photography by Anna Conn

FALL 2019

Instructor: Souleymane “Solo” Sana. Mali, Africa

  • Malian dance (for youth and beginners). FREE/Donation-based West African dance classes for youth, beginners and the community.

  • Malian dance (for intermediate to advanced dancers). West African dance.

  • With live drumming for all classes by percussionist Di Andree Dukes.

  • Levels as indicated.


Souleymane “Solo” Sana is an accomplished traditional dancer from Mali, West Africa. A former principal member for one of the premiere companies of Mali, Ballet Du District de Bamako, he is a leader among artists. Solo’s presence at local ceremonies and festivals in Mali has always been in high demand, performing with renown griots and musicians as well as internationally known artists such as Djeneba Seck and Oumou Sangare. With an extensive knowledge of traditional dances of the Mande culture, he is highly sought after as an instructor for private and group lessons, teaching students from around the world including internationally acclaimed dancers, university instructors, and Broadway performers. Currently Solo splits his time between teaching and performing in the United States and running Kono Gnaga, his NGO in Mali with a mission to preserve traditional dance and music. Solo made his choreographic premiere in New York City in the Spring of 2014 and has most recently embarked on the creation of Sira Koro, a dance and music ensemble in Mali, where he serves as Artistic Director and Choreographer with a mission to bring new perspective to traditions while simultaneously providing opportunities for young artists in Mali




Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

FALL 2019

Instructor: Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire. Abricots, Grand' Anse, Haiti.

  • Dance Culture of Ayiti (Haitian Vodou dance)

  • With live drumming.

  • All levels.

From the artist: "I am a contemporary Haitian artist who works through Vodou culture in Haiti and on the African continent. I will use the space of a dance workshop to invoke the aesthetics of Haitian Vodou as a way to share my perspective and philosophy on Negritude. I integrate Haitian perspectives and multiple African philosophies, cultivating a way to bridge diasporic culture and Africa for our contemporary world. This workshop will engage participants through songs, dance and dialogue, demonstrating the relationship between rhythm, dance, spirit, and philosophy."

Michelle N. Gibson

FALL 2019

Instructor: Michelle N. Gibson, the ArtistNew Orleans, LA, USA.

  • The New Orleans Original BuckShop. Michelle’s signature workshop explores culture and African diasporic traditions of Black, New Orleans. The “New Orleans Original BuckShop” illuminates the rooted and embodied traditions clearly noticeable within Second Line Movement and Brass Band Music; it works to honor the culture as a lived experience by creating a platform of the aesthetic and historical relevance becoming a part of the academic conversation as it relates to the African American vernacular, the culture, and social dance forms. 

  • Afro Modern. With live drumming by percussionist Lázaro Martínez. Class fuses diasporic aesthetics with codified modern dance techniques. Recognizing the contribution that dances of the African diaspora give in support of codified techniques.

  • All levels.

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. As a preacher’s daughter and New Orleanian, Gibson’s upbringing was deeply rooted in the A.M.E church where her father, the late Rev. B.A. Gibson, served and the streets of New Orleans where second line culture boomed. She says, “When I put myself in the street, the church still lives inside of me through the second-line. I feel something deeper — a root that came from the old Black church,”. Michelle N. Gibson’s choreographic works range from genres of the African Diaspora, Contemporary Modern, Afro Funk, Jazz, and her own New Orleans Second Line Aesthetic.

“The rhythms of my drum, they come from Congo Square, from the African Methodist Episcopal church, from my preacher father, and from my mother who imbued my soul with spirituality. The rhythms come from Evelyn Milton Fields and Kai Knight at the Milton School of Dance, Mariama Curry, Ausettua Amoramenkum, and others who taught me dance in New Orleans. That’s my internal drum. Those are my rhythms."
- Michelle N. Gibson

She has shared her dynamic talent around the world through performance, choreography and instruction. From neighborhood community centers to the concert stage, Michelle’s gifts have enriched audiences both young and old. As a contracted artist with the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs CAP Program, Michelle is committed to using her gift of dance to enhance the lives of seniors through movement therapy workshops in facilities throughout the Dallas Metroplex. She originated the  curriculum for these workshops while a resident artist at Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans. Equally committed to training the next generation of dancers, Michelle is a celebrated faculty member of the American Dance Festival, a position she’s held for seven years.

