Dansartery Brings African Dance to Pensacola



If you ever wanted to learn the art of African Dance, Friday, April 14th at East Pensacola Heights Community Center, Room 3208 is the place you want to be.

Artists from Atlanta are coming to Pensacola to teach young and old, the art of West African Culture.

Toni Young, Haru Blkack and Barago will start promptly at 1 pm for drumming and 2 pm for dance.

“These people have a dance experience of at least 35 years or more in this industry,” said Eleanor Johnson of Dansartery.  “Barago is a Master Drummer who has studied with Master Drummer, Morchim, from West Africa.  Morchim taught in St. Louis at Katherine Dunham School of Performing Arts,” said Johnson.

Toni began performing while in elementary school. At the age of 10, she made her first television appearance dancing with a group called the “Rock-N-Rolletts”. In January of 1971, while fulfilling her requirements as a physical education major at the Ohio State University, she was introduced to African Dance. In the spring of 1971, she requested permission to organize a university-based African Dance Company. Permission was granted and the Uhuru Dancers became an official organization in the fall of 1971.

In 1986, she organized and directed a children’s African Dance Company called “Watoto Uhuru”. Toni was artistic director and one the principle dancers of the Uhuru Dancers as well as artistic director of Watoto Uhuru until she moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1988.

In the years spent in Columbus, she taught classes for the Ohio State University Dance Department, The Governor’s Institute for the Gifted and Talented, The Black Studies Community Extension Center, The Artist in the Schools program, St. Stephen’s Community Center, CAMACO Summer Arts Program, The Ohio Dance Festival, and many other organizations.

After moving to Atlanta, in 1988, she co-founded an adult dance company (Uhuru Dancers, Inc.) and founded another children’s company, (Watoto Uhuru, Inc.).

While in Atlanta, she has continued to perform for many prestigious events and has had residences and instructed classes for many organizations including: The 10th Annual Black College Dance Conference, The National Black Arts Festival Drum and Dance Summit, The Fa Nerye Fa National African Dance Conference, East Athens Educational Dance Center, The DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts, The DeKalb High School of the Arts, and several other private and public organizations.

Ms. Young currently devotes most of her time doing residences for established dance organizations and writing proposals to further expose children to the music and dance of African cultural heritage.

Johnny “Barago” Hayes is a native of E. St. Louis, holds a Master of Arts Degree in Education. He is a certified school teacher and has been a professional percussionist of African drums for over forty years. He performed with the Katherine Dunham School of Performing Arts for twenty years, and continues to provide African Percussion instruction to students in Atlanta and surrounding cities. “Barago” has been a percussionist at Kennesaw State University since 2013 and was music director for fourteen years at the Uhuru Dance Company. In 1996 he performed at the Olympics and has toured throughout the United States. He has received numerous awards such as: the Katherine Dunham Legacy Keeper, the African Dance Community Seed Setter Award in recognition for community contributions and continues to provide classes and workshops to adults and the youth.

 The classes are $5 for children and $10 for adults.  To purchase tickets please call (404)593-4494.

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