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nice to meet you
Wunmi Idowu is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, instructor, performer, and producer and the Founder and Director of Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre Inc. Since 2006, Woezo Africa has been passionately dedicated to bringing the history of African culture to the masses through traditional and modern modes of performing arts, including dance, music, theatre and storytelling. Her community outreach work with Woezo Africa has granted her numerous milestones, including her involvement in the inauguration of Alberta’s first Black History Month in 2017 and a Certification of recognition from the House of Commons of Canada (House of Parliament) in 2018. Looking to buttress her arts management skills, Wunmi graduated from the Haskayne School of Business’ Rozsa Arts Management Program (RAMP) in 2019 with the Rozsa Foundation.
As a producer, Wunmi has organized both local and international productions, including Africa Jo, UNITY: Dance Across Africa, Woezo Africa’s annual Black History Month event UNGANISHA: Explore. Connect. Dance, two successful runs of the Woezo Africa Festival in collaboration with the Guild of Nigerian Dancers (G.O.N.D) and Ijodee Dance Center in Lagos, Nigeria, as well as the Woezo Africa Cultural festival in Calgary, Alberta.
Wunmi’s accolades in the art industry span winning the 24th Annual Immigrants of Distinction Award and the Canada Vendors Entrepreneur Award in 2020, both of which were for the category of Arts and Culture. She also won an Afro-Canadian (AC) Community Leader of the Year Award in 2020. Her recent achievements include nominations for the 2021 Doug and Lois Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist Award in addition to Avenue Calgary’s 2021 Top 40 Under 40 list. By pushing for increased visibility of ethnically and culturally diverse artists in Alberta, Wunmi hopes that perceptions will shift around who participates in the arts. She is acquiring the skills to support her mission for social justice and equity through her current enrollment in the Rozsa Executive Arts Leadership (REAL) Program with the Rozsa Foundation. Additionally, she has been awarded a mentorship opportunity with Story Money Impact (SMI) to develop a film about racial issues experienced by Black youth, further bringing the voices of racialized people to light. Through dynamic, cutting-edge work that captures the imagination of a range of audiences, her hope is to enhance the creative economy in Calgary, empower communities and perpetuate the movement for instilling social change.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Nyasha Nyamaka discovered her passion for dance while immersing herself in a street dance crew in 2009. Initially focused on hip-hop and funk styles, Nyasha later fell in love with KRUMP upon moving to Calgary in 2012. With Calgary-based KRUMP collective, Empirical Freedom, she performed & trained locally, travelled to Montreal and Germany to expand her training and compete in tournaments and participated in the collective’s local event, FIFTY HYPE. Nyasha began nurturing her love for African dance when she became a company dancer for Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre in 2016. Through her diverse experiences with African vernacular dance and Black originated dance expressions, Nyasha hopes to be a part of the global movement that connects dance movement cultures both on the African continent and in the diaspora.
Mpoe Mogale is Black and Queer; reigning from Lebowakgomo, South Africa. Amongst many other things they do, they are a professionally trained dancer, currently with Decidedly Jazz Dance’s Professional Training Program and Woezo Africa Music and Dance Theatre Inc. As a Choreographer and Dance Artists for Woezo Africa, Mpoe is most excited to be in a space where they can be their authentic self, as well as gain knowledge and skills in a variety of African dance styles through regular training.
Mpoe has curated several shows including an arts-based research project titled “The Representation of Blackness in Edmonton’s Arts.” Utilizing art as a means to not only understand themselves but also the world around them, Mpoe’s creations tend to cast a mirror upon (Canadian) society, allowing for a space wherein we can reconsider the myths we have existed within—particularly as it pertains to race and gender.
Born in Nigeria, Sarah Uwadiae remembers a childhood filled with modern and traditional dance performances in church and school. Her Theatre Arts degree at Redeemer’s University introduced her to different Nigerian cultures and dance styles. The experience allowed her to engage in/launch into culturally rooted dance styles like Bata, Bagadry dance and Atilogu. At the university, she was a member of the Davidic Dance Crew where she performed modern Afrobeat and Hip-hop for 3 years. In Canada, her passion for movement led her to join Woezo Africa, where she quickly resonated with the practice and purpose of learning, embodying and promoting authentic African dance culture in the community. She is proud and grateful to be a part of Woezo Africa’s journey.
Cindy Ansah is a dance artist and emerging choreographer based in Mohkinstsis (colonially known as the City of Calgary). Dance, movement and art has intrigued Cindy since living in her hometown of Toronto, planting the seed for her artistic pursuits. Cindy is currently embarking on her final year of study in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance degree at the University of Calgary where she passionately seeks to expand her creative horizons with multidisciplinary collaboration. In pursuit of shifting the canon and discourse within the arts, Cindy has ventured into writing and dance journalism having her work featured on The Dance Current, Springboard Performance and Alberta Dance Alliance platforms. In her role as Dance Artist for Woezo Africa, Cindy hopes to instill sustained recognition of diverse histories and perspectives, making space for bodies and beings often relegated to the margins. Additionally, by situating herself amongst driven Black artists in the company, she aims to continue committing to a grade of unapologetic Blackness that readily informs, inspires, centers and directs the art she creates.
As an artist, creative and dancer Cindy recognizes that her life is driven by movement; it heals, educates and is the very foundation for catalyzing change. Cindy intends to employ this resource to help her community do the same.
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