Meet The Company
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Yao Adu is a West African percussionist and has dedicated over 20 years to training in traditional music from Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. He began his studies of the Djembe ensemble under Masters Baba Kofi Gyemerah (Authur Hall Company), African Heritage Dancers & Drummers) and Baba Melvin Deal (Founder of African Heritage Dancers & Drummers). He has performed with many companies including African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, Coyaba Dance Theater and Kankouran.
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Christylez Bacon is a Grammy® nominated progressive hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist from southeast Washington, D.C. Christylez multi-tasks between various instruments such as the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar, and the human beat-box, while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling. With a mission toward cultural acceptance and unification through music, Christylez is constantly pushing the envelope. He has received multiple awards including the Washington Area Music Association Artist of the Year in 2013 and the Montgomery County Executive Award for Excellence in the Arts.
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Quran Chamberlain, a native of Queens, New York, is an artist, creative and educator. He has over a decade of experience. He has studied and trained at Adelphi University, Alvin Ailey, DeVore Dance Center, Broadway Dance Center and the Motivating Excellence Season 5 program. He has led students as a teaching artist, toured with recording artist Kat Deluna and performed with the Forces of Nature and Balance Dance Theater.
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Dionne Eleby is a graduate of Elon University where she majored in Musical Theater and minored in African-American Studies and Business Administration. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Dionne has performed with the African American Dance Ensemble, ArtPark Regional Theatre, and Rotterdam’s Lef in Holland. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
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Jabari Jones, is a native of Detroit, Michigan. He started dancing at the age of 8 – inspired by the performances of recording artist, Usher. He was a featured performer for artists such as Aloe Blacc, Detroit 1-8-7, Elijah J, Jacob Latimore, K Jay Music, and The Music Factory. He has performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and acted in productions of College Boyfriends and Mooz-Lum. Jabari studied English at Morehouse College. He joined Step Afrika! in 2017. He is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
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Akievia Hickman is a native of Tallahassee, Florida. She attended Florida A&M University where she received a BA in Business Administration and a MBA. Akievia was introduced to stepping in high school as a member of the Code Red Step team. In college she joined the Rampage Step Team. She is trained in hip-hop and jazz and she studied modern contemporary dance under the direction of Shepiro Hardemon as a member of Mahogany Dance Theatre. She is a member of the Beta Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
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Conrad R. Kelly II, assistant artistic director of Step Afrika!, is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he attended Dillard High School of the Visual and Performing Arts. While attending Florida A&M University, he became a member of the Marching 100 and the Strikers. After college, Conrad became a soloist for The Rolle Project in Las Vegas as well as a dance instructor with Studio 305, where he regularly taught classes in hip-hop, contemporary and jazz dance. Conrad plans to use his performing and teaching experiences to open a mentoring program for young male dancers.
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Dustin Praylow is a native of South Carolina. He began his dance training at Dancin’ On Main Studios in Lake City under the instruction of Karl Singletary and Paige Strickland. Dustin studied modern, contemporary, and ballet at the University of South Carolina, where he received his BS in Biology with a minor in Dance. Dustin began his professional dance career in 2016 with Norwegian Creative Studios, performing in the Broadway Show After Midnight on the Pride of America, RSSC Mariner, and the Norwegian Escape. This is Dustin’s first season with Step Afrika!
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Anesia Sandifer is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia where she received a BBA in Finance and minored in Dance. She is a member of the Zeta Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, where she served as Step Master. Anesia was a full scholarship recipient at the 2015 Debbie Allen Summer Intensive in Los Angeles, CA. She has performed on ESPN for the Special Olympics 2015 World Games as a dancer for O.A.R. and Siedah Garrett.
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Jonathan McClinton Smith is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. He trained under the direction of Terrance Henderson and Vibrations Dance Company. As a member of the company, he toured, taught and performed with Vibrations Dance Company and he served as the Assistant to the Choreographer. He attended the University of South Carolina where he received a BA in Music with an Education Cognate. After graduation, Jonathan was a Production Dancer and Aerialist for Celebrity Cruises. He appeared in the award-winning film, Rising, and performed with the Cirque du Soleil company - Cirque Dreams. He is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, and Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity.
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Valencia Odeyka Emonni Springer is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Valencia received her BA in Elementary Education and served as the first “Stand Queen” (captain) with the Ambassadors of Sound Marching band at Virginia Union University. She studied ballet, jazz, African, hip-hop, and contemporary dance at Restoration Youth Arts Academy and has performed with Forces of Nature and Dance Africa (Brooklyn, NY). Valencia is a proud member of the Nu Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the Eta Psi Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary band sorority. This is her third season with Step Afrika!
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Jordan Spry, assistant artistic director of Step Afrika!, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, joined Step Afrika! in 2012. He was first introduced to stepping in high school, when he joined the Progressive African American Cultural Society. Jordan attended Howard University and graduated with a BBA in Marketing. At Howard University, he stepped with Drew Hall Step Team. Jordan served as a head coach for the Drew Hall Step Team, where he choreographed many first-place winning pieces for the Howard University Homecoming Step Show. Jordan is also a freelance photographer, capturing moments from Step Afrika!’s tours around the world and personal work at home in the D.C. area, as well as an aspiring model.
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Pelham Warner, a native of The Bronx, New York, attended Dutchess Community College. As a teenager, Pelham was a member of The Players Club Steppers. He then found his home stepping with the Harlem, New York-based group, The Order of the Feather Fraternity, where he served as the team’s Step Master and captain for five years. He is blessed to have the opportunity to continue his passion for stepping, performing, and teaching with Step Afrika!
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Robert Warnsley is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Information Technology. Robert learned to step and stroll as a member of the Eta Tau chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In addition to stepping, he practices hip-hop and Chicago-style footworking. This is Robert’s third season with Step Afrika!
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Kanysha Williams is a native of the Washington Metropolitan area and a dynamic actress and singer. She began studying vocal performance at the age of 14 at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., and she continued her studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and George Mason University. Kanysha has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, N.Y., and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Kanysha has performed in the The Color Purple, The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin, and Little Shop of Horrors. Off stage, Kanysha is a museum educator for the Smithsonian Institute, and a private voice and piano instructor.
Photos by Jordan Spry