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Roots and routes: How African diasporic dance forms conquered world stages

Tuesday 26 July, full day

Tutors: Akosua Boakye BEM and Jreena Green

Join Akosua Boakye BEM, founder of AkomaAsa Arts, creative industry leader, lecturer and Disney Lion King children’s casting director with Jreena Green, dance historian and choreographer for adverts, film and tv, for the journey of thousand lifetimes in a day!

In a relaxed, safe and welcoming atmosphere, this is an opportunity for anyone with any level of experience or interest in African diaspora dance forms to engage in an informed, fun and physical way with some vital yet frequently under-explored historical dance context. The day also offers insight into Akosua’s dance practice for adults, children and young people, which is now being developed into England’s first African diaspora dance and music programme at AkomaAsa Arts under the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) scheme supported by The Place and by People Dancing.

With lively commentary, the day moves literally step by step from West African dance fundamentals across the Atlantic through authentic jazz dance and ends in our own living rooms with a better understanding of the African diaspora dance styles that have influenced Western dance forms and dominated our screens from MTV to adverts, to the inclusion of Hip Hop in the 2024 Olympics.

This is a broad-based course for anyone seeking to improve their understanding of and allyship with African dance forms as well as for experienced artists and dance leaders interested in better honouring and articulating the roots of these forms.

Above image credit: Photo: Annalisa Banello.

About Akosua Boakye BEM

Akosua is a creative industry leader, lecturer and Children’s Casting Director for Disney’s The Lion King musical productions, West End and UK tour.

She is the founder and director of AkomaAsa Arts, which offers training in Western and African diaspora dance and performing arts.

Akosua is a portfolio career professional with over 20 years of experience in education, theatre and community arts settings. She plays a key role in developing young talent and adults alike for careers in dance and the performing arts industry in Britain. Her work widens participation for under-represented groups to engage in the creative industry and education.

Akosua is a recipient of the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora Trailblazer Fellowship, One Dance UK Dance Teaching Mentoring Programme, British Empire Medal and Black Business Incubator Award.

Image credit: Akosua Boakye BEM. Photo: Aiyana Phokeerdoss.

About Jreena Green

Jreena is a professional dancer, choreographer, dance teacher and 'practical dance historian'. She studied at The London Contemporary Dance School and did a degree in Dance Studies at Middlesex University. She has her own dance company Jazz Dance Elite who tour nationally in the show ‘Swinging At The Cotton Club’, and she previously featured in the Len Goodman documentary series 'Cheek To Cheek' where she demonstrated historical African American dance forms. Recent credits as choreographer include majorcommercials for Guinness, M&S, Balmain, Youtube, Google, KFC, Mr Muscle and Levis and the feature film ‘The Phantom of the Open’ for Working Title films. Credits as a dancer/actress include leads in 'Falling' for Green Candle Dance Company, 'Mrs Wobble' for Theatre Peckham and 'The Josephine Baker Show' and ‘The Joe Harriot Show’ which she also wrote and produced. She was an assistant dance captain/choreographic assistant on the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and has a background performing in West End musicals (she was original cast of the Tony award winning show 'The Lion King'), choreographing music videos and feature films and doing international tours with established musical acts.

Jreena has taught Jazz dance at numerous institutions including The Laban Centre, Theatre Peckham, Guilford School of Acting, The Musical Theatre Academy and Mountview College. As part of her teaching practice, she has developed a module entitled 'Charleston To Hip Hop' which explores the links between current urban dance styles and African American dance styles from the 1920's. Her students have won numerous dance awards including the Southwark dance Challenge.

Image credit: Jreena Green. Photo: Orson Nava.

About AkomaAsa Arts

AkomaAsa Arts is a community arts education organisation that offers Western and African diaspora performing arts training for children and young people (CYP) aged 6- 16+ through two educational programmes: African Diaspora Dance & Music and Performing Arts.

In a dynamically vibrant, caring and safe environment, CYP are supported to engage, inspired to learn and develop the confidence and self-esteem needed to rise to day to day challenges.

CYP at AkomaAsa are supported to be themselves, empowered through the arts to have fun, take risks and work towards their aspirations whilst developing transferable skills for life.

Founded by Akosua Boakye BEM in 2005 and launched in 2012 through effective collaborative working relationships, its programmes are tailored to nurture the next generation of creators and performers. AkomaAsa Arts works with creative individuals, organisations, the support of parents and the voices of its CYP. AkomaAsa advocates for the development of African diaspora dance and music education, training, pathways, progression routes and opportunities that offer inclusive curriculums.