Christian Rodriguez: Founder
Christian Rodriguez, founder of the Interfusion Festival, is passionate about helping others realize deeper connections between the mind, body, and spirit. His commitment to integrative wellness includes a personal practice of mindfulness with emphasis on meditation, somatic movement, yoga and dance. As President of the Institute for Integrative Wellness (IFIW), he guides the direction of events and services that empower individuals to achieve greater states well-being, balance and positive human experience. Christian earned his MA from Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Master of Administration Program, Public Executive concentration.
Umka Pele: Festival Producer
Umka Pele directs Interfusion Festival. Umka holds a master's degree in Public Policy and has helped build stakeholder partnerships on a number of government and non-profit programs. Umka is also a movement artist and athlete who has practiced and performed in a variety of genres including gymnastics, acrobatics, yoga and dance. Umka leverages her unique combination of professional and artistic experience to build the Interfusion community and create opportunities for people from all backgrounds to experience the transformational power of movement and healing arts.
Shaka Brown: Executive Director
Shaka directs the production aspects of Interfusion Festival. He believes that the power of knowledge comes from sharing, and he has implemented this philosophy on a global scale. Shaka has taught, spoken, and shared in hundreds of cities and over 38 countries. In 2005 Shaka Brown partnered with David Melendez to found the Capital Congress (Washington DC Salsa Congress), which has grown to a 4-day gathering of dancers from around the world. In 2009 he launched Simple Dance Method, with a goal to foster a space for teachers and dancers to interact, share choreography, ideas, and curriculums online. Shaka resides in Washington DC, where you can find him dancing salsa, losing chess games, practicing Spanish, Portuguese & French, and encouraging others to live their lives to the fullest.
Terrisa Widener: Artist Relations Director
Terrisa directs artist relations for the Interfusion Festival. As a dancer, performer and aspiring dance instructor, Terrisa's love affair with dance began at young age however; she didn’t being her dance journey until after completing grad school and obtaining her Master of Public Administration (MPA). Terrisa began her dance training in 2008. She later discovered Salsa & Bachata and began training in Bachata under the direction of Ferocity Dance Company’s owner & director, Kat Arias. Terrisa co-organized the DC Zouk Festival for 3 years and grew it to one of the premier Zouk events in the United States. The unique combination of her dance background accompanied with management and organizational skills are a great asset to the Interfusion Festival.
Mahlet Ketema: Staff & Volunteer Director
Mahi's integral role with Interfusion Festival includes leading over 5 core teams that involve more than 30 staff and volunteers. Mahi's remarkable life journey has shaped her unique leadership style, one of inspiring simplicity and sophistication. She has always had a passion for music and dance, with her special interest for salsa and bachata growing in 2013 when she dedicated herself to the genres. Mahi Graduated from George Washington University with BS in General Health Sciences and runs private medical imaging company.
Ari Darmon: Acroyoga Director
Ari Began his Acro career on a whim, he was introduced by friends and one of them suggested he would really enjoy the child like play that Acro provided. On that advice he went to his first jam. In the past several years acro has taught him lots of things. Communication, Trust and Strength and Resolve. Ari is a certified Personal trainer and will be attending Acro Revolution teacher training in the fall. He has taken many workshops and has been teaching and performing Acrobatics for the past 8 Months. His training focus includes hand balancing and dance acrobatics. He also enjoys other forms of dynamic acrobatics. When not being a sturdy base Ari Enjoys Trail Running with his canine companion and the company of friends and loved ones. Learn more about Ari at: Acrodurance.