2022 Artist bios
Fode Lavia Camara
Artistic & Conference Director
Fodé Moussa Camara, master drummer, percussionist, folklorist, choreographer, exemplifies the new generation in the preservation of West African traditions and the influence of these traditions on the world. Born into an artistic family in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, Camara honors his family and heritage through his expression of Guinea’s musical traditions and culture.
Abou "Todo" Camara currently lives in Gainesville, FL and works at the University of Florida. He has travelled the world playing balafon for Les Ballet Africains, Le Ballet National du Senegal, and also in the Guinean Army band!
Namory Keita was born in 1982 in the village of Sangbarala, Guinea. At age 7 he began drumming, becoming the lead drummer for his village in 2006.
Members of his family are well-known drummers. His brothers, Solo Keita, living in Japan, and Nansady Keita, in England, grew up drumming with Namory under the tutelage of his uncle, Famoudou Konate, one of the most famous West African drummers in the world.
Namory recorded his first CD in 2010 named Kolafolo meaning the ‘Beginning of Everything’. He is a featured artist on recordings by Solo Keita, Billy Konate and Diarra Konate to name a few.
As an international teacher and performing artist, Namory has been invited to many places to share his culture including Germany, Poland, France, Canada, and Portugal. Since coming to America in 2010, he has played with Famoudou Konate, Mamady Keita, Bolokada Conde, Moussa Traore, Mamady Kourouma and the list goes on.
Namory plays for the world renowned West African dance teacher Youssouf Koumbassa, the Kouraba Festival in Canada, Cirque Zuma Zuma, ILAP, and many other noted musicians and venues throughout New England and the US and abroad.
Namory Keita, Master Drummer, is a sought after teacher and performer with a unique style and a wealth of traditional knowledge very rare to find outside the villages of Guinea. His resources include not only his wonderful ability to engage any audience but also his relationships with dancers and drummers locally and around the world.
Mouminatou Camara founded Seewe African Dance Company in September 2005. For a decade, she was the principal dancer for the world-renowned dance company, Les Ballet Africans. She also performed with Les Ballet Djonllba and the Army Ballet. An instructor and performer of West African Dance and Drum, Mouminatou has performed and taught workshops extensively in the USA, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Martinique and the West African countries of Senegal, Mali and the Ivory Coast. Having spent her life in Guinea, Mouminatou has stated that she has been dancing since she was in her mother’s womb. Affectionately called “Moumi”, she brings firsthand knowledge of the history of each dance and imparts that knowledge with great clarity and passion to her students
Seny Daffe was born in Conakry, Guinea. He began studying dance and drum at the age of ten. He is a versatile musician and plays the djembe, krin, bolon, gongoma, sangban, balafon, and doundouns. He is also a very talented singer and comedian, and is widely known and acclaimed to this day in Conakry as a big star!
Daffe has a wealth of performing experience in traditional and Contemporary Dance and Drum. He has been a member, director, and composer for Messages of Boulbint-African Rhythm Tap Company, Ballet Bassikolo, and Seny Daffe Company. He also toured extensively in West Africa, Europe, and the United States and has performed with renowned artists Mamadi Keita, Fatoubou Camera, Abou Sylla, and Bahaly Camera.
Since coming to the United States in 2006, he has traveled the Eastern coast from Florida to Vermont working with several companies and well known artists. He is now a member of Jeh Kulu. Seny plays regularly for Jeh Kulu dance and drum classes, and assists in musical direction and choreography. He is a multi-talented and dynamic performer who is gaining a reputation in the U.S. for his electrifying doundoun playing and rich and powerful voice.
Latisha "Sistah Amahkle" Young -The name Amahkle derives from the origin Zulu meaning the "Beautiful One." She is a keeper of the culture, African dance, music and performing arts and founded LaMoves Afro-Blendz: Dance Fitness, LLC in 2019. LaMoves Afro-Blendz is an organization who strives to promote an active and stress reduced lifestyle along with showing that dance and fitness can be both fun and exciting! This organization will encourage confidence, unity and passion for this creative fusion of many types of African dance. Offering a variety of services such as Healing Retreats For Women & Daughters, Business Expos., Dance Performing Group w / Traveling and Private Dance Sessions.
Atiba Rorie - Djembefola, guitarist and songwriter Atiba Rorie earned his BA in Music from UNC Greensboro in 2007, where he is now a lecturer and dance music coordinator. He is the founder, percussionist, and bandleader for of the acclaimed international multi-genre band, Africa Unplugged.
