WUNMI IDOWU, CCEDA Outreach Coordinator
Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre | UNGANISHA |
I am a dancer, choreographer, instructor and an event planner based in Calgary. I am also the Founder and Director of Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre which is an African performance company founded in 2006. The name Woezo Africa means “welcome to the land of perfection”, the company strives to preserve the purity of the cultural values and principles of Africa by providing quality entertainment and education to our community by increased community involvement with youth, improve community relations and promote a better understanding and appreciation of the African culture and its contributions to today’s society.
Woezo Africa is committed to excellence and integrity in the training of dancers, the delivery of performances that celebrate such art forms, and the development of community-based programs that utilize the cultural arts to uplift people of African descent. I have devoted the majority of my time and energy to dance performances, instruction and presentation for over 20 years, performing around the world and having the opportunity to introduce western audiences to the vibrancy of African arts and culture.
Throughout my career I have been involved in traditional and contemporary West African dance since the age of 3, performing professionally since 1993 and teaching professionally since 2006. It has been my goal to broaden the public’s idea of what African dance can be by providing a window into the complex cultural backgrounds that inform various styles of African dance as they are performed today.
In 2007, I travelled to my birthplace of Lagos, Nigeria with an ensemble to host the Woezo Dance Festival with the Guild of Nigerian Dancers (G.O.N.D.). In collaboration with G.O.N.D., I invited dance companies from all over West Africa to perform both traditional African styles and contemporary dance styles such as hip-hop and salsa. Workshops were also conducted to provide the opportunity for the ensembles to share their knowledge of various styles with one another.
In 2012, I returned to Lagos to host a second Woezo Dance Festival, this time in collaboration with Ijodee Dance Centre. These experiences demonstrated that traditional African dance modes are not fixed, but fluid and inclusive, readily incorporating influences from other dance styles that allowed them to continue to change and evolve.
I most recently produced the inaugural Black History Month Festival, UNGANISHA, a dance theatre showcase that celebrates the history and influence of African culture on modern dance styles, including Tap, Jazz, Hip-hop, Samba, Capoeira, Step Dancing, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, and Salsa.