DanceVersity Faculty – Portsha Jefferson, Instructor

Haitian, Afro-Haitian, Haitian Folkloric Dance Teacher

portsha-jeffersonPortsha Jefferson is a professional dancer and choreographer trained in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and African derived styles, who specializes in Haitian Folkloric Dance. She began her formal training at the age of six at the Marsha Woody Dance Academy in Beaumont, Texas. Established in 2004, Ms. Jefferson is the founder and artistic director of Rara Tou Limen (RTL), an arts organization that presents Haitian music, dance & culture through classes, workshops, and performances.

bio_portsha_image1A passionate believer in education and youth development, she has worked for several youth organizations including The Young Performers Theater, The San Francisco Arts Education Project, Westlake School of the Arts, Opera Picolla, DanceVersity and Swivel Arts. Ms. Jefferson has taught creative movement and Haitian Folkloric dance in schools, universities, community centers and dance studios for twelve years.

Ms. Jefferson was a principle dancer and vocalist with Group Petit La Croix (1996-2003) under the leadership of veteran dancer and educator Blanche Brown. She has been fortunate and blessed to grace the stage with Reconnect, Ase Dance Theater Collective, Feet of Rhythm and El Wah Movement. In Haiti, she has had the privilege to perform with Compagnie Culturelle Des Arts and Ayiti Dans Ansanm (ADA). Guest performances with Afro-Cuban companies include: EMESE: Messengers of the African Diaspora, along with Jose Francisco Barroso & Obakoso.

2011-camp-afro-haitianMs. Jefferson’s dedication and exploration of Haitian culture have brought her to Haiti, where she has traveled throughout the country to research regional dance, rhythms and musical traditions since 2003. Specific interest and concentration of study took place in Gonaives at Lakou Badjo, where Nago (Yoruba) traditions are preserved, and at Tanp Souvenance Mistik, a Vodou community that celebrates it’s Rada (ancient kingdom of Dahomey) heritage. Further studies at Ecole Nationale des Arts (ENARTS), Vivian Gauthier’s School of Dance and Artcho Danse, the official dance school of internationally renowned dance troupe Ayikodans, provided a rich foundation into the Folkloric aspect of Haitian culture. Lynn Coles, Blanche Brown, Peniel Guerrier, Cadet Jean Evens, Emmanuel Louis, Metayer Frantz, Ramses Philius, Lee Hetelson and Daniel Brevil, among others, have played a key role in her artistic growth.

bio_portsha_image2Currently, Ms. Jefferson is a guest instructor/choreographer at University of California at Berkeley, Teen Dance Center in Mountain View, and is an artist in residence for Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and SF Unified School District. In addition, she is an instructor at East Bay Dance Center, Dance Mission Theater and the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. She also serves as a Cultural Arts Specialist with Oakland Parks and Recreation where she continues to share her love of dance with Oakland youth.

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Portsha’s Student Pictures:





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