BIOS

Nkeiruka Oruche, Director & Producer

An Igbo-Nigerian cultural producer and multidisciplinary performer, Nkeiruka 'Nkei' Oruche specializes in the expressions of urban culture of the African Diaspora and its intersections with personal identity, public health and sociopolitical action.

Since 2002, Nkeiruka has played a crucial role in ushering African culture unto the global stage from working as Editor-in-Chief of Nigerianentertainment.com, a digital magazine, and as co-founder of One3snapshot, an urban African art collective. In 2016, she directed “Til’ Dance Do Us Part,” a tongue-in-cheek dance-theater piece narrating urban African life stages, love and coming of age, and incorporating a soundtrack of Afrobeats, Azonto, Turf, Second-Line, and Dancehall, delivered against a sociohistorical narrative of colonialism, racism and Black empowerment.

As a choreographer, dancer and performer she has enthralled audiences from street corners, to house parties to the stages of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Oakland Museum of California, Yoshi’s SF, Dance Mission Theater, the Independent, the Mezzanine and the California Academy of Sciences. Nkeiruka has performed with Magic System, Les Twins, Elephant Man, Onyeka Owenu, and is currently a front-person for Gbedu Town Radio, an Afro dance band covering Afro-diasporic street and club music from the 1960s until today.

Oruche’s performing arts and community-building background is reinforced by a bachelor's degree in Health Education from San Francisco State University and substantial experience in performing arts production and education, cultural empowerment and social justice obtained from working with Amara Tabor-Smith, Ellen Sebastian-Chang, UC Berkeley, Our Family Coalition, Stern Grove Festival, Mario Pam (of Ilê Aiyê), John Santos, Youth Speaks, Dance Mission, Boys & Girls Clubs, and the Oakland Museum of California

Currently, Nkeiruka is focused on expanding and sustaining grassroots change-making and community health through the production, performance and embodiment of art and culture. She is a co-founder of BoomShake, a social justice and music education organization, artistic director of Afro Urban Society, a meeting place for urban African art, culture and people, and director of Studio Grand a multidisciplinary space dedicated to artists.

Tossie Long, Co-Director

San Francisco native with the incarnations of Mississippi, Tossie Long is a multifaceted 2018 GRAMMY-nominated vocalist, actor, performer, and visual manipulator who uses art, culture, and explorations in intimacy as her tools of magic to shift the world. Tossie’s voice and presence has graced the albums and stages of TuNeYaRdS, The Sh8peShifter, Pancho Morris, Alphabet Rockers!, Oakland Symphony, San Francisco Jazz Festival, Stern Grove Festival, Harlem Museum, The Stone NYC, Fox Theater, and YBCA to name a few. She is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Afro Urban Society’s Bakanal de Afrique, an Afro Urban festival that celebrates the unique expressions of urban Africans through performance and community activism.

Long is currently excavating the inner workings of her mind via her ongoing digital visual & literary project ‘Dear Tossie’, and master crafting her new multimedia work, ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’, a visual soundscape installation accompanied by the heartbreak of nostalgia, loneliness and a search for sanity.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo | Writer

Ijeoma Umebinyuo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her ancestral home sits between two states, a border town somewhere in Southeastern Nigeria. In 2016, Ijeoma was named one of the top contemporary poets emerging from Africa by Writivism. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Wildness, The Rising Phoenix Review, Doll Hospital Journal, The Renaissance Noire, The Gordon Square Review and The MacGuffin. Her poem “Diaspora Blues” is a part of Dr. Rosalba Icaza’s contribution to Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics.

In 2017, Ijeoma was invited to speak at The Cooper Union, her talk Dismantling the Culture of Silence seeks to challenge the culture where silence is seen as a virtue in marginalized communities and how such affect women. Dismantling the Culture of Silence has been used by some teachers to teach students in high school the importance of using their voices.  Her poem The Delicate Acts of Survival from her poetry collection Questions for Ada has been selected to be translated into Spanish; it will be published by Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencas Sociales (Latin American Council of Social Sciences) as part of an ebook.

