When I perform… Muslimah

I have always had a love for dance but was restricted from dancing until I was an adult. However, I am also an artist in other genres: I sing, write short stories and poetry, I also paint using watercolors but mostly charcoal. I have had only a couple of photography events. I also played the clarinet and most recently the guitar and of course drums (mostly dundun). I did theater years ago and even participated in an Indepent Film. ( I had enough hours to qualify for SAG) but I do not pursue acting.

I have done West African Dance for 22 years. I started briefly in Tucson but when I relocated to Phoenix I found the class after attending Sister Circles in the Valley and was later asked to audition.

I am a Contracted Artist of Kawambe Omowale for 18 years now and have been a Contracted Artist and Board member with the Cultural Arts Commission for approximately 8 years.

My personal relation with dance is emotional and Spiritual. I am grateful that I am even able to dance and the performing is secondary. This is helpful since having an authentic energy and maintaining integrity and respect for the dance and meaning are very important to me.

thwacpep - muslimah

 

“When I perform… I often feel it is a way of praise and an opportunity to connect others as well as honoring my ancestors.” ~ Muslimah

As an African-American who has yet to travel to the Continent all we have been able to do is research. We found out that I do have a Great, Great Grandfather that was from Nigeria. And when I first meet any new African Sisters and Brothers they tell me that is in my face. Of course there is supposedly Native blood, Blackfoot but that is not confirmed.

I gained an affirmation I guess, some validity for what my passion has been. It is obvious that I am of African descent but certain characteristics or interests that I have always felt a drive for was supported by my family and the research in where we as a People come from. I believe our DNA is the foundation for science and art but also in its respect for nature and community. I am not limited to names others try to give me such as Hippie, Socialist, Humanitarian, etc. I am a Daughter of Africa and that transfers into my artistry since I am representing myself and the ones before me; attempting to be my best self.

Kawambe-Omowale African Drum & Dance Theatre

We are proud to introduce Shannon Nia, a captivating performing arts company that offers a glimpse of West African culture through performances of drumming, dancing, singing, and storytelling. Kawambe-Omowale is a Phoenix-based arts company celebrating more than 20 years in the Valley of the Sun! Members perform throughout the Southwest and give the public a first-hand opportunity to experience West African music for themselves through our weekly community class.

Our members have traveled to Senegal, and The Gambia in West Africa, to study the music and dance of the Mande cultures. We have also studied with master artists from other African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria, and with master artists of Afro-Cuba de Mantanza, an international performing arts company from Cuba.

We have performed for events such as the Festival of Nations, the Yoruba Arts Festival, the International Youth Arts Festival, the International Percussive Arts Society's National Convention, and City of Phoenix Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast. 

We are roster artists listed in the Arizona Commission on the Arts Artists Roster in the Performing Folk Arts category. We are available for school-based residencies, after-school programs, and community outreach workshops.

Our performances are educational, entertaining, and engaging while appealing to audiences of all ages from preschool through senior adults. Performances include audience participation so anyone can join in the fun!

Learn more about Kawambe-Omowale African Drum & Dance Theatre - http://www.kawambeomowale.com/

When I perform... Tafa

The Name Tafa, was given to me on one of the many trips made to West Africa with Kawambe- Omowale. It is basically and Arabic given name The name is an epithet of Muhammad that means - The Chosen One. It is a very common male given name throughout the Muslim world.

West African Drum and Dance. Most of the performances pieces come from parts of West Africa. Most of the dance pieces represent traditions and events that have taken or take place within communities.

I have been a part of Kawambe - Omowale for over 30 plus years

The dances from west Africa are more grounded with a connectedness to the earth in many of the pieces.

My ethnic origin is African American, going back 4 generations from Mississippi and South Carolina as best I can tell. Prior to that is the African American story often told about existing in the South.

Some of the things I have gained artistically and culturally is a realization that people are basically the same around the world, celebrating, important events and birthdays that have come to be meaningful within cultures.

"There is a sort of freeness  and self-expression that comes with the drumming." ~Tafa