Dionne Kamara | Afro-Jamaican Kumina Dance

Artist’s Statement:

My name is Dionne. I am a dancer and dance teacher who lives in NYC. I didn’t always live here, though. I was born and lived in Jamaica, where I would learned to love dance. Every evening after dinner, my great-grandmother, whom we called Simo, would sing, dance and play music from our Jamaican traditions. All of the children in the family would jump up to dance and sing along with her. My family had a great time each night as we danced and sang together. After emigrating to New York with my family, I made it clear to my mother that I wanted to continue dancing like I did when I was in Jamaica. Fortunately, the public school I attended when my family moved to Queens had a dance teacher. Her name was Ms. Witherspoon and she was the first dance teacher I ever had, other than my great-grandmother. I fondly remember being excited when it was Wednesday, which was the day that Ms. Witherspoon came to teach us. During dance class, we were taught special turns, leaps and fancy dance moves. We listened to the rhythm of the music and wiggled with joy. At the end of each class, I always felt happy. I loved moving my body in many new and interesting ways.

I dreamt of becoming a professional dancer. And I did!

Since becoming a professional dancer and dance teacher, I’ve had the joy of performing in many theaters for people here in the United States and all over the world. I’ve taught in Germany, Senegal, Australia, and Brazil, though what I love most is teaching here in New York where I live. In the dance classes I instruct, we will explore how our bodies can stretch, jump, leap, turn and create cool new shapes. We dance with partners and perform for one another in groups. Sometimes, we will dance with instruments, scarves, hoops, stretchy streamers, and other interesting props. Tp dance is to express yourself, it is to be free.

Dionne Kamara at City Lore:

Creative Dance for Primary school students

Dionne Kamara focuses on conceptual based dance pedagogy. She works with teachers to adapt to the grade level and particular needs of the students. Dionne creates lessons that develop partnered and individual dance, literacy-based (books/rhymes), dance of different cultures, and multi-sensory experiences. Her “Brain Dance,” is a warm up exercise based on the neurological development that we go through in the first year of our lives as humans. Dionne uses a poster to illustrate the patterns of the dance to the class and uses every week session to dive into a particular theme or focus, such as gravity and balance or repetition. In the last session of the residency, teachers are encouraged to invite families, but it is meant to be like an open studio rather than a finished performance. 

What students and teachers say about Dionne: