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YENSA Festival exciting virtual dance projects

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These projects are made possible thanks to Canadian Heritage.

Phenomenal Black Women in Dance

YENSA Festival and Lua Shayenne Dance Company  celebrated International Women’s Day 2023 with an activation campaign on gender equity.

Phenomenal Black Women in Dance features four young black women making their mark in the dance industry: Meydge Anguiley, Monique Pascall, Amy Sylla and Kemora Manning.

A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
It’s not just something we say.
It’s not just something we write about.
It’s something we need to think about, know, and embrace.
Equity means creating a fair and equal world.
From grassroots action to wide-scale momentum, we can all embrace equity.
Don’t just say it. Think it. Be it. Do it. Value it.
Truly embrace it.

Producer & Curator: Lua Shayenne
Videographer & Editor: Kwasi Obeng-Adjei
Assistant Producer: Miranda Liverpool


YENSA Festival invites you to participate in I GOT MOVES, a series that follows Toronto-based black female dancers calling for everyone to dance no matter the age. Every Saturday starting March 18, these passionate black women dance instructors will be teaching easy dance steps from a variety of dance styles.

Dance from the comfort of your home!

I GOT MOVES highlights five resilient black women: Rosie Harbans, Kayanna Aldred, Janice Ellis, Kayla Renee-Wilson and Nadjema Soro.

Teaching/sharing knowledge is essential to a strong community and being able to give to my community, especially through something I love like dance, fills my heart to the max! ~ Nadjema

My desire to share and teach sits in the ability to connect the past to the present because the past is the present ~ Kayla-Renée

Producer & Curator: Lua Shayenne
Videographer & Editor: Kwasi Obeng-Adjei
Assistant Producer: Miranda Liverpool


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DANCER (IWD 2023) 

A choreographer and educator, Monique is a graduate of Wexford Collegiate school of the arts and graduated with a BFA in Performance Dance at Toronto Metropolitan University in the Performance Dance program. Performing highlights include ManifesTO, Dance Ontario DanceWeekend, AfroFest. She also was an invited guest performer at the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition in Trinidad & Tobago. She has worked with choreographers such as Andrea Nann, Emilio Colalillo, Angela Blumberg, Lua Shayenne, Natasha Powell and Esie Mensah. Monique has been feature ind music videos for Canadian Artists such as Akil Elijah, Charmaine, Shopé and Shad.K. A passionate teacher, she has been teaching Hip-Hop, Jazz and Afro-Caribbean dance for 5 years and continues to focus her teaching on African influenced styles and cultures. Monique’s passion is to educate black youth about their roots, culture and expression and, continues to aim for authenticity and acceptance of diverse artistic expressions.

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Meydge is an enthusiastic, passionate international dance artist, originally from Paris, France. Growing up enjoying music and dance, Meydge built a strong foundation in movement. Meydge has had the opportunity to train and perform on multiple platforms in the United States, Switzerland, France, South Korea, and Canada. She trained in various dance styles, such as Hip-Hop, Afro, Dancehall, Reggaeton, and Jazz Funk. Meydge is currently a member of Reverb, directed by Fizz Oladiran, where she continues to train in multiple street dance styles. Meydge’s skillful performance and commitment to excellence have caught the attention of multiple notable choreographers and led to her being invited to perform on stages such as the Juno Awards (2022) and the EFE Magazine VZN Awards Show (2022). Her unique vibrant personality and strong work ethic, makes her a preferred performer and dancer in the community.

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Kemora is a dancer trained in tap, ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, Afro-Caribbean, and traditional West African Dance – with a specific focus on the dances of Guinea. She is also a skilled musician with experience playing both the alto saxophone and the djembe. Her dance journey, which started at age four, has included training at York University, Etobicoke School of the Arts, Ngoma Ensemble, and CYDT. Dancing has allowed her to travel and represent Canada in international dance festivals in Scotland, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad. Kemora has been able to transfer her diverse skillset and has directed two productions, “Owning Our Roots, Telling Our Truths” and “Black as Bright as the Sun.” Beyond dance, Kemora has spoken on panels at Harvard University, University of Toronto, and both the International Association of Blacks in Dance and Pop Moves Conference.

