Kwame Shaka Opare
Kwame Shaka Opare is a classically trained West African dancer with an MFA in Dance from the University of Maryland. At 14, he became a principal dancer with Kankouran West African Dance Company (Washington DC) under the direction and guidance of Assane Konte. As a young adult, Kwame moved to New York where he established himself as a dynamic instructor and choreographer. In the late 90s, he began touring with the Broadway show STOMP, in the lead role and as rehearsal director. The desire to explore the possibilities of West African dance in contemporary performance brought the creation of the DishiBem Traditional Contemporary Dance Group in 2003.
Kwame has created critically-acclaimed works that speak to social issues, including his award winning choreography Sweet Suite Nina, about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the people of New Orleans and the Gulf region. In 2016, Kwame was named Brooklyn Academy of Music’s (BAM) inaugural recipient of the Baba Chuck Davis Emerging Choreographer Fellowship. With the fellowship he spent over three months studying, documenting, performing and choreographing with the National Dance Company of Ghana. Kwame used his expertise as a photographer to create a short documentary film that would accompany his live performance entitled .theProcess: Ghana (BAM 2017)
Kwame is frequently invited to lecture and teach about his use of dance to "disrupt the status quo of marginalized youth in public schools". He was Artist-in-Residence with the Virginia Department of Health/Petersburg Public Schools where he worked with students from the area's lowest achieving school to present a performance at the Adverse Childhood Experiences Summit (ACEs). Kwame was also a featured lecturer at ACEs and received praise for his work in education from fellow lecturer and world renowned author and activist, Dr Jonathan Kozol.