Our Purpose

Black Arts Development Program

The Black Arts Development (BAD) Program consists of six sections that focus on Theatre and Film for Script Writers and Actors, Dance, Visual Arts, Media and Music. The two primary aspects of the BAD Program are training and mentorship. The Program was designed with the intent of providing emerging and pre-professional Black artists the tools and practical knowledge to take the next step in their artistic journey and generate an environment where African, Caribbean and Black Diaspora culture can flourish in Calgary. Woezo Africa has partnered with arts organizations, institutions, universities and businesses in Calgary to reform old systems and move into a place of renewed support that will help contribute to a thriving presence of Black Theatre, Film, Dance, Media, Music and Visual arts in Calgary. Our ultimate goal is to acclimate and nurture the African Diaspora cache of creative artists to the performing and visual arts sector.

Bringing Power To Truth
Bringing Power to Truth is an artist-led initiative that supports artists as citizens to engage their communities to examine and confront racism through their art. Working with artists from Indigenous, Black and People of Colour communities, the initiative facilitates the coming together of artists and community elders/leaders to reflect on their experiences and from these, create artistic works that can engage public systems and the broader communities. Fundamentally emergent in process, this initiative has four components: three affinity spirals: Indigenous-led, Black-led, and racialized-led spirals and Grappling-Gathering event that brings together the spirals and invites the broader community to participate. Artists and community partners will first work within their own affinity groups. They will then come together to grapple with what they have learned and to instigate support for artistic projects, community advocacies and actions that may emerge from the initiatives. Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc. counts itself as part of a larger collective network in Calgary with the intent of freeing African, Caribbean and Black creators from limiting structures, mindsets and opportunities.

Theatre and Film

Recently concluding the Theatre and Film section of the BAD Program, we trained a total 33 African, Caribbean and Black adult artists virtually between two cohorts with a focus on Script Writing and Acting support. The Black Arts Development Program teamed up with award-winning professional instructors Cheryl Foggo, Omatta Udalor from Calgary, in addition to Janelle Cooper and Fiona Clark from Toronto and Jesse Lipscombe from Edmonton to offer 6 weeks (18 hours) of workshops. Successful applicants were granted a $500 honorarium upon completion of the workshops

Beginning in June and ending in September 2021, the Script Writing and Acting workshops served as an introductory course for up-and-coming playwrights and actors with ample collaborative opportunities between the virtual cohorts. The two script writing cohorts produced 10-min plays based on “the Black experience” with the aim of pitching and producing such scripts in collaboration with local theatre organizations in Calgary, using actors predominately sourced from the Program’s Acting workshop. We were able to foster connections with theatre organizations in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge who had publicly committed to the 35//50 Initiative and the pledge to supporting actions that resulted in a minimum of 35% BIPOC and 50% women and gender variant folx in equitably paid, professional theatre industry positions by the conclusion of the 2024/2025 theatre season. 

Why Apply For This

Free Program?

The Black Arts Development (BAD) Program was created and designed with Black artists in mind by providing emerging artists the tools and practical knowledge to take the next step in their artistic journey. This free dance component of the BAD Program will be held in Calgary and invite five local and international guest dance artists to lead workshops and intensives for 40 African, Caribbean and Black participants ranging from five years of age to adults over three weeks from July 11 – 30, 2022. The instructors will be traveling from Africa (South Africa), USA (Denver, Chicago and Washington), and Vancouver bringing over their 20+ years of experience in African diasporic dance forms..

Guest Instructors:

Tap – Star Dixon (Chicago, Illinois)
Ndombolo & Hip hop –  Enock “Brotha E” Kadima (Denver, Colorado)
Gbegbe (Ivory Coast) – Akosua Akoto (Washington, D.C)
Pantsula (South Africa) – Teboho “Tebza” Diphehlo (Soweto, South Africa)
Dancehall (Jamaica) – Mikhail “Venom” Morris (Vancouver, B.C)

UNGANISHA 2022 - Hip Hop

Meet Our Instructors

Akosua Akoto

For Akosua, traditional West African dance was ritual before it was performance and urban African dance styles were part of social gathering before they were an Instagram video. While the majority of movers are catching onto the trend of African dance styles one popular dance move at a time, Akosua uses dance language to shine a wider spotlight on African culture as a whole. A dance scholar, performer, choreographer, movement coach, and artistic director; Akosua is working to strike a balance between the commercial industry and the underground universe that is traditional African dance. 

Born and raised in Washington DC, Akosua is a product of Ghanaian culture, a traditional Senegalese ballet, and a hint of life in the Caribbean. She made her first appearance on stage at age 3. Her early work in choreography and dance instruction began at age 13 for a collection of after school programs in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. She taught her first adult West African dance class at age 15, an achievement that would jump start her career in choreography. Akosua’s undergraduate career at Howard University is a melting pot of both exercise science and an introduction to the world of modern and contemporary dance. An experience on which she bases unique strategies as a movement coach. 

