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African American Dance Company, African American Arts Institute, African American and African Diospora Studies and Community and School Partnerships
Dr. Sheila A. Ward is presently a tenured Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science at Norfolk State University. She holds a B.S. in Physical Education with an emphasis in Dance from Indiana University and an M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from Temple University. Dr. Ward also earned a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from Eastern Virginia Medical School/Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. Dr. Ward is the Executive Director of and professional dancer with Eleone Dance Theatre, Philadelphia, PA. She is the former Associate Instructor and Acting Director of the Afro-American Dance Company, Indiana University. Eleone Dance Theatre is dedicated to the preservation and creation of historical and contemporary Theatre dance which celebrates intergenerational and uni- and multicultural themes that both educate and entertain; and, to cultivating future audiences and artists among the underserved by providing affordable dance training, performances and experiences to the community. Dr. Ward performed and trained with The Philadelphia Company (Phildanco) and Phildanco II, and she is a Certification Candidate for the Umfundalai African Dance Technique and the Katherine Dunham Technique. Integration of her degrees in exercise physiology, epidemiology/public health, and dance have served as the foundation to promote, ’Health Empowerment through Cultural Awareness.’
Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, "Fred" Baker started dancing at the age of six and embarked on a tour of the West Indies at the age of 10. On returning to Jamaica, Baker received his first professional dance training from Mr. Alan Ivanhoe, who was trained by the National Dance Theatre of Jamaica. He studied under Madam Ashkin, Neville Black, Mr. Boscoe Holder, and immersed himself in Jass, Ballet, Dunham, and Graham technique classes. In his native hometown of Montego Bay, he took the challenge. In 1971, Mr. Baker founded and served as artistic director and choreographer of the Western Jamaica Folk Dance Co. which later evolved into the West Indian Folk Dance Company to be more inclusive of other Caribbean Nationals. Mr. Baker has held a prominent position in Chicago for more than two decades, as a standard-bearer for African diasporic dance and folkloric music, and he remains a vital part of the Chicago cultural arts education community. Mr. Baker, founding director of the WIFDC, has performed and taught Afro-Caribbean dance forms internationally — from the islands, to Europe and the U.S.
Mr. Kindelan Nordet is from Guantanomo, Cuba, and is an accomplished dancer, vocalist, and percussionist in the following styles: Merengue Haitiano, Rumba, Gaga, Palo, Vodu, Tumba Francesca, Tajon and Chancleta. His family of folkloric musicians and dancers of Haitian descent nurtured his talents, encouraging him to pursue his career as a percussionist. He earned his degree (equivalent to an MFA) from the Centro Nacional de Superacion de la Ensenanza Artistica (CNSEA) in Havana (National University for the Performing Arts). He became Director of the Folkloric Studies Department at CNSEA from 1982-1985, and acted as Professor of Folkloric Percussion at CNSEA, Pablo Milanes Foundation and La Escuela Nacional De Artes. He has provided instruction at Caribbean Music and Dance’s Cuban Salsa workshops in San Francisco, the California Academy of Arts and Sciences, Alhambra Academy, Santa Clara University, Sacramento City College, Alice Arts Center in Oakland, Mission Cultural Club and Humboldt State University. His performing career includes lead percussionist for numerous groups including Projecto Folklorico, Banrara, Ballet de Belgium and Conjunto Folklorico Cutumba de Santiago, Cuba.
Ms. Bekyore is an internationally well-known dancer and teacher. She has toured with the Saakumu Dance Troupe for over 10 years as a senior performer and artist. She is a participating member of the three time award winning Saakumu Dance Troupe at many national music and dance festivals in Ghana. Evelyn Yaa has worked with international contemporary dance choreographers, such as Shani Henderson and many others at the Dagara Music Center. She is a graduate under the training of the renowned musician Bernard Woma, a teacher at the Dagara Music Center and has collaborated with many choreographers in Ghana, Burkina Faso and the United States. Her recent choreography Zanu is a contemporary dance work with the Saakumu Dance Troupe. Evelyn Yaa Bekyore frequently tours the United States to perform and teach traditional Dance and Songs of Ghana throughout universities and colleges.