Christan Carter-Poret, a New Orleans Native, has had the opportunity to learn and instruct students throughout the South and Southeast. Since the tender age of 6, this bubbly lady has used dance to minister, heal, revive, and enlighten all those who encounter her spirit. Under the leadership of her mentors Abdoylaye "Papa" Camara and Ms. Judy Legier, and through instruction, performances, documentation, preservation, and exposure, Christan continues to study and keep the traditions and dreams of her predecessors alive. Christan is a founding member Djoli Kelen, Inc. and has served the Atlanta African Dance and Drum Community in various fashions including but not limited to Assistant Artistic Director of Manga African Dance, Interim Artistic Director of Uhuru Dancers, Afrikan Djeli Cultural Institutes Board CFO, AADDF Planning Committee, lead instructor for Tuesday West African Dance, and general support to all facets of African Dance, Community and Culture. To know and work with Christan is to know love for the African Dance and Drum Cultures, communities, people, music, energies, and characters it brings together.
Hallie Matthews is a middle school visual arts education and yoga instructor based in the Tried. She is a lifelong artist, creator, and mover who values meaningful collaboration and creating spaces for others to reconnect with themselves, their environment, and those around them. Her yoga class honors both Ashtanga and Yin Hatha yoga practices- combining dynamic and relaxing flows that are perfect for dancers or others who want to reconnect with their body and sharpen focus. Join her on Saturday at 9:00 AM to warm up for the day!
Robin Gee, Associate Professor of Dance at UNCG, holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Sarah Lawrence College and specializes in African dance techniques, Caribbean dance forms, and modern dance techniques. Ms. Gee has performed with several New York-based dance companies, including Les Ballet Bagata, directed by Yousouff Koumbassa; Maimouna Keita Dance Company, directed by Marie Basse Wiles; and the Cinque Folkloric Dance Company, where she served as choreographer and Artistic Director for 15 years. She is the recipient of the West African Research Association’s Post Doctoral Fellowship in African Research and the Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub Grant in 2005 for her work on dance documentation in Guinea, West Africa, the American Association of University Women’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for her work on The Mande Lagacy – A Multimedia Dance Documentation Project. She is most recently the recipient of the Fulbright Scholars Award for her work on Urban Griots: R(e) Imaginaing the Word, studying griot cultures in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Ismael Bonfils Kouyate is a Guinean dancer and singer. He is the son of Mama Diabatè and Papa Kouyatè. He was born in Guinea, West Africa to a long line of griots, the oral historians that preserve the history and culture of Africa through songs, stories, music and dance. He began dancing professionally at the age of 12, when he was recruited by Les Percussions de Guinee' to perform in their international tour, which included Europe and Asia. Upon his return in 2004, he joined Ballets Africains, the National Dance Company of Guinea, for their 50th Anniversary Tour of the US, Jubilee! From his performances on this tour, he was contracted by the team of Fela! to serve as a master choreographer for the production. His talent and skills landed him a principle role in the play.
Ismael toured with Fela! from its humble off-Broadway roots in 2008 through its final international tours. He is the subject of a CNN special on Africa in the US where his class of more than 100 people learnt and modelled his dance movements.
He has also worked with Beyoncé, adding his vocals to her hit Grown Woman, the single that is featured on her Pepsi commercial.
Ismael is available as an individual performer or with his band, Waraba, or his West African dance company, African Soul International. He is currently completing his own production about the life of King Sundiata Keita, the ruler of the Malian Empire. He is also working on his upcoming album.
Aboubocar "Amo" Soumah was born and raised in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa. He hails from the popular Guinean Gbassikolo Drum and Dance Company, which is directed by Fode ‘Lavia’ Camara’s father, Mr. Djibril ‘Badjibi’ Camara, of which Amo was a member from 2000-2006. He first discovered his love for his country’s traditional music at the age of eight,and rose to the title of “Djembe Fola”. Since arriving in the United States in 2006,he has been a well sought after performer. At University of Florida, Amo is Adjunct Lecturer and Musical Director of AGBEDIDI in the School of Theatre and Dance.
Kofi Agyei embarked on his journey at a young age studying traditional Ghanaian music from the Ashanti Dynasty. At thirteen years old, he was introduced to the djembe. Traditional styles of drumming from the Manding region of western Africa including; Guinea, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire and parts of the Gambia. His mentors include world renowned musicians, Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu Il and Fode Moussa Camara. In 2009, Kofi attended Charleston Southern University. Over the years, Kofi has made guest appearances at various venues such as the opening weekend for the National Museum of African American History and Culture(2017), Kennedy Center- Millennium Stage(2016), The African Arts Award at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art(2016), Kwanzaa festivals held in New York with the Dinizulu Drummers & Dancers, as well as many other venues with the Asase Yaa Dance Company(2008-2014), Devore Dance School(1998-2011), Wona Womalan(2009-), Ni Dembaya African Drum & Dance Collective(2017-), Traditional expressions(2016-), Coyaba Dance Theater(2016-) and Step Afrika(2018-) including such prestigious events as the North Charleston Arts Festival, Florida African Dance Festival, Dance Africa D.C, Dance Africa NYC, Inaugural Peace Ball, African Arts Awards, and as a touring [solo and ensemble] percussionist with Step Afrika in the off broadway showing of The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence in 2018.