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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Lead by day, Amy is a dancer, model, and podcast host by night. Born and raised in France with a Senegalese background, she is a passionate, dynamic and multi-faceted dancer whose styles range from Afro-fusion and urban dance styles. Fervent about telling stories in front of a camera, she landed several music videos and other creative endeavours, such as a Disney movie and a Netflix TV show. Dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices and Black female artists who are not often given a platform to shine and be celebrated, Amy wants to change the ideas of beauty standards on stage and the screen. She is determined to make a difference in the dance industry, showcasing that tall, dark-skinned Black women with atypical profiles and stories deserve the spotlight as much as everyone. As Lupita Nyong’o beautifully said: “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

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Kayla-Renée Wilson is a dance artist born and raised in Toronto, Canada. At a very young age, she was sought out by Greg and Charlene Anthony-Hines, two original members of Do Dat Entertainment Company and, later on, began training at the, then, all-hip hop dance school, DOAHL Dance Academy. There, she received great mentorship in choreography and freestyling, fuelling her love for hip-hop culture and street dance. It wasn’t until being accepted into the Arts Unionville Program at Unionville High School that she began expanding her dance knowledge in modern jazz. Performing as a dancer in musicals such as Crazy for You and Bells are Ringing. Currently, Kayla-Renée is a member of Footnotes Academy run by Andrew “Pyro” Chung and Mariano “Glizzi” Abarca and Artists in Motion Dance Company run by Shameka Blake. Today, she continues to develop her skillsets as a hip-hop dance artist while also training in contemporary, jazz, popping, locking, breaking and house dance. All of which fuels her love for dance, pushing her to be a better artist.

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Nadjema was born into music and dance. Her father, who was part of the National Ballet of Côté d’Ivoire, introduced her to West African dancing at drumming at the young age of 4 years old. She performed in a professional West African performance group called Miyanda for 12 years, touring both locally and Internationally. She participated in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland, as well as the Cedros International Music Festival in Mexico City (twice). Since then she has continued her dance trainings in the Latin styles of Salsa, Bachata, Reggaeton, however her expertise is in Cuban Salsa and Samba. She now dances with Samba Heat Entertainment and freelances, performing in shows across Toronto and the GTA at venues such as Lula Lounge, Rebel Night Club, Copacabana. She’s used her talents to participate in several music videos, photoshoots and video shoots, her most recent feature being in Juno Award-winning band OKAN’s newest video “Sombras”.

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God is love, dance is my freedom. Janice Ellis was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, growing up, she was a very out spoken, shy and quiet girl. Words were not something she used to express herself. Overtime, not being able to fully express the things she felt did build up. Then finally she discovered how to channel it all into expression, her expression. She has been dancing since a child and over time realized it is what she wanted to do as a profession. Janice first started her dance journey in high school trying out and being a part of dance teams. In high school, she became a part of a dance group called S.T.O.P.P (Student Triumph Over Peer Pressure) that specialized in traditional African dance. Janice went on to graduate and attend York University’s dance program. During her time in university, she started to branch off and touch other styles of dance a bit more seriously, like hip hop, ballet and afro. She then realized where her heart and love for dance was. It was afro. Fast forward to now, she has had the blessing of working with many artists including Yemi Alade, Mr. Eazi and many more. She has also opened for Burna Boy, Davido and Kizz Daniel. These opportunities obviously did not arise without the dance crews that she is currently/previously been a part of which are Real 3D, Black Stars & theTEAM. As well, she has been trained over the years by Martin (Prempz) Prempeh and Bizzy Boom. Currently she teaches Afrofusion classes at Studio North on Fridays at 8PM.

