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.
Olatunji Ojore is a Brooklyn-born percussionist, visual artist and educator. With a focus on West African and Afro-Caribbean drumming, Olatunji uses rhythm as a learning tool, integrating traditional drumming and early childhood education. In his exciting and interactive lessons, Olatunji takes young learners on a musical journey around the world, introducing them to various instruments and rhythms along the way. As a children’s educator, one of his main goals is to create a safe space that inspires creativity, imagination and children’s natural love of learning. Olatunji’s love for the art has brought him to stages, classrooms and communities around the world. He can presently be heard drumming with Ghanaian drum orchestra, “Akoko Nate” and Ropeadope, a recording artist, and Underground System. Olatunji has taught for Cumbe since 2014 with his Conga Kids class, Uhuru and as our guest Master Drummer for our annual summer camp.
Fitzgerald “Fitz” Sam
Fitz Sam has over 20 years of experience playing and teaching Central African drums and percussion instruments, specializing in Congolese drums. He is currently an instructor at the Brooklyn Music School teaching percussion classes for children and adults. Previously, Fitz taught K-12 students at Cooke Academy schools. He has been both a drummer and accompanist for various African dance classes at Harlem School of the Arts, Alvin Ailey, and Cumbe. Fitz is enthusiastic about sharing his style world-wide in a fun and nurturing atmosphere.
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 over 10 years. He has taught Capoeira classes to children and adults in Salvador, Brazil; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; and Paris, France. Currently, he teaches Capoeira to children in New York City, at Community Roots Charter School, Katmint Learning Initiative and Brooklyn East Collegiate Middle School. He has also taught at Essex Street Academy High School, Bronx International High School, P.S. 372-the Children’s School, P.S. 11, Brooklyn Friends School, Music Time Kids, 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.