Yaps Jolito

Yap's Jolito 32 ans Ivoirien né à Paris. Danseur professionel et chorégraphe à Paris je suis aussi sollicité à l'étranger : - Russie - Australie - Etats-Unis etc... j'ai commencé la danse avec le hip-hop à l'âge de 8 ans, en 1997-1999 je fais mes 1ere grosses scènes avec mon groupe ABS (Atomic Black Style) créé par mon grand frère (Tino) au "Rencontre de la Villette" ou j'ai rencontré plein d'autre groupe et danseur reconnu comme Storm, Bruce Ykanji , Thony Maskot, Junior et Sydney etc.... En suite, je me met à faire des battle "juste debout,Lille" battle " Trace Tv" etc.... et quelques clips puis les chose deviennent plus sérieux en 2009, je preste au côté de Omar Edward (artiste afro américain) - Concert avec Aimelia lias ancien de l'orchestre Wenge (Ndombolo, Congo) 2010 : Première partie avec Reine Denise (ma cousine) au concert du grand Meiwey (artiste ivoirien) 2015 : J'apparais dans le clip "Freedom" extrai du spectacle musical Madiba, dans d'autres clips d'artistes du moment où je figure et en chorégraphie certains tel que : Abou Debeing, Lefa (Sexion d'assaut), Axel Tony, bebi philipe (artiste ivoirien), Toofan, MHD etc.... En Mars 2015 : je commence les cours au Studio MRG (école de danse formation) à Paris, je décide de filmé mes cours et de les posté sur les réseaux sociaux dont une vidéo qui a fait des millions de vue sur tous les réseaux "Sapé comme jamais" musique chanté par l'artiste Maître Gims qui a été partagé par plusieurs sites, Dj et radio tel que "Trace Africa, Dj Mike One etc..." ou ma visibilité en prend un coup et augmente à vitesse grand V, c'est en partie grâce à cette vidéo et mon travail au studio mrg que j'ai été contacté et sollicité partout en Europe et à l'étranger (Italie, Espagne, côte d'Ivoire, île de la réunion, Russie, Australie, États-Unis etc..) comme je le cite au début. Après les Clip place au cinéma ou je fais une petite apparition dans une scène du film "Lolo" sorti au cinéma en 2015 , film de Julie Delpy avec Julie Delpy, Dany Boon et Laurent Lacoste. 2017 : Première partie avec Abou Debeing du concert de Black M à AccorHotels Arena (Bercy) 2018 : Première partie avec Josiane (artiste sénégalaise) du concert de Pape Diouf à AccorHotels Arena (Bercy). Aujourd'hui je continue de donner des cours au Studio MRG et de partager mon savoir et mon amour pour la danse partout dans le monde entier.


Regina “Califa” Calloway | Guest Choreographer, Musical Cast, Production Collaborator & Consultant

A Founding Member / Director in service for Kongo SQ West Kinship Society living in Oakland, California, USA, since 2005. A devout steward of African Spiritual Traditions, conducting ongoing field research on African Cultural retention of the American South; Advancing the work ethic of her Ancestors inspired the cultivation of philanthropreneurship initiatives, investing in her Family and Community kinship. As a Dance Diaspora specialist she founded #nzoCALIFAncestry, a #Dance influenced trek, guided upon an Ancestral Sojourn, utilizing Genealogy as her tool to invoke Ancestral healing, restore Family Charters, and strengthen Communal kinship -- and taking names!

Regina Califa Calloway offers services as Co-facilitator/ Workshop leader / Professional Teaching Artist for Conferences, Retreats, and Communal rites. She shares tools and wisdom that invokes an Ancestral Healing component drawing upon its vital role of personal identity and spiritual empowerment, with a guiding force to rebuild Family. Ms Calloway was the KOFY TV 20 Co-host with legendary Radio Personality, Marcos Gutierrez for Carnaval San Francisco 2016.


Thamsanqa Hlatywayo  |Choreographer 

Thamsanqa is a South African who teaches Traditional, urban dance and township theater that he studied under Gibos Kente.

Michelle N. Gibson MFA | The Artist

Choreographer, Cultural Ambassador, Educator, and Performing Artist Michelle N. Gibson received  her BFA in Dance from Tulane University and her MFA in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival at Duke University.

Michelle’s choreographic works range from genres of the African Diaspora, Afro and Contemporary Modern, Afro Funk, Jazz, and her own New Orleans Second Line Aesthetic. One of her latest choreographic works, Voices of Congo Square, uses the rich culture and history of the Black Mardi Gras Indians that  premiered  in 2018 during the 300th  Tri-Cenntinal Celebration of New Orleans at the Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans LA.

