What We Do
African Culture Connection can tailor presentations to meet the abilities and understanding of all ages, from elementary through college and beyond. We perform, teach or combine the two and present in many formats, including:
- Workshops (kids, adults, employee team-building, wellness at work)
- In-school residencies
- After-school programs
- School assemblies
- Public performances
- Summer camps
View our Summer 2017 Nelson Mandela K-2 Residency Results!
View our 10th Anniversary Event Feedback!
Our programs include
Dance is a primal form of communication and is deeply rooted in us. Singing and dancing can bind communities together. Traditional dances are performed for significant events and rites of passage, from birth to death.
African music is complex and polyrhythmic. Students will get hands-on experience while learning about African music.
African art has inspired artists around the world. Art is part of everyday life in Africa. Students may create their own African crafts, such as masks, stamped cloth, jewelry, anklets, headbands, shakers and drums and learn about the significance of these objects in African culture.
The Story is a traditional art form of all indigenous peoples. Many say that West African cultures have elevated the art of Story to its highest form.
If you are interested in taking African dance or drumming lessons, please contact us and fill out the form to submit your request.
Charles Ahovissi is a professional artist dancer, drummer, choreographer, educator, stage costume designer and tailor. He is an approved teaching and performing artist through the Nebraska and Iowa Arts Councils. Charles Ahovissi has participated in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Seminar,” Planning Effective Arts-Integrated Residencies for Students”, Laying a Foundation: Defining Arts Integration and Anatomy of a Lesson: Designing Instruction in Cedar Falls, at the University Northern of Iowa. Since 1986, Charles has toured the world as a member of the Ballet National of Benin, performing and teaching traditional African dance and drumming. Now residing in Omaha, Charles wants to share his knowledge and love of Africa through traditional dancing and drumming to foster better understanding of Africa’s diverse and beautiful cultures. Through dancing and drumming during public performances, school assemblies, residencies, and workshops, Charles promotes unity and multiculturalism while offering students a fun, social and physical activity. Charles provides multicultural lessons by giving students authentic, hands-on experiences with African culture. He creates an authentic African village ambiance and uses ceremonial African clothes as well as traditional instruments to teach about African culture. Charles incorporates a variety of activities into his educational programs depending on the length.
Etienne is director and lead choreographer of Gansango Dance Company, based in Seattle, WA. Etienne is an award-winning professional dancer, choreographer and musician from Benin, West Africa. He teaches and performs traditional African dance from Benin as well as contemporary African dance styles, and has been building his dance repertoire for over twenty years. Skilled in both traditional and modern dance styles, Etienne lives to dance. He teaches African dance classes at Open Flight Studio in Seattle and performs locally, nationally and internationally. He collaborates regularly with African Culture Connection in Nebraska.
Sondra is a teaching artist as well as a performing artist for ACC. She has been a teacher of dance and life skills at Duchesne Academy since 1986 and is a teaching artist for the Nebraska Arts Council. Sondra has an extensive background of education, including a Bachelors of Art Education with a Fine Arts Dance emphasis from San Francisco State University. She has also studied at College of Pacific Berkeley, California, New York University, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the University of Jamaica Caribbean Dance, as well as in Auckland, New Zealand. Sondra has also taught at the University of Nebraska, Creighton University, College of St. Mary, Westside School District, OPS, Mona Preparatory School (Kingston, Jamaica) and the University of Ibadan (Nigeria, Africa). She has accomplished much in the community, including co-founding the Omaha Modern Dance Collective, Jubilee Enterprises and The Black Repertory Ensemble. Sondra serves as a performer and choreographer in the community and has also taught at various churches and hospitals.
Kimberly grew up in a musical family being passionate about the performing arts. She attended Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska receiving her degrees in Vocal Music Performance and K-12 Vocal Music Education in 2005. Kimberly taught vocal/general music in public schools for 7+ years and was introduced to the African Culture Connection (ACC) when Charles Ahovissi brought his in-school residency program to a school where she taught. Kimberly enjoyed learning with her students about African culture so much that she jumped at the opportunity to become a part of ACC as a performing artist dancer in 2011. She became a teaching artist and took on the position of Office Manager in 2013. Kimberly brings much teaching and performing experience to the table and a strong passion for performing arts in the community.
