Kwame Shaka Opare (KSO) is a multi-faceted artist. Classically trained in West African dance, KSO became a principal dancer with the prestigious Kankouran West African Dance Company by age 14, under artistic director Assane Konte. By age 21, Kwame established himself as a dynamic instructor and choreographer in New York City, performing and producing works for all the major traditional and contemporary African dance companies. In 1998, Kwame began national and international tours with the Broadway show STOMP, attaining the roles of lead and rehearsal director. After his successful run with STOMP, Kwame merged his diverse performing arts experience by founding DishiBem (dee-shee-bim) Traditional Contemporary Dance Group in 2003. Under its mission to bridge traditional West African and contemporary performance modes, Kwame has created award-winning works that speak to profound social issues, including a Katherine Dunham Award for “Suite Nina,” choreographed for Muntu Dance Theater Chicago. In 2016, Kwame received the first Chuck Davis Emerging Choreographer Fellowship from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Kwame spent a three-month residency in Ghana, working with the National Dance Company and other dance artists. He documented the experience through photography, videography and the written word, and is coalescing his interpretations and artistic vision in his most recent work, theScope.theWork.theProcess: GHANA.
Renowned for his ability to engage students, educators, and audiences alike, Kwame is frequently sought to speak about his use of dance to disrupt the status quo of marginalized youth in public schools. He recently completed an Artist-in-Residence with the Virginia Department of Health/Petersburg Public Schools and was a featured lecturer during the Adverse Childhood Experiences Summit in Petersburg, VA. In fall 2017, Kwame will lead a professional development workshop for dance educators during the Kennedy Center’s 2017-18 season. Kwame believes dance is engaging, thought-provoking and for everyone.
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