Most recently, Michelle has been appointed as the new Interim Artistic Director of the African American Dance Ensemble founded by the legendary choreographer, scholar, historian, educator, humanitarian, and her mentor Baba Chuck Davis.

Lydia 'LydRock' Rockson | Collaborator/Performer

Lydia 'LydRock' Rockson is a dancer and choreographer with a passion for contemporary and cultural African dance. Born in Tema, Ghana, raised in New York and Fort Worth, Texas and currently living in Houston, Texas, Lydia has been dancing all her life. A psychology graduate of University of Houston, Lyd started professionally dancing in her freshman year and since then has developed her signature 'AfriRock' style, a mix of hip hop and new African dance. She currently teaches classes, and performs with top names in the industry including Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Dbanj, Mr. Eazi and Tekno to name a few. LydRock's creative prowess surpasses the dance floor, she also has an eye for fashion and styling. Guided by the quote "I'll rather try and fail than to not try at all", her goal is to tour the world teaching and empowering dancers and non dancers alike to aspire to be more than their current situation while cultivating and spreading the culture!

The Wowoboyz | Collaborator/Performer

The Wowoboyz are exceptional performers who have made their mark in the comedian world very swiftly! Made up of young talented men: Andrew Ogale, Chukwunonso Ofili, their manager David Awobayiku, and up and coming standup comedian James Otiocha, they have definitely combined their unique talents, experiences in life and current affairs to cook up exciting comedy skits and stage performances.

One Half of the WowoBoyz, Chukwunonso Ofili is a ridiculously funny comedian who has made his mark in the city of Houston. He started by performing at college shows and honed his skills performing in Maryland, West Virginia and Indiana. A skilled graphic designer, cartoonist and visual artist, Ofili is also the lead artist behind @OfiliDesigns a full service art company specializing in portraits of popular African artists and custom orders.

Andrew Ogale | King Drew also known as King Drewwskyy is a Comedian, Actor, Director, Videographer and overall creative; he is part CEO of the entertainment company called Wowo Boyz founded in 2013. Born and raised in Nigeria King Drew moved to the USA in 2008 to pursue his bachelor's degree which he completed in 2013 with a Bachelors in Environmental Health. King Drew is "an inspiring super model" and believes he can make it big in the fashion industry with his popular slogan "I can make anything look good". King Drew is one of the pioneers of African comedy in the diaspora and has over 1000 comedy skits online. He is an all round entertainer and is ready to take over the world but first welcome to his world.

Kanukai Chigamba | Collaborator/Performer

Kanukai Chigamba started dancing at a young age in Harare, Zimbabwe, at Biras, all night ceremonies. She later joined the Mhembero Dance Troupe, performing traditional Zimbabwean dance locally. In 2010 she moved to Oakland and is now part of the traditional Zimbabwean dance group, Chinyakare Ensemble. Chigamba has performed all over the United States including at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Zimfest in Oregon, Monterey Bay Reggaefest and the Africa Day Celebration in Washington, D.C.. Kanukai is also proficient in various dance styles in the Congolese, West African, Ndombolo, Afrobeats, Pantsula and Kwaito cultures. Chigamba believes dance is a wonderful way to communicate, share cultures and make new friends.

Founded by native New Orleanian Nate Cameron and Bay Area brass band MJ’s Brass Boppers, The Oakland Second Line Project is a cultural community experience bringing the authentic African roots of Second Line History and spirit of community building from New Orleans to POC communities of Oakland, Ca. The Oakland Second Line Project aims to bring free quality black cultural arts community experiences to black neighborhoods of Oakland, Ca that otherwise would not traditionally have access to them. Our brand hopes to achieve leaving the black communities we work in inspired with sustainable ideas, skills, community resources, and networking system all while appreciating and supporting local black arts and artists.

Amarachi Ejiawoko, a rising creative, recently graduated from the Masters of Public Health program at the University of California, Berkeley. Outside of her academic interests, she has always expressed her passion for dance and performance. Amarachi started dancing at a young age, while traveling with her sisters around Washington state performing traditional Nigerian dances. This fostered her desire to expose different groups of people to West African culture. Her dream is to own a chain of cultural plazas that will serve minority populations, notably West African communities.

