Artists

Fara Tolno

Fara Tolno
Fara Tolno was born in Guinea, West Africa. He spent his youth in the village of Kissidugu and Guinea’s capital city, Conakry. Playing djembe since the age of nine, he has traveled extensively performing and teaching both drumming and dance. Fara spent nine years as the lead drummer for Les Merveilles de Guinea (The Wonders of Guinea) under the tutelage of West Africa’s most influential director and choreographer, Kemoko Sano. Fara is a keeper of the history, the music, and the dance in his culture. He holds a vision to build a school of Music, Dance and Education in his home of Guinea, West Africa. This school will help provide a sustainable way to ensure that the knowledge of the music, dance, and history of Guinea will be passed on to the next generation.

Marietou Camara

Marietou Camara

Taught by dance teacher, Yamoussa Soumah, Marietou was invited at a young age to join the world famous dance company, Les Merveilles de Guinée, which was directed by the world renowned dance choreographer Mohamed Kemoko Sano.

She rapidly became one of the group’s celebrated dancers, and toured with Les Merveilles de Guinée for many years. She has also danced with Ballet Djoliba, and with Les Ballet Africans, directed by Italo Zambo.

Now living in the U.S., she travels extensively nationally and internationally as a dance instructor, guest artist at dance conferences, performer, and choreographer.


Soriba Fofana

Soriba Fofana

Master drummer and musician, Ibrahimasory Fofana, also known as Soriba, is from the Susu tribe of people who reside on the coastal region of Guinea, Conakry in West Africa. Soriba’s love for traditional music began at an early age and he began studying with Ali Sylla of Les Percussions de Guinea and later with Morcire Camara of Percussion Wassa. He went on to become Director of music for Percussion Wassa in Matam, Conakry in 2005.

Soriba came to the US in 2009 and began teaching and performing traditional music of Guinea in schools, festivals and in workshops nationwide. He is the director of MORIA, West African Dance & Drum Ensemble in New Mexico. Soriba believes in sharing his traditions with all who are seeking, captivating and inspiring all, as the melodies and ancient rhythms reach the soul and call out to the spirit of the ancestors


Sekou Fofana

Sekou Fofana

Sekou originated from Guinea, West Africa, where he studied drumming from a young age. He has recently moved to the U.S. and began sharing his love for Guinean music and culture.


Rujeko Dumbutshena

Djeneba Sako

Now more than any other time in history, people are being inspired and changed by the movement, music, and stories of Africa. For many years now Rujeko Dumbutshena has strived to bridge diversely different cultures and have successfully been a part of innovative works, taught workshops, and directed conferences to bring together students and audiences as witnesses and participants in the profundity of African art today.

Her Broadway experience as an original ensemble dancer in the hit musical Fela! perfectly represents of the impact Africa has on the world today. Audiences of all ages and cultures are being deeply moved by this contemporary African story. As an African artist living in America, Ms. Dumbutshena continues to enjoy the exploration of blending her diverse cultural influences, while maintaining authenticity. Her mission is to show African artists as legitimate contenders in any arena of contemporary art by expressing the “primitive” in an intellectual voice.

Teaching African movement to contemporary African music breaks away from tradition in such a way that allows Ms. Dumbutshena to redefine movement. The result is a more lyrical expression of self which, in turn, encourages participants to have a deeper relationship with African movement. The lyrics and melodies help to contemporize the dance while the rhythm keeps it grounded in its original form.

Rujeko’s instruction provides a meeting place of cultures. She aspires for the highest western institutional accolades, while standing rooted in the antiquity of my people. As an African artist living in America, Rujeko enjoys the exploration of blending diverse cultural influences, while striving to maintain authenticity.

As well as an experienced university, college and high school dance instructor, Rujeko offers artist in residence programs that foster interest and awareness in the importance of dance as a medium for cultural expression. By teaching the fundamental aesthetics of neo traditional African movement and music, Rujeko emphasizes her native Zimbabwean traditional dances and the internalization of rhythm through movement.


Tata Kaya (Makaya)

Tata Kaya (Makaya)

Tata Kaya (Makaya) is a choreographer, dancer and drummer of Congolese traditional dance as well as contemporary dance. Born and raised in Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) Kayos is an artist who been initiated and ritually trained in the art of Congolese dance and music. His training spans over 2 decades though. He took part in various folkloric dance groups and percussion groups and realized a few pieces. Then, he was engaged in a contemporary group where he developed a new dimension of his art. These seasoned artist-musician and his talents, in traditional and contemporary forms of Congolese-African music and dance, have accorded him opportunities to travel the world and earned him numerous honors and accolades for his excellence and artistic mastery.


Kiazi Malonga

Kiazi Malonga

Congolese drum, song, and language
The ancient Kongo Kingdom, one of Africa’s great empires, covered present-day northern Angola, parts of Gabon and Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This region is ancestral homeland for over two hundred ethnic groups and their dance, music, and theater: forms deeply rooted in religion and ritual that are intertwined in everyday life.

Kiazi Malonga has been learning and performing Congolese drumming and dance as the son and child protégé of his late father, the world-renowned master artist Malonga Casquelourd. Kiazi has performed with his father’s Fuia Dia Congo Performing Arts Company since the age of 6. He has a lifetime of experience performing and teaching Congolese drum and dance, and is the current Musical Director of Fua Dia Congo.

As a artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2013, Kiazi shared with his apprentice Latanya Tigner (a former apprentice of Mukudji, or stilt dance, with master Shaka Zulu) the historical significance and technical intricacies of Congalese drumming.


