Funmilayo was born in Brazil and grew up in Guyana. She has traveled extensively to Nigeria and Ghana, where she lived and studied dance for three years. She’s also visited the Congo, the motherland of her ancestors. From 1987 to 1992, she was a member of the only traditional Congolese dance company in New York City, Malaki MA Congo. Funmilayo has been teaching Congolese dance for almost 20 years in New York City and is the director of F.U.S.H.A. Dance Company, founded in 1995. In 1996, she won the Ethnic Dance Award for best African dance instructor. Funmilayo has also studied Ballet, Modern, Tap, Sabar, Guinean, Haitian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Dahomey and Dunham dance. She is employed by the Department of Education and teaches ethnic dance to pre-k through 12th grades. Funmilayo realizes that the ancient dance of the Congolese people, combined with the creative movements and sounds of their descendants, have shaped the culture of many music and dance styles in the Diaspora, including Samba, Salsa, Hip Hop, Reggae, Calypso, Cassav, Jazz, BellyDance, and popular dances like the Electric Slide and even Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. She was inspired to form F.U.S.H.A. Dance Company to empower and educate people in the healing powers of dance, and to celebrate the richness of dance and culture from Africa and the Diaspora. Funmilayo and F.U.S.H.A. Dance Company have performed at Harvard University and Alvin Ailey, as well as in Jamaica, Sweden and Italy.
Dani Criss is a multidisciplinary artist, artistic educator and community organizer hailing from Durham, North Carolina and is now based in Brooklyn, NY. She is passionate about the advancement of people of African descent and is driven by her roots and studies of the African Diaspora. Her use of the arts as an educational tool provides a foundational appreciation, acceptance, and historical context for African Diasporic cultures. Dani has trained and performed with numerous artists, companies and festivals including The American Dance Festival, The Honorable Baba Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble, Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Otesha Cultural Arts Ensemble, Asè Dance Theatre Collective, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy and others. Choreographic works have been shared in various ensembles, theaters, schools, and festivals around the country. Check outwww.danicriss.com for more information.
Careitha Davis is a Brooklyn native representing the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. She has trained and worked with numerous choreographers and dance educators in New York while also keeping in touch with her cultural roots under the guidance of Shakira Marshall. Recently, Careitha received her MA degree in dance education for grades K-12. She currently teaches at Success Charter Academy, Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn and now Cumbe!
Vado has danced since the age of four, learning the dance and drum traditions of his Mahouka people. At an early age, he was initiated into becoming the keeper of the sacred mask dance on stilts, Gue-Pelou. This distinction brought him to the Ballet National de Cote d’Ivoire, where he became a principal dancer for more than 15 years. Vado learned over 60 ethnic dance and drumming traditions from the Ivory Coast and other West African countries. His repertoire elevated his career to eventually choreographing and touring extensively throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. In 1989 he established L’Ensemble Kokiegna d’Abidjan, which has resided in New York City as the Kotchegna Dance Company since 1994. In Vado’s native language Mahou, ’kotchegna’ means messenger. His troupe’s goal is to inspire joy and understanding through the power of dance and drum, promoting the exchange of culture worldwide. He continues to strengthen his experience as a choreographer, artistic director, teacher and performer. He also takes part in many educational programs for children in New York City schools and beyond. For more information, go to www.kotchegna.com.
Stevie Insua is an electrifying performer and an engaging, patient, and effective teacher for students of all levels, from beginner to advanced. He is skilled in rumba, Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, and popular dances of Cuba and Latin America such as mambo and son. He has an extensive knowledge of Afro-Cuban percussion and song. Stevie graduated from Escuela Nacional de Arte, Cuba’s most prestigious performing arts conservatory, and he performed with Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba throughout Cuba and internationally. Stevie lived and taught in Italy for 10 years before relocating to New York. His father was the legendary rumbero and Afro-Cuban dancer Felix Pupy Insua.
Nadege “Nado” Jackson is from the Ivory Coast, grew up in France and has been an African dancer for more than 15 years. Her love of African music and dance inspired her to learn modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, Salsa, Samba, Soukouss, N’dombolo, Zouglou and traditional dances from the Ivory Coast like Gbegbe, Té Maté, Kaoka, and Zaouli. She was the lead dancer of the Afro-Caribbean dance group NASSUCO and has performed various dance styles at many music festivals and stadiums. She has choreographed and danced for various popular African and Caribbean musicians including Awilo Logomba, Sekouba Bambino, Barbara Kanam, Sakis and Orlus Mabele. She has also performed and toured in over 14 countries as well.
