Next Up: Umoja African Festival Oakland- Aug 20, 2016

Photo from Umoja Website
My dear African. Black. Melanin-Rich people,

On August 20, 2016 at Lowell Park, Oakland, don't be a learner. If you can say the following:

I am African. I love Africans. I love Oakland. I love music. I love good food. I love people having a good time. I love multi-generational events. I love free!

Then act right because Umoja Festival is all of these things.

This is an event I look forward to every year. And this year it's extra special, because I will working with the fine folks at Umoja to produce the Dance portion of festival so you know it's going to be LIT!

Come to this.

MAY 16: Brazilian Rhythms:

Percussion Workshop with Thais Bezerra

Monday May 16, 2016
Trybe: 2008 Park Blvd., Oakland
$30 for Drop-In
Free for participants currently enrolled in our adult programs

About Maestrina Thais Bezerra:

Thaís Bezerra is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and educator who specialize in Brazilian folk music. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she resides. Bezerra holds a Bachelor Degree in Music from CBM-CEU Conservatório Brasileiro de Música, 2011). In 2014,Bezerra became an Orff certified teacher from the San Francisco School in California, USA. She is currently taking her first semester on music education master program at PROEMUS/UNIRIO (Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro,Brazil).

In addition, Thais is the conductor of two Blocos in Rio: "MULTIBLOCO” and the “Terreirada Cearense (Percussion Ensemble with over 100 percussionists). She also plays with "Bateria Vila Isabel - Swingueira de Noel", one of the Brazilian lead samba school from Rio and she is a member of “Damas de Ferro Brass Band” (a whole female percussion, woodwind and brass ensemble)

Other important work experience as a teacher, conductor and arranger includes an Artist in Residence invited by the Bay Area cultural performance community company "SambaFunk! Carnaval Explosion (" in preparation for the Carnaval San Francisco and Oakland Carnival 2015 and 2016.

Shak Body: Saturday, Apr 23 + Mini Playlist

A culmination of the 'Afro-Urban Dance Elements' workshop, 'Shake Body' is a dance jam meets class meets open-rehearsal meets party. We will get down to the hottest jams from the Afro-music scape: Afrobeats, Soukouss, Kuduro, Coupe Decale and more. Featuring special guest artists!!

Don't dull, come and Shake Body!!
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th Street (corner Mission), San Francisco

Workshop/Class Notes

If you did/are doing a class or workshop with me recently. 
You probably did some of these moves or styles:
  • Azonto/Akayida
  • Etighi
  • Gweta
  • Kuduro
  • Ndombolo
  • Nae Nae
  • Shoki
You'll probably hear/heard any of these songs:
  • Pick Up- Adekunle Gold
  • Zoungou Zongou Dance- Bebeto Bongo
  • My Woman- Patoranking
  • Duro- Tekno
  • Enemy Solo-Psqaure & Awilo
  • Look Like you- Afrobeat Remix
  • Tiguidi- Tour 2 Garde
  • Juju- Noyc ft. Dan Drizzy
  • Shoe Size- Bracket 
  • Woju Remix- Kiss Daniel
  • One Centimeter Remix- Jaguar ft. Iyanya
Also make sure to stay plugged in to for upcoming events/classes to get your afro dance and music.

6-Week Afro-Urban Dance Workshop with Me!!

Afro-Urban Dance Elements
with Nkei Oruche
Featuring Ana La Belle and Shaneeka 'Akemi' Smoot

March 19-April 23, 2016
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th Street (corner Mission), San Francisco
$120/6 weeks


Explore features of African Club and Party dance using popular and high-energy music from the African Diaspora including Afrobeats, Azonto, Coupe Decale, Hip Hop, Kuduro and more.

The Afro-Urban Dance Elements workshop focuses on various features of African Club and Party dance; Freestyle, Solos, Partnering, Line Dance, and Choreography, using popular music from the African Diaspora.The workshop series will close off with a jam session and party-style showcase open to the public.

Open to all levels and interests of dancers from beginner to advanced.

Ciara from Atlanta, Dancing in these Lagos Streets

I probably can't name five Ciara songs off the top of my head, okay probably I can...but I could never pick any Ciara songs as 'MY JAM'. I do know that I think Ciara is like one of THE best dancers in the biz... like it's Micheal, Janet, Ciara. I've said this before, she's BAD.

