Diaspora Performance Project

Diaspora Performance Project: Supporting Artists of the African Diaspora

For over 25 years, Santa Cruz has been a thriving city to a culturally rich dance community. African dancers and dancers of the African diasporas have laid roots with classes that span from Central Africa, West Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and more. As this community has grown and expanded over the years, many of these artists continue to teach. Some have passed their classes on to their former students or hosted and then shared their classes with new immigrants from their own countries of origin.

Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center (TWDCC) has made it a priority through our mission to sustain a dance and cultural space that supports these artists. This is done through offering affordable dance space to teach out of, curating performance opportunities that present the work, encourage further development of the form, and provide opportunities for a new generation of students to learn from these artists.

Oumou Dumu Africa- Cliff Warner Photo Credit

The Diaspora Performance Project seeks to support our thriving community of Artists of the African Diaspora and provide opportunity for the development of new work, deep and meaningful connection to our community, and performance opportunity.

Diaspora Performance Project 2018  give professional support to 5 selected cultural artists; Shawn Merriman Roberts (Haiti), Manjou Kone (Mali), Loubayi Arnaud (Congo), Oumou Faye (Senegal), and Vivien Boussamina (Congo), all of whom teach and work through TWDCC. The project was launched January of 2018 and culminates in October of 2018 with a special community performance during our annual, World Arts Festival.

Photo Credit: Cliff Warner /Dancer: Oumou Faye & Company
The Diaspora Performance Project is made possible by the generous support of the Hohenberg Foundation



Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center’s, Diaspora Performance Project Educational Series  supports Shawn Merriman Roberts (Haitian Dance), Oumou Faye (Senegal), Vivien Boussamina (Congo), Mandjou Kone (Mali), Nano Loubayi (Congo). Each artists will present a teaching/educational community class that exposes new audiences and community to these accomplished artists. The first of the Diaspora Performance Project class series will be held at the MAH’s Abbott Square on Friday, May 25th between 6-8:30pm and will feature Shawn Merriman Roberts, a Haitian dance instructor who has been teaching in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area for over 15 years. Shawn and his drummers will host a beginner’s Haitian Dance class in Abbot Square open to all.

Shawn World Arts West