Peniel Guerrier

Peniel Guerrier

Peniel Guerrier began dancing in 1987 with Professor Herve Maxi in the group Tamboula D’Haiti. Maxi was impressed with his dancing and invited him to study in his dance school, Shana, located in Petionville, Port-au-Prince. After that he auditionedPeniel Guerrier with Dance Company with the National Theater and subsequently danced with the company for eight years. He pursued his studies in L’Ecole Nationale des Arts (ENARTS) for one year. He then danced with Madame Odette Wilner’s company, Bacoulou.

His love of dance comes from his belief that it is a cultural element that reflects every country, region and society. That dance permits different peoples of various origins to distinguish themselves from one another. It is also a physical means of expression that allows him to communicate his predilection and passion for art. The variety of choreographies, rhythms and movements allows him to open himself to the public, expressing his joy, happiness, anger and sadness. Essentially, Peniel believes that dance is a physical exercise that assures well being of both the body and soul.

Peniel’s dream is to learn and master as many traditional dances, of Haiti and Africa as time allows and to become the ambassador of Haitian culture in order to represent Haitian culture worldwide.

Experience: Peniel Guerrier is a master dancer, of Haitian, West African (specifically Guinea & Senegal) and Brazilian dance. He is also a drummer, choreographer and singer. His accomplishments include the following;

• Taught and performed in Chicago, Illinois • Taught at Buxton Academy, Williamstown, MA, USA • Choreographed for Bamidele Dancers & Drummers, MA, USA • Choreographed for Rhythmic Response, VT, USA • Guest Artist at Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College & Greenfield Community College, MA, USA • Primary School Teacher, Saint Thomas D’Aquin • Choreographed Tamboula D’Haiti’s performance “The History of Haiti Through Dance” • Danced in Natl. Theater’s performance “On the Beach” • Teacher at ENARTS & The National Theater • Led workshops at Djoniba Dance & Drum Center, Abizaid, & Dinizulu in NYC, USA • Lead dancer in Nocole Lumarque’s company, Ballet Folklorique D’Haiti’s performance “Erzulu” • Collaborated on Choreography of joint performance of Tamboula D’Haiti & Artcho • Led workshop at Alenn Dance Studio, Buffalo, NY, USA • Dancer in Calumet Arts Cafe’s performance • Guest Choreographer, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, USA • Led workshop, Museum of Natural History, NYC, USA • Led workshop at Doigts de Fee Dance Company, Elizabeth, NJ, USA• Choreographed for Tamboula D’Haiti’s performance “Encounter of Two Worlds” • Choreographed music videos for the following groups: Chandel; Rasin Mapou D’Azor; Rara Music Machin, USA; Congo, USA; Bwa Kayiman, Bonswai for the Kongo Group • Researched Soukr Danache; Lakou Souvenans; Lakou Badjo; Dereal; various peristyles • CD’s; Kongo, Afro Haitian Roots, Bamidele Dancer’s & Drummers


Jean – Guy Renee

Jean - Guy Renee

Jean – Guy Renee

Kim Strunk

Kim Strunk

Kim Strunk, originally from Corpus Christi, TX, is a dance artist, educator and administrator whose professional and academic career spans over three decades. From 1984-1996, Kim garnered national recognition as a charismatic lead dancer with Repertory Dance Theatre. In 1992, while still performing with RDT, Kim delved into Congolese dance as a participant in the annual Congolese Dance and Drum Workshop in Northern California. This cultural immersion ignited her passion for African dance and led to focused studies in Congolese and West African dance and culture. In 1996, Kim founded RDT’s Community School African dance class. Executive/Artistic Director,Linda C. Smith stated: “Kim didn’t just start a class, she built a movement, an appetite for African dance in Utah.” In 2002, Kim earned an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah after defending her thesis “Coming to Voice as a Contemporary Artist through the Investigation of African Art and Motion.” Upon graduation, Kim joined the faculty at Utah Valley University where she served as Department Chair for eight years and attained the rank of Associate Professor before retiring in 2014. She currently resides in Spanish Wells, Bahamas where she has taken up dancing on her paddle board.

Stacy Peterson

Stacy Peterson

Early in life, Stacy recognized a deep spiritual connection to nature. Growing up recreating in the mountains of Utah, she quickly discovered an inner peace that would arise when she was outside in the natural world. After receiving a BFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah in 2003, she understood that her spirituality was deeply rooted in both movement and nature. In 2007 Stacy completed her Yoga teaching certification with Dana Baptiste and began developing Earthflow Yoga. Earthflow Yoga is a culmination of Stacy’s life experience. Her classes offer a unique blend of physicality, flow and introspection inspired by the systems and cycles of the Earth.

Stacy’s classes cater to athletes and dancers and those who resonate with the natural world. She teaches Vinyasa Yoga, a style of Yoga that focuses on linking poses together through the wave and rhythm of the breath. Each class focuses on alignment and injury prevention and offers students the opportunity to explore their physicality with greater integrity, authenticity and awareness.

“Yoga has transformed my life and I became a teacher to help others experience the benefits of this amazing practice.” In addition to Yoga, Stacy is a certified Hypnotherapist, Nutrition Counselor, Oneness Trainer and Kids Yoga Instructor. Her passion and goal in teaching Yoga is to empower others with the skills of self-reflection, awareness and breath, for the purpose of greater consciousness and connection in life.