The 2014 Bessie Award nominated company has performed globally and nationally in its 16-year journey. They will premiere their new work, Ghana: The Place Where the Chief Sleeps, in celebration of its Sweet 16 anniversary. As cultural heirs to the dance and drum legacies of pioneers such as Asadata Dafora, Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu, Chief Bey, Olukuse Wiles, Baba Kwame Ishangi, Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Nana Kimiti Dinizulu, Asase Yaa's new production will blend the traditional aesthetics of African drum and dance with modern expressions that are found throughout the African Diaspora, including the United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean. Asase Yaa celebrates 16 years of advancing African culture with a concert, a new ballet, a reception, and a call to our community. Join us in commemorating this landmark achievement. With your help we can continue to teach communities to create art and love culture.
Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater (AYAADT)
The Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater (AYAADT) was founded in the summer of 2001. Artistic Director Yao Ababio created the esteemed company based on his love for African traditions and his extensive performing arts experience. Under his leadership, the company has distinguished itself in the dance and drum world for its dynamic and high energy performances as well as for its commitment to excellence and discipline. Where ever they perform, the Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater becomes the audience’s favorite African dance and drum company, a reputation that AYAADT works diligently to maintain.
The architects, musicians, dancers, and staff of AYAADT approach their work from a holistic position. Because their daily lifestyle is embedded in African culture, because they are life-long students of African philosophy, and because they have traveled extensively throughout the continent, their performances are more informed, more dynamic, and more reflective of the African aesthetic.
AYAADT’s authentic and disciplined approach to the filed has afforded them great opportunities in a relatively short period of time. They have had the honor of being a part of many hugely popular productions, including the VH1’s Hip Hop Honors Awards, the premiere of HBO’s Sing Your Song documentary about the life of Harry Belafonte (at the World Famous Apollo Theater), DanceAfrica New York (at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), DanceAfrica Chicago, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, the Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh, Symphony Space on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and the International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn. Around the world, the company has traveled and performed in Japan, Korea, Paris, Amsterdam, Iceland, Ghana, Guinea, Angola, and many other nations.
In the university and collegiate arena, AYAADT has performed at New York University’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Long Island University’s Kumble Theater, and has also performed (or conducted workshops at) Arizona State University, Bucknell, Princeton, Scranton, and Howard, and many others.
The Annual Dance and Drum Concerts For eleven years, Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater hosted an annual concert and showcase every July. “Africa, A Journey in Dance” was successfully produced for seven consecutive years at the York College Performing Arts Theater in Queens, NY. Afterwards, the dance company produced and presented “An Ananse Tale” in Brooklyn, also highly successful. In 2010, a new dance concert was developed, “Djembe in the New Millennium.” This new concert was tremendously popular because it built upon a great legacy of African dance and drum in New York City, the hub for this genre over the past four decades. In 2011 “Djembe in the New Millennium” was quoted as one of the best African shows of the decade “NY1 NEWS”
In all, AYAADT has produced 17 dance and drum concerts with more than 22 of the top African dance companies in America.
Conceptually, Yao’s mission was to establish a Brooklyn-based arts institution that was steeped in African philosophical values and authentic creative expressions, one that would play a critical role in bridging any cultural gaps between the continent of Africa, the islands of the Caribbean, and the United States. The first tangible manifestation of this dream was the Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater. From there, the core foundation was built.