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 artist, Jidenna. She's made appearances at the BET award preshow 2016, MTV Video Music Award pre- show 2017, and music videos “Little Bit More” and "Boomerang". 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.
Ronald K Brown
Brown founded Evidence, A Dance Company in1985. He has worked with Mary Anthony Dance Theater, Jennifer Muller/The Works and other choreographers and artists. Brown has set works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Cleo Parker Robinson Ensemble, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Philadanco, Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago and Ballet Hispanico.
He has collaborated with such artists as composer/designer Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, the late writer Craig G. Harris, director Ernie McClintock’s Jazz Actors Theater, choreographers Patricia Hoffbauer and Rokiya Kone, and composers Robert Een, Oliver Lake, Bernadette Speech, David Simons, and Don Meissner
He choreographed Regina Taylor’s award-winning play, Crowns and won an AUDELCO Award for his work on that production. Brown has won a Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Tony winning The Gershwin's Porgy & Bess, adapted by Suzan Lori Parks, arrangement by Diedre Murray & directed by Diane Paulus.
In addition Brown was named Def Dance Jam Workshop Mentor of the Year in 2000 and has received; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Choreographers Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, and The Ailey Apex Award for teaching. Brown is a member of Stage Directors & Choreographers Society.
Bintou Kouyate, born in Washington, DC, is the youngest of her siblings and performs professionally, continuing the cultural and musical path of her family as a dynamic dancer, singer, educator and performing artist of Manding traditions. The 150th generation of the Kouyate lineage of her father, Diali Djimo Kouyate, Bintou performs with Farafina Kan, Memory of African Culture/The Kouyate Family and teaches children and adults for various community organizations. She has toured and studied internationally in Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Gambia and Colombia, South America
She began her professional dancing career at the precious age of 5 in New York City under the auspices of Marie Basse Wiles, founder and director of Maimouna Keita School of West African. She currently performs and teaches with the D.C. based company, Farafina Kan. She is the principle instructor and choreographer for the junior company of Farafina Kan and is an incredible dancer, teacher and choregrapher.
Lesina Martin, a student of African dance from the moment she was born, took some of her first steps inside her mother’s dance classes. By age 11 she’d made her first journey to Africa—followed in time by six more educational and performance trips—and by age 15 she was already teaching classes herself. So it’s hardly surprising that her passion has blossomed into a career: she has not only co-founded the Nsaa Dance Ensemble, the first official African dance organization at Howard University, but has also participated in televised performances across the US, danced in Cote D’Ivoire’s Independence Day celebration in 2008, and become a member of Farafina Kan, a professional dance troupe in DC.
Shola K. Roberts is a Grenadian international performing professional dancer, dance educator, choreographer and fitness instructor based in Brooklyn, New York.
In 2019, Shola was selected as one of the eight candidates to pursue her Doctoral degree in Dance Education at Columbia University.
Shola attended Howard University and earned her BFA in Dance and Caribbean Studies. She was a part of the last graduating class that studied under the tutelage of the late Dr. Sherrill Berryman Johnson. She currently serves as the Dance Educator and Arts Liason for MS 354- School of Integrated Learning in the Crown Heights region of Brooklyn.
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.
Ntifafa attended Grand Valley State University in Michigan receiving her Bachelors of Arts in Dance. ... She now performs as an independent artist with Maimouna Keita Dance Company, Fusha Dance, and Les Enfants du Soleil amongst a few companies and has just earned a Masters in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College.
Amadou Kouyate is the 150th generation of the Kouyate family of Manding Diali (oral historians/musicians of West Africa) and the first generation born of his father’s lineage in America.
Amadou performs a musical montage on the 21-string Kora and rhythmic presentations on Djembe and Koutiro drums. His repertoire ranges from traditional songs from the 13th century to original contemporary compositions incorporating blues and jazz riffs.
In addition to his solo work, Amadou Kouyate performs with guest artists as well as with The Kouyate Family, Urban Afrikan, Farafina Kan, Manding Jata and Spank Rock.
His credits include performances at The Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Bristol Academy and Isle of White (England), Tim Festival (Brazil), Lowell, East-Lansing and Dayton National Folk Festivals, DanceAfrica DC, New York and Chicago, with The National Symphony Orchestra, the production "Soul Possessed," directed by Debbie Allen, at Carnegie Hall with Sweet Honey in The Rock.