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Tania Santiago

“Art brings so much to the community. San Francisco with no art would be like a place with no heart. Dance is important for me. It keeps me alive. It makes me strong as a black person, because it’s not easy to be a black person in this world. So dance for me is everything. I dance with my ancestors. They’re with me through everything in my life.

It’s because of our ancestors that we are here. We always have to remember who we are, where we came from, and why we have so much. Black people we are brothers and sisters. Your ancestors are my ancestors. Although I’m from Brazil and you’re from the United States, Haiti, or Cuba, we still feel and experience the same thing that our ancestors experienced. The racism still happens. I want to see us come together and support each other.

I’m a little sad about “community” in the United States. I don’t think it exists. I’ve lived in the same place for 13 years, and I don’t even know my neighbor. That is not a community. We need to recreate our community here. I have to create my own community. That is what I do inside my dance classes. Cultural arts are important because it brings people together and helps people understand one another.

In my classes we come together to dance, travel and help each other. But I really want to see us even more together. We are too separate. I want to see more black people happier and smiling. We need that here.
I don’t think another color could be so strong. It is a strong force. It is beauty. It is art. The color black absorbs a lot of energy. We as black people absorb a lot of energy. We absorb good energy. I am a black person, dancer and a fighter. Being black is everything to me. We are our hearts."

Tania Santiago
Afro-Brazilian Dance Teacher, Choreographer and Massage Therapist
Originally from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil