afro-Latin Dance Company where she has become a principal dancer. As Frankie's partner Lori performed and taught in countries across Europe as well as Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. She has also choreographed and performed her own pieces at BristSalsaFest in Britain and the Simposium Internacional in Spain. She has become an accomplished teacher having had classes at Djoniba Drum and Dance Centre, Empire Dance Studios, You Should Be Dancing, Cumbe Center for African Dance and in high schools and elementary schools. Lori has also earned her BA in Psychology and Dance at Hunter College.
Emanuel Blackett was a principal dancer for ABAKUÁ from 2002 until 2008 before transitioning into his current role as Executive Director, Development and Education. In his role, Manny has managed the company newsletter as well as the website and is working diligently on garnering support for ABAKUÁ through expanding the role of grantors, sponsors and supporters of ABAKUÁ. Within education, Manny’s primary goals are to develop programs to promote dancer training and development. Manny‘s aim is to combine his love for dance with his passion for human development. Manny continues to train and perform with the company during select performances.
John Piazza is a Brooklyn native of Italian descent. He began his dance training in 2002, taking classes at Salsa Groove in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was invited to be a principal dancer in Jason Myra’s dance company, Tumbao due to his talent and exemplary discipline. His accolades continued as he worked with other prominent New York City Latin dancers such as Addie Diaz and Marisol Ramirez. John began to train with Frankie Martinez in 2005 and was invited to join ABAKUA in 2007.
Israeli born, Keren was classically trained in Ballet and Modern dance for over 8 years. She began studying Latin dance in 1998 and instructed for 2 years. After being spotted on stage in Israel in April 2004, Keren was asked to join The Company and moved to the U.S. to train and study under Frankie Martinez. She has been active with The Company since June of 2005.
Lia is a native New Yorker, of Italian and Spanish descent and has been involved in the performing arts for over fifteen years. At the age of thirteen, she began studying classical vocal music and performed with various choral groups and theatrical productions throughout high school and college. Lia began studying Latin dance in 2005 and has been training exclusively with Frankie Martinez since early 2007. She was asked to join the company in June of 2009.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Spanish Harlem, Gilbert Reyes graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. In Dance and Anthropology focused in Linguistics with a minor in Afro-Latino Studies. Inspired by physicality and improvisation Gilbert Reyes plays with the body’s different venues of exploration through movement research. He is currently choreographing and dancing for Sublime Dance Company, Christal Brown and ABAKUA Afro-Latin Dance Company. Gilbert Reyes is also presenting work through the Hunter College Dance Programs’ Lecture Demonstration course and adoring every experience.