Solo Sana is an accomplished traditional dancer from Mali, West Africa. A principal member for one of the premiere companies of Mali, Ballet Du District de Bamako, he has proven himself as a leader among the artists. Solo’s presence at local ceremonies and festivals is in high demand, performing with renowned griots and musicians. He has also performed with internationally known artists such as Djeneba Seck and Oumou Sangare. With an extensive knowledge of traditional dances of the Mande culture he is has become a highly sought after instructor for private and group lessons. Solo has taught students from France, Italy, US, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Morocco, and other countries of Africa. He is currently in the US performing, teaching workshops and leading school residencies for Jeh Kulu Dance in Drum Theater as well as independently. His recent work includes dance instruction at the University of Vermont for the academic year as well as featured Artist in Residence at UNC-Greensboro creating original choreography for Robin Gee’s Sugarfoote Productions. Recently he has participated in a cultural exchange in Liberia working with local artists who are reviving their music and dance scene after more than a decade of struggle due to a 13 year civil war.
Seydou Coulibaly is one of Mali’s leading dancers, teachers, and choreographers. He was named Mali’s #1 dancer in the final Biennale arts competition before the coup d’état in 1990. He then founded and was artistic director of Mali’s nationally respected and award-winning Troupe Komée Josée, which toured throughout Mali. Seydou now also works extensively in the US, where he teaches Mande dance, music and culture at Wheaton College, Brown University, and at his long-running class at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA. Seydou also runs Yeredon, a cross-cultural school in Bamako, which aims to bring a greater knowledge of Malian culture to foreigners while preserving the work of Mali’s most talented artists. His film credits include Steven Spielberg's “Amistad”, “Mali Djembekan”, “Street Party in Lafiabougou”, and numerous educational films on Malian music, dance and culture. Seydou’s djun-djun playing can be heard on Mohamed Kalifa Kamara’s Africa Kanben.
Moussa Traore was born and raised in Mali and has been playing the djembe for the past thirty years. In 1984 he was deemed a "master" by his teacher, Sega Cissé, and is considered to be one of the top djembe players in Mali. Moussa has achieved great recognition throughout Mali as an accomplished musician in traditional ceremonies as well as the Malian pop scene. Since moving to the U.S. Moussa has continued to distinguish himself as a highly respected teacher and performer: he has given drum workshops in cities throughout the country and now teaches classes, leads drum ensembles for West African dance classes and performs with other Malian artists.
Michelle Bach-Coulibaly is the Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University and director of the Yeredon Center for Cultural Preservation and Social Engagement in Mali, West Africa. At the Yeredon Center students, scholars, medical practitioners, and artist-activists collaborate on service learning projects for radio, television, musical and concert stage productions, festival performances, and film that address relevant social issues and injustices. Michelle is the artistic director of New Works / World Traditions at Brown, with whom she has choreographed over 35 original works that fuse research, image, and high energy performances.
Ousmane Wiles (Omari Mizrahi), age 26, was born in Senegal. He began his training in West African dance at the age of 6 years old. He then joined with his mother Marie Basse Wiles, a known master in West African dance. Ousmane continued his training with his mothers company The Maimouna Keita School of African Dance as a member of their children's company. He later became the assistant director of his mother's company, and his choreographic work was viewed by many. Venturing further into the world of dance, he found himself learning, training, and falling in love with other styles of dance such as Hip Hop, ballet, modern, pop, house, and vogue. Ousmane has been given the chance to work with many artists in and out of the USA, including John Legend, Zuma Zuma, Wunmi, Hassan Boukray, Lil' Mama, Estelle, Gala Kesha, Kenya Moore, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Lady Gaga. He adopted a new name, "Omari Mizrahi" or "Omari Tipton." Ousmane is now working on creating his own style of dance blending African, Vogue, and House as one.
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia began street performing with such crews such as The Transformers, The Breeze Team, and the New York City Float Committee. In '94 she ran into Kwikstep who urged her to audition for GhettOriginal- a Hip-Hop dance company. She was cast and became further exposed to the "old school" dance technique. After experiencing international appreciation for Hip-Hop, she decided to offer classes back home to prevent it's fading away. She has taught workshops at NYU and Howard as well as neighborhood high schools and community centers. The nonprofit company she co founded with her husband, "Full Circle Prod", serves the community with educational performances and multimedia urban-themed performances. They presented "Soular Power'd" on Broadway's New Victory Theater which received rave reviews, and was their Hip-Hop theater directorial debut. She is presently producing a documentary based on the challenging lifestyles of female break dancers featuring b girls from all over the world. She represents the positive image of a woman confident in both her Puerto Rican and Hip-Hop cultures. She believes this culture was born to help urban youth get through the ups and downs of life with something to hold on to. Her film, All The Ladies Say, is about six women carving a niche for themselves in the male-dominated world of breakdancing.