She founded ASA! Enterprises in 2011 – an umbrella company covering ASA!, one of the first international African dance fitness programs,  a line of sport and dance apparel, a group fitness certification, the SBJ Dance and Mentorship program and the ASA! Body Personal Training Studio. She is also the co-founder of the Antigua-based carnival company, FUZE. She is an injury rehabilitation specialist and personal trainer with 4 national certifications, 2 degrees, and 10 years experience in the physical therapy and fitness industries. She has traveled the world as a performer and dance instructor gracing stages, TV screens, and studios across the United States, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and West Africa. She has worked with celebrities across cultures including Jidenna, Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, Machel Montano, Fally Ipupa and more. With every opportunity, Akosua moves from and through culture.

Enock Kalubi Kadima is a 25 years old dance artist. Born and raised in the Congo, he moved to the U.S in 2009. He was then introduced to hip hop in 2010, that’s when his dance journey really began. While being well versed in Hip Hop, House, and African techniques, Enock started sharing his knowledge throughout the U.S & outside the country In 2014. This is when he started competing as a soloist. While competing, he won many battles all over The U.S & outside of the country as well.

In 2016, he started his journey as a teacher & Choreographer. Focused primarily on African dance forms, He aims to push & share his knowledge on Congolese dance styles & music.

Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Venom is an International Jamaican Cultural Ambassador, Cultural Business Consultant, Lecturer on the History and Culture of Jamaican Dancehall at Simon Fraser University, Educator and an International Dancer/Choreographer. Currently based in Vancouver BC, Venom Co-Owns/Directs his company “Ketch Di Vybz Production Company” (KDV; Est. 2015) as the Artistic Director to connect and educate individuals and communities on the cultures of Jamaica and the African Diaspora through education, history, and dance. Since KDV started in 2015, Venom has been consistently educating and creating safe space for other Artists of African Descent to educate on their cultures and history in Vancouver.

Teboho “Tebza” Diphehlo is an international teacher, choreographer and dancer from Soweto, South Africa. Some of his credits are Red Bull 2018 Dance champion and certified Red Bull SA dance athlete, choreographer with Juste Debout Dance School in Paris and assistant choreographer with So You Think You Can Dance Season #3. Tebza specializes in the Pantsula South African dance style.  Tebza has also been mentored by Itumeleng Hlapane; Business, Education, Arts and Mentorship. Business and Arts South Africa;  fundamental training of business and arts.

Through his Pantsula choreographic approach, Tebza invites different elements from all  the dance genres. He incorporates them in his productions. He makes many people that are not  dancing Pantsula relate to the dance style.Teaching has always been his priority due to everlasting creativity he wants to instill in many minds. Tebza teaches on a daily basis with his company Diphehlo Arts Intelligence situated in Soweto, South Africa. His aim is to plant the seeds of inspiration in all corners of the world. With over 20 Years of Pantsula Dance Experience, Tebza has a mission striving to bring different concepts of Pantsula to the masses.

Star Dixon is an assistant director, choreographer, and original principal dancer of world renowned tap company, MADD Rhythms. She has taught and performed at the most distinguished tap festivals in the country including The L.A. Tap Fest, DC Tap Fest, RIFF Dallas, Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World, and MADD Rhythms own Chicago Tap Summit. She’s performed internationally in Poland, Japan, and Brazil. Performance venues include Jacob’s Pillow, Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln Center. Outside of MADD Rhythms, she’s performed as a guest with such companies as Michelle Dorrance’s Dorrance Dance and Savion Glover’s All Funk’d Up. Most recently named 2021 Chicago Dance Makers Forum lab artist awardee and Chicago Reader’s Best Choreographer 2022.

The benefits for this FREE program includes:

  • Imparting the value and traditions of African dance forms to students through classes and workshops.
  • Build physical and mental wellbeing from exposure to dance.
  • Learn about the relationship of dancer and musician in a cultural context.
  • Deepen their understanding of the art form’s movement and music.
  • Successful applicants will be paid for the 3 Week Dance Intensive.
  • Empowered to share experiences with others and build personal networks.
  • Small class learning. 
  • Practical and applied skills.
  • Provide exposure to dance forms that parents or grandparents were raised with, but have since ceased to find a place in the Calgary landscape.
  • Enhance your professional dance career. 

Who Can Apply?

Application Requirements & Eligibility

The BAD Program will focus on creating spaces for African, Caribbean, and Black community members by supporting 40 emerging artists to learn and grow. No prior dance experience is required; however we are only accepting serious participants who are passionate about learning and growing as a professional artist. 

  • The BAD Program 3 Week Dance Intensive is for the African, Caribbean, and Black community members.
  • No prior dance experience required.
  • A $100.00 commitment fee will be required from successful candidates at the beginning of the workshop. This will be refunded upon successful completion of the workshop.
  • An additional $50 (Youth) and $200 (Adults) will be awarded to all candidates upon successful completion of the program.

Important

Dates

Program ScheduleDates
Application opensApril 11, 2021
Application closed May 19, 2022
Letter of admission for successful applicants June 6, 2022
3 Week Dance Intensive beginsJuly 11, 2022
3 Week Dance Intensive endsJuly 30, 2022