Mallam Sawyerr is a dancer who moonlights as an energy consultant. He describes himself as a slave to rhythm, and is most likely to be the person you see dancing whenever and wherever rhythmic music is playing. He grew up in Nigeria dancing to Afro urban music, and most recently has become passionate about Latin dance, especially Salsa and Bachata.

Keisha Turner wields earth, celestial, and ancestral energy in her work as a performer, choreographer, yoga instructor, healer, and organizer. www.iamearthchild.com

Emerald Mitchell is a performing artist, writer, and public speaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work focuses on dances, rhythms, and words of the African diaspora. Emerald holds a degree in Liberal Arts from The New School in New York City. She also formerly worked in entertainment at Walt Disney World, studied at Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre and Columbia University and traveled the world as a flight attendant.

Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jamie discovered her gifts of song and dance in church. Also influenced by TLC, Janet Jackson, and Missy Elliot, Jamie began her career as a hip hop dancer-- one of the last members of 2Deep Dance crew in Warren, Ohio. She went on to study Modern, and Ballet at Allen Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA, and has since worked with the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and Lindsay Renea Dance Theater.

Shemica Johnson is the originator of Caliwynd, a dance style with influences in Afro-Haitan, Reggae Vybz and Hip Hop. Her dance and teaching practice is rooted in the understanding that dance builds community by uniting people and unlocking their ability for uninhibited creative expression for healing and empowerment. She currently works as an artist collaborator.

LaKiesha Golden is a Performing Artist with a specialization in Congolese (Central African) Dance and Urban Ballroom among experience in other dance genres. She's an Educator, Dance Instructor, Community Arts Organizer and Arts Advocate. She currently teaches workshops and performs for various events throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

DJ, dancing queen, music enthusiast, DJ K-la-V, from the San Francisco Bay Area, has always been inspired by unique rhythms and sounds of many genres from the time she was young. K-la-V spins corporate tech events, fashion shows, grand affair weddings, festivals, clubs and lounges; and often DJ's for brands like Neiman Marcus, Gentry Magazine, Salesforce, Amazon, and Google to name a few. K-la-V's style has an international flare with House music and Afro Beats being among her favorite genres to DJ and dance to. However, don't be surprised when she plays you a good Hip Hop, Pop, and Dancehall set with some funky soul beats and Jazz tunes on the side.

DJ Leydis is a DJ, mother and activist born and raised in Cuba. Involved in the Cuban HIP HOP movement since its inception, DJ Leydis helped organized some of the countries most respected and attended events and community programs. In 2005, she co-founded Omegas Kilay. A Hip-Hop Theater Collective in Havana Cuba, Omegas Kilay focused on presenting the poetry, music, experiences and perspectives of artists such as DJ Yari, Danay Suarez, Nono, La LLave De IPG, La Negra, and Las Krudas. Along with her partner DJ Yari, DJ Leydis created the first all female DJ Mixtape in Cuba, contributing a special blend of new flavor and spirit to the international community.

In addition, she performed across Cuba as the official Spoken Word Artist of Rande Acosta’s Platos Rosa. DJ Leydis has also been a featured subject of critically acclaimed and groundbreaking documentaries such as Inventos: Hip Hop Cubano, Jovenes Rebeldes y Mi Revolution, and continues to be an keynote speaker on the subject of Cuban Hip-Hop Culture. In 2006, DJ Leydis migrated to United States to expand upon her work as a DJ. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has worked with Erykah Badu, ?uest Love of the Roots, and other iconic American artists. Presently working on tour with Los Rakas & Las Krudas, DJ Leydis combines contemporary hits with an distinct fusion of Latin flavors, R&B classics and Roots Reggae blends.

Babá Ken and West African Highlife Band

Babá Ken is a beloved SF Bay Area-based Nigerian bandleader, vocalist, bassist, teacher and multi-instrumentalist, one of the few popular African musicians of today whose roots extend deep into his country’s musical history. He now leads several distinct African bands, including West African Highlife Band, an all-star group of West African master musicians offering a unique and delightful celebration of intoxicating dance hits from the highlife era of the 50s-70s. With master musicians from several West African countries and the United States, the band draws on folk traditions combined with modern stylistic elements, played with acoustic and electric instruments, and revives classic highlife dance hits of Ghana and Nigeria. Babá Ken was first seen in the U.S. as bassist on King Sunny Ade’s world tours. He is known for his work with Nigeria’s legendary Afrobeat creator Fela Anikulapo Kuti, highlife master Dr. Victor Olaiya, and the seminal Afro-rock group Monomono. Babá Ken has countless Nigerian and American recording dates to his credit, and the Nigerian Journalists' Association five times voted him the country's top bassist. He founded the international super-group Babá Ken & KOTOJA, famed for its bubbling brew of Afrobeat, highlife, juju, and jazz, and which inspired the start-up of Putumayo World Music.