Jamal Jackson was born in Brooklyn, New York and began his formal studies of movement with the Harlem based Batoto Yetu Dance Company. His pursuit of dance led him to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he received the Weston Award for his contribution to the Fusion Dance Company and New Works/World Traditions African Dance Company from 1996-2000. Jamal studied with Michelle Bach-Coulibaly, Seydou Coulibaly, and Fred Benjamin and worked under M’ba Coulibaly, Salimata Soumare from Kelete Dance Theatre, and Ba Issa Diallo, director of Troupe District du Bamako in Mali, West Africa. Jamal choreographed for the New York Arts Festival and Inaya Day in 2002, marking the beginning of his African based, modern style of movement. Jamal performed with Ballet International Africans for two seasons as a principal dancer and in 2004 he founded the Jamal Jackson Dance Company, which debuted Images of the Union at University Settlement in New York and at Westport Hall in Connecticut. Jamal Jackson Dance Company has established a strong presence in and out of New York City, performing year round in festivals, self-produced shows, community outreach programs and private events. The company has presented work at venues including: Mark Morris Dance Center, Jacob’s Pillow, NYC Summerstage Concert Series, DanceNow Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, Battery Downtown Dance Festival, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Brown University, Equality Now’s 20th Anniversary, Big Range Festival in Austin, TX, The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, and Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, NY. Jamal has also created work for the Diversity in Dance Project at The Yard alongside the Urban Bush Women and the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company.
Michele Baer is a multicultural dancer, choreographer, arts advocate, and administrator. Her dance studies and performances have comprised of hiphop, house, West African (Guinea and Mali), Haitian, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-fusion dance traditions. When she choreographs, her work is oftentimes a melange of these. Michele was first exposed to dance from the African diaspora at Brown University, where she became a Teaching Assistant in the Mande/West African dance course and traveled to Bamako, Mali twice to study dance. After graduation, she relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where expanded her studies and performed with Tania Santiago in Aguas da Bahia, with Joti Singh in Duniya Dance and Drum Company, and with an Oakland-based Afro-fusion dance collective called Mistura Linha. Also in the Bay, she worked with dance organizations Dancers’ Group and World Arts West and taught an Afro-Urban Dance class in Oakland. Since March 2013 she has been living and dancing in New York City, and she is now an M.A. Candidate in Arts Administration at Columbia University.
Aaron Jungels is one of the artistic directors and founders of Everett Theatre Company, an interdisciplinary theatre company that uses multi-media concert works involving dance, theater, and video to explore themes ranging from science to labor to mass incarceration. They have performed in Dance Theatre Workshop, New York; Spoleto Dance Festival, South Carolina, and Walker Arts Center, Minnesota. Everett has received antional recognition from publications such as Dance Magazine, The Yorker, and the New York Times. Everett’s works have been commissioned by the Besse Schonberg/First Light commissioning program, Alverno College, Contemporary Dance Theatre, Dance Theater Workshop, New World Theater, and the National Performing Network Creation Fund. Support for the creation of Everett’s works has been provided by the LEF Foundation, Mardi Gras Fund, National Dance Project, National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1990, Everett founded their school that offers ongoing classes in the performing arts to inner-city youth.
Stephanie Turner is dancer/choreographer based in Providence, RI. Her choreographic work has been performed in Providence, RI at the RISD museum, The Movement Exchange, Rhode Island College; at Fidget in Philadelphia, PA and CRS in New York, NY. Stephanie is currently performing for New Works Movement Theatre and independent choreographer, Betsy Miller. She has been practicing Contact Improvisation for 6 years and is currently an adjunct professor at Brown University and facilitates weekly jams and classes for Contact Improv Providence. She is the owner and director of The Movement Exchange in Pawtucket, RI, producing and supporting dance events and classes. She holds a BFA in dance performance from Rhode Island College.
Project 401 is a collective of Hip Hop artists based in Rhode Island who use Hip Hop culture to engage with communities and relay positive social messages to youth. The group hosts free weekly dance sessions, perform for community events, coordinate Hip Hop youth programs with NGOs, and also organize community events that bring the positive art of Hip Hop to communities throughout Rhode Island and the greater New England area.
