As URBAN-15’s co-founder and artistic director, Catherine Cisneros has taken her performance company to several international festivals in Mexico and participated in the inaugurations parades of presidents Obama (2009), Bush (2001), and Clinton (1997). She studied in the Art department of the University of Texas at Austin in the 1970s and later in the University of Houston Sculpture department under James Surls as well as UH’s Dance department under Jennifer Mitchel. She is an established dancer, drummer, and visual artist who has exhibited throughout Texas and Mexico. She is the recipient of the Artist Foundation of San Antonio’s Costume Design Award (2013), Mind Science Foundation’s Imagineers Award (1999), and the San Antonio Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs Choreographers Grant (1992).
URBAN-15 co-founder and director of music and media, George Cisneros is a composer and technology artist and 1981 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship Recipient in experimental genres. He is a long-time proponent of experimental and community-based artworks utilizing interactive electronics, video, sound, and performance. Throughout his career, he has used the technology arts as building blocks for community expressions. As Music and Media Director, his duties include creating and selecting all original compositions for the company, auditioning musicians, supervising the training of selected musicians, and serving as the primary instructor for the professional, community, senior, and children classes. He has a B.A. in music from the University of Houston (1977) and a Masters of Music Composition from the Ohio State University (1987). George maintains a multimedia production studio, VuTure Arts, and has exhibited his electronic sound and projection works throughout the country. He served as Coordinator for Information Resources at the Texas Commission on the Arts from 1990 to 1994; participated in local and national boards and panels, including the American Music Center, National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian Museum, Meet the Composer, and LUMINARIA 2008-2011.
Jonathan Anderson holds a B.A. in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin. He is Production Director for URBAN-15’s ON-LINE/IN-TIME Internet Streaming Project and serves as Project Manager for the annual Josiah Media Festival. He also teaches our Cultivation classes for seniors and youth and assists and performs with the Carnaval de San Anto performance ensemble. He performs regularly with local music group Los de Este Noche. As a recognized percussionist, he has won several statewide honors including acceptance into TMEA’s Texas All-State Orchestra.
Marisol Cortez, Events Coordinator
Marisol Cortez is a writer and community-based scholar whose creative work traffics between the arts, academia, and activism. At URBAN-15 she works to communicate and promote all events and programs to media, funders, and the wider community. She also assists with event production, senior and youth drum classes, and script development and research assistance for URBAN-15’s Hidden Histories project. She holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from the University of California, Davis and a B.A. in English from Texas State University at San Marcos.
Steve Austad worked 20 years as a pit and session drummer from California to Las Vegas before getting a bachelor’s degree in music education from California State University at Fullerton in 1980. He was a middle school band director for 11 years before moving to Texas. Today, he is director of U-15’s djembe ensemble, principal percussionist in U-15’s performance ensemble, and a teacher in the CULTIVATION youth and senior classes. Austad is also a skilled and valued fabricator of a variety of hand drums.
A company member since 1990 and assistant director since 1998, LaCour’s duties include working as a dance instructor for U-15’s community classes and a principle dancer with our professional touring company. Her past affiliations have included Anike, Adunbi and Colours, and various traditional African dance companies. She has taught African dance with the Carver Community Cultural Center and the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department.
Beckie (Adame) Kretzer, Dance Instructor
Kretzer holds a BA in drama from St. Mary’s University and an MA in education management from UTSA. She has studied/performed ballet, tap, and Spanish dance w/ SA Parks & Rec. Dept. and ballet, tap, and jazz w/ Earle Cobb Dance Studio. She has also worked as assistant instructor. She has been a high school teacher, pep/cheer sponsor, and elementary summer program dance/drama instructor. She currently teaches and dances for the performance dance ensemble at Urban-15 Studio.
Ysleta Guerra-Northam, Studio Assistant, Dance & Percussion
Guerra-Northam is a retired elementary school bilingual teacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg. She is a drummer and a dancer with Carnaval de San Anto’s performance ensemble and also serves as office assistant to Rene Sanchez. She is a long-time collector of native folk stories and dichos.
Marta Esparza, Costume Mistress
Esparza received her BA in education and fine arts from Our Lady of the Lake University in 1978. She taught from 1978- 2008 in the Edgewood ISD as an elementary classroom teacher and as the school’s fine arts teacher for the entire school. She has been the site coordinator for the Greater San Antonio After School All-Stars for the past 10 years. She became a dancer with Carnaval de San Anto’s performance ensemble in 2006 and the resident “costume mistress” in 2010.
Rene Sanchez, Financial Manager
Sanchez has been URBAN-15’s financial manager since 2006, responsible for the organization’s accounts payable/accounts receivable, month-end closins, account reconciliation, payroll processing, bank reconciliation, data input, office management, maintaining various accounting software. He served as a staff attorney for Andrew J. Greene, CPA, between 1995–2006. He graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a BA of business administration, accounting in 1994.
URBAN-15’s 2018 BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
President – Christine Tovar
Vice President – Dr. Judith York
Secretary – Leslie Provence
Hector J. Gonzalez
Advisory Members –
George L. Herrera