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Roots and Routes: How African diasporic dance forms conquered world stages
Tuesday 23 July 2024, with Akosua Boakye BEM and Jreena Green

This is an opportunity for anyone with any level of experience or interest in Black dance forms to engage in informed, fun and physical ways with some vital yet frequently under-explored dance history.

Join Akosua Boakye BEM from AkomaAsa Arts, dance leader, lecturer and West End casting co- ordinator with Jreena Green dance historian and choreographer for adverts, film and tv, for the journey of thousand lifetimes in a day! In a relaxed, positive and welcoming atmosphere. this is an opportunity for anyone with any level of experience or interest in Black dance forms to engage in informed, fun and physical ways with some vital yet frequently under-explored dance history. It is also offers insight into Akosua’s decades of youth dance practice now manifesting in the development of England’s first Black dance-based Centre for Advanced Training scheme (CAT) hosted by The Place and proudly supported 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 ‘urban’ dance styles which dominate 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 and allyship with Black Dance as well as for experienced artists and dance leaders interested to better honour and articulate the roots of Black Dance forms.

This one-day course is ideal for early career artists, teachers/lecturers needing an overview and more experienced artists considering developing a specialism in this area of work.

Above image credit: People Dancing Sumer School. Photo: Rachel Cherry.

£60 People Dancing Members / £87 Standard

Book your place here

Standard price tickets include People Dancing Associate Individual Membership for one year with the joining fee wavered. To find out more about the benefits of this membership please click Associate Individual Membership.

About Akosua Boakye BEM

Akosua is the founder of AkomaAsa Arts, a multi-disciplinary arts education and cultural empowerment organisation. AkomaAsa works with performing arts disciplines through social, cultural, creative, and historical relationships to support young individuals to be open-minded, embrace diverse contemporary dance forms, develop a deeper understanding of dance traditions, their heritage, and different cultures. Akosua has set up and led several small businesses and initiatives and founded AkomaAsa in 2012.

Overall, she is passionate about working with children and young people (CYP), guiding those of African, Caribbean heritage to develop skills for life, embrace their rich, diverse cultural heritage. Her work supports and mentors young people through empowerment, aspire as future cultural leaders, understand how cultural heritage reflects their past, shapes their present, and builds their future.

She is the Cub Academy coordinator and Children’s Casting Director for Disney’s West End musical, The Lion King, London and UK tour, an experienced leader, teacher, speaker, and host.

In 2018, Akosua was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to dance. Akosua also co-founded and is an executive leader on The Thea Barnes Legacy fund, a donor-supported independent fund established in 2019 to offer bursaries to dancers, researchers, and choreographers looking to further their careers in dance and the performing arts. She served on the board of Urdang from 2020 - 2022 and holds a seat on several other boards.

Image credit: Akosua Boakye BEM. Photo: Simon Richardson.

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.