Sharon Kivenko is a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology at Harvard University. Her doctoral dissertation, “Mobile Bodies: Transnationalism and Embodiment in Malian Dance” focuses on the effects of transnational migration on the embodied practices and social relations of Malian dancers and musicians, and on their non-Malian protégés. In March 2011, Sharon co-organized and presented at "African DANCE DIASPORA: A Symposium on Embodied Knowledge" at Harvard University. The symposium was a gathering of nationally and internationally recognized scholars, dancers, and musicians called together to perform and discuss embodied knowledge in the context of the African Diaspora. Sharon has performed and studied with Malian artists including, Sidi Mohammed “Joh” Camara, Seydou and Michelle Bach-Coulibaly, Issa Coulibaly, Dejeneba Sacko, and Moussa Traoré. In 2009-2010, while conducting field research for her dissertation in Bamako, she studied at the Yeredon Center for the Malian Arts under M’ba Coulibaly, and apprenticed with the award-winning Troupe Artistique et Culturelle du District de Bamako directed by Ba Issa Diallo. Sharon is also a certified Integrative Yoga Therapeutics teacher and a therapist in the Integrative Yoga Therapeutics Collaborative.
Sophie Shackleton is a producer-in-training of international performing artists. She is the Project Coordinator for BAM’s cultural diplomacy program in partnership with the US Department of State, where she facilitates international exchanges in contemporary dance and works on special marketing initiatives with artists worldwide. Prior to BAM, she worked for three years with musicians and dancers in Bamako, Mali, and served as Producer of Brown University’s African Performance Festival. She has worked with artists from throughout West Africa, as well as Burundi, Argentina, Korea, China, Europe, and the US. She has a BA in Theatre Arts from Brown University, where she trained as a theater director.
Matthew Rolando Garza, a native South Texan, is an educator and performance artist in New York. After attending Brown University where he studied education history and interdisciplinary performance, Matt earned his M.A. in Social Studies Education & Educational Theatre with the Steinhardt School at New York University. A Watson Institute Associate, Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brother’s Fund Fellow & Art21 Educator, Matt currently teaches Visual Arts & Technology at an independent school in Manhattan and regularly facilitates aesthetic-based workshops to build collaborative, communication, divergent thinking, and community-building goals with international performance ensembles, educators, corporate entities, and mental health professionals. Matt’s artwork and research explores the intersection of identity, big history, and the human capacity for social learning through public installations, performance, painting, and film.
Nora Fox writes music that draws from traditions of folk, classical, soul, and pop. A New England native, she began performing at the Tony Award-winning Goodspeed Opera House, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, and in the Broadway revival of The Sound of Music. Fox holds a degree in Literary Arts from Brown University and is currently based in New York City, where she performs regularly. Recently, she has toured the US and Canada, South America, the Mediterranean, and has performed in the NY Musical Festival, Women Center Festival, and American Dance Festival. She is currently working on her debut album, which is due to release this year.
Ethan Philbrick is a performer and writer based in New York. He is currently pursuing his PhD at NYU's Performance Studies department where he writes about sex, art, and communism. He has recently shown work at SculptureCenter, Cage Gallery, and with Nora Fox at the Bitter End. He has worked closely with Anna Deavere Smith and Karen Finley and is currently an assistant editor at The Drama Review. At Brown, Ethan was a member of New Works/World Traditions and traveled with New Works to Mali as part of the Bloodline project.
Themba Mkhatshwa is a graduate of Berklee College of Music where he majored in Professional Music. A percussionist born in Baltimore, Maryland, Themba has had the opportunity to perform internationally in places such as Greece, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, the Ivory Coast, Malaysia, the Caribbean, and South Africa. Themba has also had the opportunity to perform on the TV show Dr. OZ, tour with the Donald Harrison Quintet, and study under Ralph Peterson, Mamady Keita, Moussa Traore, Menes Yahudah and Terri Lynn Carrington.
Kofi Atsimevu hails from Richmond, California, and is a scholarship recipient at the Berklee College of Music. Through the many ups and downs that life has brought, Kofi has found a true love for the art of drumming, and is expanding his medium of self-expression through studying drum techniques from a variety of cultures.
Munir Richard has been around music his entire life. Born in Baltimore, MD, raised in Atlanta, GA, Munir began playing djembe and other musical instruments at the age of two. Through much hard work developing his talents, he now attends Berklee College of Music. Munir is a great spirit who strives hard to spread his love for life through his music every day.