Esie Mensah embraces the past for the future of dance

She’s not a fortune teller but Esie Mensah, does see the future in traditional African dance. The inspirational choreographer and powerful dancer brings her artistry to the 20th anniversary of Kuumba (#Kuumba20), taking place February 6-8, through performance and dance workshops. Kuumba is part of the TD Then & Now Black History Month Series.

Esie’s unique gift, connecting an audience’s mind to a performer’s body, is showcased in Zayo!a project packed with contemporary African and Caribbean dance styles alongside hip hop and house forms. Her performance of Zayo!  at Kuumba constitutes a taste of a larger piece, AKUMA: The Journey, which premieres this fall. In addition, she’ll lead a dance workshop and a second performance, the interactive dance show Vibez with The Black Stars.

Esie is a Hamilton native and George Brown College graduate with an extensive dance resume. This includes an appearance in Coca-Cola’s Freestyle commercial, dancing on So You Think You Can Dance Canada and choreographing a music video for Blake McGrath’s single “Heaven.”

She has always been immersed in traditional African dance. Every Sunday Esie would join family and community members in learning traditional dances of the Ewe tribe from Ghana and Togo. Over a decade later, with a large collection of experience and knowledge under her belt, she has created her own style of dance — one with a distinctively Afrofuturist flavour.

With the Zulu word for ‘future’ as its guiding principle, Zayo!, on Saturday, February 7, takes Afrofuturism and dance to new heights. Esie has embraced the cultures and traditions of African dance and made them new again in order to inspire the next generation of dancers. Meanwhile, the workshop on Sunday, February 8, will focus on Afrofusion dance and give audiences the chance to get involved, as does her final performance of the weekend, Vibez with Black Stars, also on Sunday. It’s an interactive dance show featuring the music and movements coming out of Africa and the Caribbean, with a Q&A following the performance.

Come down to Kuumba, February 6–8, and experience Esie’s extraordinary dance. All performances are FREE for everyone.


Saturday, February 7

Black Stars Dance Workshop
Sunday, February 8

Vibez with Black Stars
Sunday, February 8