Luc originates from Benin and is currently based in France. Born in Benin, from a family of royal couch by his father and a family layer of the sacred by his mother, Luc was introduced to the practice of dance and percussion at an early age. At thirteen, he began his artistic career with different groups. He was noticed and selected by the Benin National Ballet by Koffi KOKO, Benin International under the direction or choreographer Tara Tindjile Daniel. Based in France since 2002, Luc Aho teaches dance and percussion. He created his own company: Cie Iya Orisha to promote its culture. His humor and patience allow him to share his passion in a way Traditional while adapting to a modern world. Luc collaborates regularly with African Culture Connection in Nebraska.
Gabrielle is a teaching artist and former board member for African Culture Connection (ACC). She is the founder of G. D’Ebony Outreach and works as a substitute teacher for Omaha Public Schools (OPS). Gabrielle is certified to teach Art K-12 with a Bachelors in Education from UNO and has an ESL Endorsment from Concordia University. She taught arts and global studies for five years at Beveridge Magnet M.S. in OPS. Gabrielle is very active in the community, facilitating workshops and partnering with organizations on mural projects and service learning.
N’tifafa Akoko Tete
N’tifafa “Koko” was born in Togo, West Africa, and transplanted to the United States, where she began her formal dance training in Michigan through a youth ballet company. She trained further with Young People’s Ballet Theater, and Flint School of Performing Arts as well as Blue Lake Fine Arts Dance Ensemble. Koko Attended Grand Valley State University in Michigan where she majored in Dance and Pre-Physical Therapy in 2006. She is also an independent study graduate student from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, and performs with Maimouna Keita Dance Company, Fusha Dance, and Les Enfants de Soleil in New York City, Gansango Music & Dance in Seattle, and African Culture Connection in Omaha.
Starlette’s love for African dancing began as a little girl when she lived in Benin, Africa. Her passion for African dance persisted when she moved to the United States at the age of nine. From then on Starlette has strived to share this passion with others. She has previously danced with Umoja and La Belle Afrique Foundation. Starlette began dancing with African Culture Connection in 2006. Ever since, she has been able to share her passion for African dance across the United States.
Aboubacar “Amo” was born and raised in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa. He first discovered his love for his country’s traditional music at the age of eight. Amo hails from the popular Guinean Gbassikolo Drum and Dance Company, which he directed under the supervision of Mr. Jbril Morlaye Camara from 2000 until 2006. Since arriving in the United States in June 2006, he has been a well sought-after performer by companies such as Borenya (Columbia, SC), SHAE Movement African Arts (Charlotte, NC), the Balafon Ensemble (Pittsburgh, PA), the Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble (Dallas, TX), and the African Caribbean Dance Theatre (Tallahassee, FL). Amo currently resides in Gainesville, FL and is an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Florida’s School of Theatre and Dance. He is the lead drummer of the Agbedidi African Dance Ensemble led by Mohamed DaCosta and performs with African Culture Connection in Nebraska.
LaTryce has been teaching for African Culture Connection (ACC) since 2010 and has performed as a dancer with the group since 2009. She is a teaching artist for the Nebraska Arts Council as of 2014 and has been teaching Dancing Classrooms for Arts in Motion (formerly known as The Artery) since 2011. LaTryce is a graduate of Osborne High School, which is located in Manassa, Virginia. In the past she has served as choreographer and advisor at Saint Richards M.S. (2008) and was co-coach of Eagle Nation Dance team at Osborne H.S., Manassa, VA in 2003. LaTryce works in the community as the dance choreographer at Bethesda Temple Seventh Day Adventist Church (since 2010).