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

FALL 2019

Instructor: Alexis Zanety. Cuba.

Contemporary teacher and choreographer. Former first soloist for Cuba’s national Contemporary Dance Company. Alexis graduated in 1989 from Escuela Profesional de Instructores de Arte in Villa Clara, Cuba and began his artistic career right after. As a First soloist (1995-2002), he worked under the direction of Eduardo Rivero Walker, Narciso Medina, Lídice Nuñez, Jan Linkens amongst other choreographers. He toured extensively around the world visiting Holland, Italy, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Aruba and Martinique. 

Alexis developed his own technique, Dibujo Circular de Movimento (Circular Drawing Movement), which draws from his training in Afro-Cuban, neoclassical, classical ballet, Caribbean rhythms, Son Cubano and Cuban Rumba. He was commissioned by Compañía Nacional de Danza de Cuba to choreograph Retorno (2015) and in 2016 by Centro Morelense de las Artes in Mexico to choreograph Sombras y Destinos en Imágenes en Desequilibrio.


FALL 2019 MUSICIAN: Di Andree Dukes

From the City of Baltimore to the villages of Mali, West Africa, Di Andree mesmerizes audiences with his knowledge of folklore and ability to perform traditional West African percussion. Beginning at a very young age Di Andree discovered his love for World Music under the direction of Salim and Jumoke Ajanku; two of Baltimore’s finest musicians. Fully immersed in the studies of  West Africa, Di Andree dedicates himself to travel to Mali, West Africa once a year to study Music, Chant, Culture and language. His style is unique for it is crossed between two different yet similar worlds. It is a blend between the music from the heart of Africa and the raw style of Baltimore’s Djembe tradition which is rooted in the Black experience. 

Di Andree has studied with a long list of well known artists such as Menes Yahudah, Namory Keita, Ernest Shaw, Mahiri Keita and many others. He has worked with the likes of Weedie Brahima, Amadou Kouyate, Fode Camara  and more. Di Andree Dukes is a practitioner of Djembe, Khassonke Dundun, Bala, Guitar and Doundouns. Since 2010 he has worked Between Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C. teaching African music in various schools. Currently Di Andree works full time at a Charter School teaching both Folklore and Music to the youth of NW Washington D.C.  His mission is to bring his people together, heal them and himself spiritually, and to teach the underprivileged youth of Urban America that without a doubt they are African, they are beautiful and that they are essential.


FALL 2019 WORKSHOP MUSICIAN: Lázaro Martínez; Cuba.

Lázaro is a Cuban percussionist, singer, composer, producer, and teacher. He studied under Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito,” founder of the music group Los Van Van, and Rolando “El Niño Salgado,” lead percussionist with Afro-Cuban Allstars and the internationally known group The Buena Vista Social Club. At 15 years old, Mr. Martinez won one of his first international competitions two years in a row; Havana Drums: Fiesta del Tambor (20005, 2006.) He recorded and produced his first album at 22 years (Ko-Lash) and then became the percussionist and vocalist for Cuban group Los Jovenes Clásicos del Son for three years. He moved to Austin, Texas in 2016, where he became a percussionist and singer with the group Big Band Tejano, under the direction of Grammy Award winning musician Felipe Borrero. Mr. Martinez continued performing as a musician and accompanist for Lannaya Drum and Dance Ensemble, a nonprofit dedicated to educating audiences on the African diaspora.

In 2017, he relocated to Houston, Texas where he currently resides. He’s had the honor to accompany internationally known Cuban choreographer Alexis Zanety in his evolving work Dibujo Circular de Movimiento at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, the Houston Salsa Congress, and in several dance academies in Seattle, Washington. He was recently invited to perform at the Houston Latin Fest as a percussionist and vocalist. Mr. Martinez is currently an accompanist for Houston Ballet’s Education & Community Engagement outreach programs and for the Houston Ballet Academy as well as a performer and touring musician.