Artistic Director, School of the Arts
Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation
Zakiya Harris brings a wealth of diverse professional experience and innate compassion to her role as Artistic Director of Asase Yaa’s School of the Arts. Since 2002, she has been a pillar in the school’s development, initial joining Asaye Yaa as a dancer, then later expanding her responsibilities to serve as Dance Captain and an Administrator. Today, as the Artistic Director, she oversees the day-to-day operation of the school, its enrollment, hiring and implements and manages scheduling all the classes. Throughout her 16 year tenure, the school has serviced close to 1000 children, ages 3-18. Although African aesthetics of dance is emphasized, the school also offers several other dance genres including, ballet, tap, modern, jazz and hip hop.
Zakiya advocates and brings a unique perspective and vision to Asase Yaa, “We offer more than just dance lessons, we nurture the whole child. We take a more holistic approach to reinforce their mind, body and spirit,” she explained. “We do our best to provide a healthy environment for children to focus, whether they’re doing it recreationally, or because they aspire to dance professionally. Our long term goal is to help them acquire the skills they’ll need to handle whatever adversity and challenges they’ll face in their lives.”
Zakiya is a seasoned veteran in her field of endeavor. Before joining Asase Yaa, she served as a Certified Dance Teacher and Arts Coordinator for the New York City Department of Education at the Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts. She also was invited and taught a series of special West African dance workshops at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. In addition, she earned a M.A in Dance Education from New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development Music and Performing Arts Professions and has a B.A in Psychology, from Hampton University.
However, she started her journey in dance at the early age of three years old. She attended the highly-regarded Bernice Johnson performing arts school in Queens, NY, which touted several legendary alumni such as, Michael Peters (choreographer for Michael Jackson), Ben Vereen, Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Ashanti, just to name a few. She credits one of her teachers, Carolyn Devore, for being the most influential in her early career development as a dancer. Devore later started her own school, which Zakiya also attended and where she felt she really blossomed and fell in love with dance. From 2003- 2005, she was in the cast of the critically- acclaimed musical, Step Afrika!, which included performances in over 30 cities in the US and several international performances around the world such as; the International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa and Associano Cultural Bloco Carnavalesco lle Aiye Sao Paulo, Brazil.
During her early days at Asaye Yaa African Dance Theater she served as Dance Captain and Rehearsal Director. Some of her most memorable highlights was touring and performing at several major venues around the country such as, the Dubois Museum the Harris Theater in Chicago (Dance Africa), Arizona State University (Ananse), and the Wofabe West African Dance and Drum Conference, Newark, NJ.