And I've also said that Afro-Urban Dance and Music is the tool for US to start conversations, to destructs myths, to get to know each other. Us Africans from around the world... whether recent or long long time ago.  I'm tired of the days when I was the only person on either sides of my worlds, cultures that like 'all types'. Looking for even more recognition and intersection across more styles and countries.

I have an extra notch of fancy for Ciara and her dancing. ALSO really appreciate, that she's giving CREDIT, and nod to the experience, to the source, and people. She hired a Nigerian choreographer (albeit the biggest in the game), and although Dolphin estates may not be the 'streetiests' of streets, she is dancing with no shoes on the concrete. Bad-azzzzz... haha.

I mean I know these days the sounds of Nigerian Pop are pretty much American 'Urban' mainstream. What, after all types of collaborations of Nigerian artists with US Rappers & singers, or Instagram postings of Swizz and Alicia keys rocking out to some of the hottest jams from there. Alluva sudden it's cool to be African. I'll take it. Lots more work to be done, but we'll use this.

And what I would have done to be there. Oh shit.

My Favorite clip, of course is the take off solos by the other dancers.

and then this one to Kukere

Reflections on 'Stories of Revolt'

On February 6, 2016 I did the Stories of Revolt - From Azonto to Zouk curated by Stella Adelman from Dance Mission taking place at Red Poppy Art House in SF;  sharing personal narratives as a way to discuss the context of music and dance created by people of African descent in Urban settings. How Soukous, Dancehall, Coupe Decale, Hip hop and the Nigerian Pop soundscape play a role in my struggle with cultural identity, body image, and artistic expression. And how I hope to use the practices of Afro-Urban dance as a way to help rehabilitate the gory effects of colonialism and displacement on people of African descent.

I have to admit that at first I was a bit skeptical about how much mental ability and time I could muster to do this. Still not getting full nights sleep due to having an infant, breastfeeding and navigating a toddler... life is hella unpredictable these days. But I did it!! And I liked it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience with all the folks that came through. It was good for me to share the stories, discoveries and motivation that dance has unearthed in my life. It reinforced and reminded me that I REALLY really love to dance, and that I can do some positive work through this passion/interest.

Without going into too much detail about what I went down at the workshop, I'll share some music here (not all of them got played). Here's the short of it: How music and dance got me through life; From getting my first cassette tape on my 8th birthday (Shina Peters- Afro Juju), to choreographing a piece to Onyeka Owenu's 'Iyogogo' at 10, to discovering Ndombolo from my East African college friends as a freshman in Valdosta, Georgia, to working with African American girls in the Bay Area and sharing the music and dance I grew up with and was discovering as a way to bond with them and the death of my dance angels, my aunt who taught me to get down, and my really good friend Margaret 'Zara Gretti' Joseph, both gone way too soon!

Track List
  1. Shina Peters- Afro Juju (Part 2)
  2. Onyeka Onwenu- Iyogogo
  3. Sunny Okosun- Motherless Child
  4. Chaka Demus & Pliers - Bam Bam
  5. Ini Kamoze- Hotstepper
  6. Mr. Vegas- Heads High
  7. Inoj- I want to be your lady
  8. Lil Jon feat Eastside Boyz & Disco Rick - Shawty Freak A Lil Sumthin
  9. Crime Mob ft. Lil' Scrappy: Knuck If You Buck
  10. 1er Gaou- Magic System
  11. DJ Arafat- Jonathan
and endless more.

Check out my upcoming classes and events where I'll be continuing this journey

Sat, Feb 6: Stories of Revolt - From Azonto to Zouk

I'm all in. Part bare-assed vulnerability. part unapologetic Black joy. 
Dance Mission Theater's D.I.R.T. Festival presents
Dance Mission at the Red Poppy
Fom Azonto to Zouk: Afro-Urban Dance Stories
with Nkei Oruche

Presented as part of MAPP
1/2 dance class / 1/2 lecture-demo

Featuring a sampler of a few Afro-Urban Dance styles, Nkei Oruche shares personal narratives as as a way to discuss the context of music and dance created by people of African descent in Urban settings.

While facilitating participants through high-paced, sensual and back-popping moves from the African-Urban Diaspora, Nkei Oruche will share of her dance journey: from childhood in Nigeria and the United States, young adulthood in California, and now motherhood in Oakland. How Soukous, Dancehall, Coupe Decale, Hip hop and the Nigerian Pop soundscape play a role in her struggle with cultural identity, body image, and artistic expression. And how she hopes to use the practices of Afro-Urban dance as a way to help rehabilitate the gory effects of colonialism and displacement on people of African descent.