The Oakland Secondline Project

Founded by native New Orleanian Nate Cameron and Bay Area brass band MJ’s Brass Boppers, The Oakland Second Line Project is a cultural community experience bringing the authentic African roots of Second Line History and spirit of community building from New Orleans to POC communities of Oakland, Ca.

The Oakland Second Line Project aims to bring free quality black cultural arts community experiences to black neighborhoods of Oakland, Ca that otherwise would not traditionally have access to them. Our brand hopes to achieve leaving the black communities we work in inspired with sustainable ideas, skills, community resources, and networking system all while appreciating and supporting local black arts and artists.

Oluwafemi Sawyerr

Mallam Sawyerr is a dancer who moonlights as an energy consultant. He describes himself as a slave to rhythm, and is most likely to be the person you see dancing whenever and wherever rhythmic music is playing. He grew up in Nigeria dancing to Afro urban music, and most recently has become passionate about Latin dance, especially Salsa and Bachata.

Amarachi Ejiawoko

Amarachi Ejiawoko, a rising creative, recently graduated from the Masters of Public Health program at the University of California, Berkeley. Outside of her academic interests, she has always expressed her passion for dance and performance. Amarachi started dancing at a young age, while traveling with her sisters around Washington state performing traditional Nigerian dances. This fostered her desire to expose different groups of people to West African culture. Her dream is to own a chain of cultural plazas that will serve minority populations, notably West African communities.

Jamie Carter | Dancer/Singer/Actress

Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jamie discovered her gifts of song and dance in church. Also influenced by TLC, Janet Jackson, and Missy Elliot, Jamie began her career as a hip hop dancer-- one of the last members of 2Deep Dance crew in Warren, Ohio. She went on to study Modern, and Ballet at Allen Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA, and has since worked with the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and Lindsay Renea Dance Theater.

Emerald Mitchell

Emerald Mitchell is a performing artist, writer, and public speaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work focuses on dances, rhythms, and words of the African diaspora. Emerald holds a degree in Liberal Arts from The New School in New York City. She also formerly worked in entertainment at Walt Disney World, studied at Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre and Columbia University and traveled the world as an Emirates flight attendant.

Eko Kitchen SF | Simi Adebajo

Born from Head Chef and CEO, Simileoluwa Adebajo’s love of food from her home country of Nigeria, Eko Kitchen is a bi-weekly Nigerian weekend pop up kitchen (Saturday & Sunday) in the city of San Francisco, delivering homemade Lagos inspired food. By partnering with local vendors and using recipes from her mother and two grandmother's repertoires, Simi brought a taste of Lagos to the foggy city, and simultaneously managed to stay as close to home as possible.

Anthonia Nneamaka Onyejekwe is a Nigerian-American filmmaker, content creator, and blogger from Oakland, CA. She has passion for telling stories through visual media and believes that representation matters in front and behind the camera. Anthonia has produced and directed content for ABC-7 Bay Area, independent projects, multiple production companies, and created a non-profit film program called REEL Oakland for Bay Area youth. She is open to new projects and collaborating with great minds!

Philip Amo Agyapong is a Dance teacher and researcher from Ghana and currently living in California – USA. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Theatre Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of Ghana. After his graduate studies, Philip served as an Assistant Lecturer in the same University for two (2) years. During his position as faculty in the University of Ghana, he produced dance works such as “Su-Ban”, “Akogo”, and “Ritual” from his research scope “Dance and Ethics in Ghanaian Festivals”. Currently, Philip teaches African Traditional dance forms (both theory and practical), African Popular dance and Contemporary African dance in Schools across the Bay Area and beyond. He further practices and performs with dance companies such as Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, African Music and Dance Ensemble and Afro-Urban Society all in the Bay Area – CA.