Julio Jean is a renowned master Haitian dance teacher and choreographer with 20 years of experience, and blends traditional Haitian forms with modern and contemporary dance to create compelling movement narratives.
Julio studied with Lavinia Williams, a company member of Katherine Dunham, at the National School of Arts in Haiti. In 1989, he moved to New York City, and worked directly with Katherine Dunham teaching traditional Haitian dance for her teacher trainings. He has been a guest teacher at Webster University in Saint Louis and Humboldt University, and has taught workshops in San Francisco, Milwaukee, and at the Dance New England Dance Camp in Poland, Maine. Among other venues, Julio’s performances have been seen at Alvin Ailey for National Dance week and at SummerStage in 2010. Julio is also a songwriter and composer and released the album, “Kenbe la,” which encompasses the panorama of traditional Haitian music.
Tamara Jones is a dancer and choreographer in New York. She has been a member of several different dance companies including Harambee Dance Company and Umoja Dance Company. Throughout her dance career, Tamara has had the opportunity to perform on many stages and venues, including Symphony Space, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), for Essence Magazine Events, Summer Stage, the International African Arts Street Festival, New Jersey Performing Arts Center NJPAC and Broadway Dance Center’s Tribute to Savion Glover 2005. She also choreographed Jona Briddle for “The Jonah Show,” a tribute to Hip Hop pioneer and for Brickhouse Studios founder Kelly Peters at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre. Yearly, as a part of Nabisco’s Black History Program, Tamara teaches an Afrobeats and African dance class to employees to help celebrate African culture.
Aside from dance, Tamara Jones has also explored a career in acting as she was a dancer in the 2016 Indi Film “The Magnificent Cooley T,” starring Jackie Long and Tiearra Marie and produced by Steven Leeds. She was also in “A Meyers Christmas,” a movie produced by Will Packer and directed by David E. Talbert (2017).. Ms. Jones shares her passion for dance through teaching. She currently teaches West African, Tap and Hip Hop to ages 6 and older. She teaches Sub African dance at Broadway Dance Center, Afrobeats at Ripley Grier Studios and at Grammy Award Winning singing artist Chrisette Michelle’s new dance studio, RH Studios. She also shares are passion for dance through her instruction at a free class at Union Square’s Reebok store, sponsored by Reebok.
Yaminah Legohn, a passionate and dedicated choreographer, professional dancer, and performer of West African, Dancehall/Reggae, Hip Hop, Jazz and Modern dance styles. She lives in New York City and holds a degree from San Francisco State University in Speech Communications and Dance, with an emphasis in choreography. Before moving to New York, Legohn worked in Los Angeles as a choreographer and professional dancer with artists such as Shakira, N.E.R.D, Tony Toni Tone, Lil Wayne, and B.o.B. along with appearances on TV shows. Legohn has shown work in the Black Choreography Festival in the Bay Area, American College Dance Festival, SoulNation Festival in Indonesia, Choreographer’s Ball “Carnival” in Hollywood and New York, World of Dance, San Francisco International Hip Hop Festival, and RAW Artists in Los Angeles and New York. Simply put, she lives to spread her love and passion for the arts.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Danielle started dancing at the age of seven at the Dance School Centro de Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There she studied ballet, jazz, tap, modern, national, and international folkloric dance. She also performed with G.R.E.S. Beija-Flor, the largest samba school in Rio, for several years. She’s performed contemporary pieces in the Opera O Guarani with The Rio Dance Company and has been lead dancer Rodry Baiano Dance Group. Danielle has also worked with Ringling Choreographer Tony Stevens.In New York City, she has taught ethnic dance workshops and joined Djoniba Dance & Drum Centre as a teacher of Brazilian Samba. In 2005, she founded the Brasileirando Dance Group, a company that focuses on disseminating Brazilian folkloric and contemporary dances.