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Rose-Mary “Rosie” Harbans (she/her) is a multifaceted performer, choreographer, and dance educator from Toronto, Ontario. She is a Dora nominated artist whose artistic practice centres art as a vessel for inner transformation and movement as a powerful form of medicine and healing. Rosie is of Caribbean ancestry, and this greatly informs her passion for rhythm and storytelling. She is a graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University (BFA). Some of her credits include, Dixon Road (Musical Stage Co./ Ray Hogg), A Revolution for Love (Esie Mensah), Kira, The Path | La Voie (Lua Shayenne Dance Company), After Midnight (Norwegian Cruise Lines/ Warren Carlyle), and Trinity: Music, Dance & You (Vicki St. Denys). She is currently a teacher at Etobicoke School of the Arts and Canada’s National Ballet School. She is excited to continue expanding and growing within her artistic practice and beyond.

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Kayanna Aldred is a fierce versatile dancer offering 10+ years of dance experience in the GTA. With a multi-diverse artistic background, she has trained in ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip hop ETC. But her true love and passion is Dancehall. Her roots. Kayanna has performed & choreographed for a numerous amount of artists, shows and music videos such as the Junos Awards, Rolling Loud TO, Charley Black, Haviah Mighty, Omega Mighty, Kae Music to name a few. Dedicated to expanding her skills in choreography & performance, Kayanna has taken her training overseas to the heart of the culture, Jamaica, where she learns from the creators and legends of dancehall. Being of Caribbean descent, she continues to bring the authenticity of dancehall to the GTA, where she’ll start her journey of being a dancehall teacher and curating her dance brand in the near future of 2023. Enthusiastic and professional, she will continue to share her love and passion in the industry while growing her network.

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Kwasi Obeng-Adjei is a Canadian multidisciplinary artist, emerging choreographer and dance educator based in Brampton Ontario. Acceptance into the regional arts program at St Roch Catholic Secondary School is where he began his journey and developed his foundation. Training with Leading Artistic directors and choreographers  that include the likes of Esie Mensah, and Lua Shayenne to name a few, have led to  opportunity that include Pan-American Games, Kira, The Path | La Voie, The Raptors half-time show, Zayo and more. Kwasi believes dance is a spiritual experience that involves connection all that are amoung us. 

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Lua Shayenne weaves contemporary narratives through dance, song and storytelling. Her artistic practice draws from her African roots and her faith – the Baha’i Faith. Her art seeks to activate hearts and consciences. She actively engages with her audience and communities with a concern for ecological justice, social justice and spiritual quest. A 2016/17/18 K.M. Hunter Dance award nominee and a recipient of the 2013 BMO seeds Fund Award for Artists working in community, Lua is the creator and interpreter of Yassama and The Beaded Calabash, which will be touring this May & June 2023! Lua is the artistic director of Dora nominated (2019) Lua Shayenne Dance Company (LSDC), through which she boldly envisioned and launched YENSA Festival. Her performing highlights include Holoscenes (US, UK, Abu Dhabi, Australia), Été au Théâtre in Italy, Fall for Dance North, Luminato Festival, Dusk Dances, d:mic and more. Lua teaches at Toronto Metropolitan University’s dance program and brings African dance, music, storytelling and culture to grassroots organizations and schools all over Canada and Europe.

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A classically trained graduate of the Ryerson University Dance Program (now TMU), Miranda is a 15-year professional, predominantly performing styles of dance such as Samba, Afro-Brazilian, West African, Cuban Cabaret, Afro-Cuban, and Contemporary. Her career has spanned TV shows and commercials, cruise ship liners, and numerous local, national and international stage shows including The World Expo in Shanghai, China, Pies por Sudamerica Festival in Tulcan, Ecuador, and the Dance Migration Terra Brazil Tour in The Netherlands. She was part of the Dora Award nominated cast of Shades, choreographed by Esie Mensah, and performed Emmy-nominated choreography in the CBC’s television series The Porter, choreographed by Christian Vincent. Miranda’s dance and theatre choreography credits include The Bublé To Bocelli Review with Mitch Seekins, Once; Africville Stories with Voices Black Theatre Ensemble, In The Continuum with Black Ink Collective, and Sweeter written by Alicia Richardson. Miranda currently dances with Lua Shayenne Dance Company and The Dance Migration, and is enjoying her second semester teaching Jazz at Sheridan College in the Musical Theatre Department.