Monica is a child of the theater and Omaha native. Before she danced, sung, and acted her way into the hearts of audiences in leading roles on Broadway (Schoenfeld Theatre, Lincoln Center), in feature films (Miramax, Paramount, Columbia & Universal Pictures), television (ABC, FOX, Showtime, Disney), Monica studied and performed in the Midwest. Her passion for African dance grew while studying under her mother, Sondra McSwain. As a member of Actor’s Equity & SAG-AFTRA, Monica’s leading roles also include over 50 national TV commercials, billboards and national magazines. Her credits comprise dancing with notables like Debbie Allen and legendary Michael Jackson (hired as one of only three females) and choreographing for other celebrities such as Raven Symone. Monica’s Choreography and teaching has commissioned her to produce across the globe. Her honors and awards include a full scholarship with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and appearing with their main company. Monica believes in balancing career and life doing missions in the US and overseas, frequenting Rwanda, Africa.
Deirdre McKinley joined ACC in 2015 as a performing artist. Her passion for dance started at a very young age. Throughout her high school and college careers, she participated in talent shows and step shows. Deirdre’s love for dancing and stepping lead her to create a step team at one of the schools where she worked. In 2015, Deirdre had the opportunity to see an outstanding performance by the African Culture Connection. The performance was breath taking. After the show, Deirdre asked some of the performers how she could become a member, and as the saying goes, “the rest is history!” African Culture Connection will forever be a part of Deirdre’s life. Deirdre is currently an administrator with Bellevue Public Schools and working on her Ed.D (Doctorate) of Education at Doane University.
Mackenzie has been a performing artist drummer with African Culture Connection since 2012. Her involvement in music began at a young age with piano and dance lessons. In high school, she played in the drumline and began composing music. After a college trip to Ghana, West Africa, Mackenzie became interested in music from around the world and was inspired to pursue a master’s degree in ethnomusicology. Mackenzie is currently a music instructor at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.
Jessica joined ACC in January 2015 as a performing artist. Her passion for dance began at an early age through ballet and gymnastics. However, she began exploring international dance rhythms when she spent a year in Guadalajara, Mexico in her 20’s. She began dance performance in 2008 with a troupe in Colorado that showcased various styles with an emphasis on Afro Cuban salsa. Upon moving to Omaha, she joined ACC to expand on her knowledge of dance styles and to share this passion with others. Jessica is an English as a Second Language teacher with Omaha Public Schools as well as a Zumba fitness instructor at 24 Hour Fitness. She has been an educator since 2001 and has worked in the fitness industry since 2009. Jessica also enjoys getting children up and moving in a fun way through the Zumba Kids program.
Karen has performed with African Culture Connection as a performing artist since 2016. She received formal dance training at the Omaha School of Ballet with instructor Valarie Rouch, was an original dance member of Hwendo under the direction of Charles Ahovissi, and received training in modern dance at the Omaha Ballet Academy. Being a part of African Culture Connection is very important to Karen, allowing her to honor her heritage!
Tamara started with African Culture Connection in 2017. Her involvement in the arts began at an early age with dance and piano lessons. Continuing into adulthood with painting and her enjoyment of dance, she took a West African dance class and loved it. Now, joining ACC she fulfills her love of sharing the beautiful culture of West Africa through history, visual arts, jewelry, and dance.
Diane joined ACC as a performing artist drummer in the fall of 2016. This was just after she attended ACC’s 10th anniversary celebration, where she participated in the drumming and dancing workshops. When Diane isn’t drumming with ACC, she teaches K-4 music in Fremont, NE. Originally from Iowa, Diane earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Simpson College in Indianola, IA and later earned her Master of Music degree from UNL in Lincoln. Diane has always had an interest in diverse cultures, musical styles, and methods of teaching. She loves the enriching experience of ACC membership!
Destiney joined African Culture Connection as a performing artist in 2013, when an ACC dance leader recruited her for a Rose Theatre collaboration. As a dance enthusiast, Destiney has performed in the community in several plays, including African Culture Connection’s Kaleta at The Rose, Untitled Until Today: A Freedom Story with the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, and Bethesda Temple productions. Destiney is currently enrolled at Metropolitan Community College Institute for the Culinary Arts. She wants to own her own restaurant one day, celebrating African culture and specializing in ethnic and international cuisine.
Learn what organizations we have worked with have to say about African Culture Connection.