NY Chicago Style Steppers
Formed in 2007, they are the original creators of the Steppers Set in New York & New Jersey. The group has taught, workshopped, demonstrated, and expanded Chicago Style Steppin’ throughout the 5 boroughs as well as New Jersey, and they love what they do. They have collaborated with various community organizations, businesses, and dance associations, and appeared as special guests on local media outlets and at cultural events along the East Coast. They are excited about teaching new students and engaging more communities. For more information about them, go to: www.chicagostylesteppersnyc.com
A native of Winston Salem, NC, Dr. Darian Marcel Parker is a choreographer, author, and entrepreneur. Specializing in Guinean and Malian dance, he has received grant awards from the Jerome Foundation, Harlem Stage Fund for New Work and the New Haven Arts Council. His performance credits include the Hollywood film “Step-Up 3D,” the G’Bassikolo Mexican National Tour, the Fats Waller National Tour, and Dance Africa. Dr. Parker has worked with various dance companies, including Les Ballet de Kouman Kele (Nzingha Camara), Sewee African Dance Company (Mouminatou Camara), Harambee Dance Company (Sandella Malloy), Kouffin Keneke African Dance Company (Aly Tatchol Camara), and Organic Magnetics (Maija Garcia). He has held teaching residencies at such institutions as SUNY Purchase, and has served on the faculties of Harlem School of the Arts, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre’s Youth Arts Academy and Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Parker is the Founder & CEO of Parker Academics, a Manhattan-based test prep and tutoring company that takes a whole-person approach to learning (www.parkeracademics.com. He is also the author of Sartre and No Child Left Behind: An Existential Psychoanalytic Anthropology of Urban Schooling (Rowman & Littlefield Press, 2015) and “The Haze”, which appears in Pedagogies in the Flesh (Palgrave McMillan Press, 2018). He is also an adjunct professor of anthropology in NYU’s Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies. Dr. Parker graduated from Yale University with his PhD, M. Phil and MA in anthropology and African American studies, and from UCLA’s College of Honors with degrees in anthropology and English literature.
Danys “La Mora” Pérez
Danys “La Mora” Pérez is a master of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance from Santiago de Cuba, and has special expertise in the unique styles of her native region of Oriente province. La Mora was a member of Cuba’s national folkloric ballet company, Cutumba, for 18 years, and was granted the designation of primera bailarina and primera profesora by the National Dance Commission of Cuba. She is the founder and artistic director of Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble in New York City.
Ousmane Sall is a master dancer/choreographer and drummer from Senegal, West Africa. He is accomplished in all Senegalese styles of drum and dance and specializes in the Kutiro rhythms. He was born in Senegal to a traditional drum and dance family and was formally trained at the National Dance Academy. He performed for many years in Senegal with the second national dance group of Senegal, National Ballet Senemew, as well as with Silimbo D’Adeane.
Continuing his career in New York, Ousmane has performed extensively at venues such as: The United Nations, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, Symphony Space, The Florence Gould Hall, The Jewish Heritage Museum, Town Hall, Lincoln Center’s Summer Stage and Damrosh Park.
Ousmane has performed with various dance groups, including Sing Sing Rhythms and Maimouna Keita Dance Company, and later formed his own group: YAKAR Roots and Rhythms African Drum and Dance Ensemble. YAKAR has dazzled many audiences in the past five years including performances at ZEYBRAH’s annual Moment In Time Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black History and Culture. Ousmane has also performed and taught workshops at schools, festivals and clubs throughout the United States. He appeared in Bruce Willis’ film, Tears of the Sun and was a percussionist on Hasidic New Wave’s CD From the Belly of Abraham. He taught for many years at Fareta Dance Studio and Djoniba Drum and Dance Center in New York, and currently teaches classes and workshops nationwide.
Lamine Thiam is a world-renowned dancer, choreographer, drummer and actor, and specializes in West African Dance from his native Senegal and neighboring countries, including rhythms such as Sabar, Djembe and Bougarrabou. He has graced the stage at venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, The United Nations and Lincoln Center (NY), as well as theaters in Japan, Germany, London, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Lamine is happy to be back in New York, bringing love to his Sabar students!
Pena Verde is from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He started playing Capoeira when he was 15 years old with Mestre Sabia, the coordinator of The Association of Ginga Mundo Capoeira. Pena has been teaching Capoeira for 9 years. He taught Capoeira classes to children and adults in Salvador, Brazil, Barcelona, Spain, Berlin, Germany, and Paris, France. Currently, he teaches in New York City, at Community Roots Charter School, The Co-op School and Essex Street Academy High School. He has also taught at Bronx International High School, P.S. 372, The Children’s School, Brooklyn Friends School and the Tribeca Community School. Pena believes that Capoeira has been responsible for transforming the lives of people all over the world. For this reason, he is thankful for the opportunity to teach Capoeira in New York City.