Meet our instructors
Dance has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember and the art of performance began at age 7. Sometime later, the desire for broader understanding and the skills to heal magnified, inspiring an enduring journey to medical school as a single mother, dancer, choreographer, entrepreneur and all around community developer. Since graduating from Meharry Medical College with an M.D., she has been working as an internal medicine physician in Atlanta Georgia. She has performed and studied internationally and is a perpetual student.
Akosua made her first appearance on stage at age 3. Her early work in choreography and dance instruction began at age 13 for a collection of after school programs in the Washington DC metropolitan area. She taught her first adult West African dance class at age 15, an achievement that would jump start her career as a choreographer and director. Attending Howard University, Akosua’s track record spans a series of choreo- graphic work and features with recording artists and production companies including Jidenna, Janet Jackson, Estelle, Machel Montano, Busta Rhymes, Marvel, Paramount Pictures, MTV, BET and others. She's also danced under the direction of Ronald K. Brown and alongside artists such as Wale, Fally Ipupa, Viuex farka Toure, and Iyanya, to name a few. She is the creator of the international ASA! dance fitness program, founder of the SBJ West African Dance and Mentorship program, co-founder of the 5 The Hard Way New Year’s Eve Bash, and the Artistic Director of the hit Afrobeat dance company, ASA! Kelenya. She currently works as a personal trainer and rehabilitation specialist. She continues to teach and perform traditional west African dance through her works with Fara Fina Kan. Previous works in traditional dance include touring in Cote D’Ivoire with Nai Zou and Co, an experience that has allowed her to bridge the Akan and Mading traditions into which she was born. She continues to perform and instruct nationally, internationally and in collaboration with various world-renowned musicians and choreographers.
Francine received her B.F.A in Dance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and studied at many dance intensives, including the American Dance Festival and Jacob’s Pillow, where she received scholarships. She has worked, studied and danced with Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company, Brian Green, and Tony Kundu among others. She has had the opportunity to teach many workshops, classes and residencies and her choreography has been showcased at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival, Homegrown at the CAC in New Orleans, APAP, SummerStage Dance, BAM: Black Brooklyn Renaissance, Dance Harlem, Aaron Davis Hall, Dance Place in Washington, D.C. Ms. Ott also has her own company, Francine E. Ott/The Walk, where she integrates the arts with the mental health field allowing a person to find their voice, and healing through a unique therapeutic process, while also providing a space for growth, change, and transformation in their life.
Mahiri, affectionately known as Baba M, is an internationally recognized leader in the study, practice, and preservation of Mande traditions. Mahiri was introduced to the drum at age 4. He is the founder of the Farafina Kan and its many professional and communal enterprises. He has maintained the teachings of drum and dance throughout his community, the country, and as far across the globe as Japan. As the son in tradition of Djali Djimbo Kouyate and Mamady Keita, Mahiri maintains a cultural ambassador position in various parts of West Africa and the Diaspora.
An Ohio native who has always been addicted to movement. She attended Howard University in Washington D.C. and earned her B.F.A. in Dance. In the middle of her senior year while earning her degree she began interning with the Tony Award winning choreographer of the Lion King, Garth Fagan. Upon graduation she joined his company Garth Fagan Dance based in Rochester, New York. During her 5 years as a company member she quickly became a principal senior dancer in the company. Some of her most memorable moments include performing with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Jessye Norman, the Ying Quartet and choreographing for Sean Penn's Haiti relief organization JP/HRO. When she is not on stage performing she places a great deal of emphasis on sharing the art of dance through choreographing and teaching Modern, Tap, Jazz, Afro-Caribbean, and Liturgical. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Dance Major program at Youngstown State University. It is with great pride that she has founded Lindsay Renea Dance Theatre to bring the art of dance, creative wellness and cultural diversity to her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. She is received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Choreography from Jacksonville University April of 2017.
Afia Nson Bonsu
Afia Nson Bonsu is a veteran Educator and an incredible all-around artist. She served as an art, step and dance instructor for elementary students in the Washington DC metropolitan area from 1998- 2006. She is the official creator of the dance/step team 'Taratibu', founded in 1979; a program that has served the community, and contributed greatly to the art of step along the east coast. She has conducted professional development sessions for educators, sewing workshops, and even life coaching sessions. In addition to her many partnerships with various organizations and her amazing work as a private seamstress, Afia also serves as assistant costume designer for select Caribbean carnival bands in Antigua, constructing wearable masks and headpieces. Afia has devoted every aspect of her life to her children. Though she has birthed 4, she has and continues to raise, inspire and influence children across communities. “Now that [her] children are grown”, Ms. Bonsu is actively reestablishing her art career. She currently manages and facilitates an acclaimed homeschool academy for infants and toddlers using art to produce original learning supplies. Her company, Rhythm-N-Flow LLC, has been in operation since 2011and shall be releasing the long-awaited and highly requested curriculum to be accompanied by earning supplies inspired by her original artwork. Afia Nson Bonsu has committed her life to serving others through her talents and creations.
The daughter company of Memory of African Culture, Farafina Kan was established in 2004 by the students and children in tradition of Mande legends Djali Djimo Kouyate, Akua Kouyate, and Mamady Keita. Throughout their near 20 year reign, Farafina Kan has developed an international reputation of authentic tradition, musical innovation, dance percission, and the preservation of Manding cultural arts and traditions. Its founding members have created numerous community outreach programs and solidified a place for West African cultural arts in the Diaspora as well countries of origin including Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and Ghana. Farafina Kan's educational services are on par with their infamous performances on stages around the world.