Asanti Dance Theatre’s founder and artistic director, Appiah Annan, is a rare talent originating from Ghana, West Africa. His diverse practice spans many forms of dance including traditional African, contemporary, freestyle, hip hop and acrobatics, along with his impressive skills as a master drummer using both stick and hand drums. Having a successful career on the Australian festivals and cultural dance scene, and with the onset of being awarded an inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2011, Annan has more recently become known for his exploration of the Afro-‐ contemporary dance form, bringing afro-‐contemporary dance to the Australian dance scene in 2012 with his debut work, ‘Sankofa’. This work has received extensive acclaim and has toured theatres throughout regional Victoria and QLD. Alongside this, Annan has developed a series of other short and full length works in this field including Mumo, Solo Unnamed and Spirit and Fire.
Annan’s story begins on the streets of Africa where he began learning hip hop and freestyle under the direction of dance master, Omari Oppong. By age 16 he won Ghana’s national dance championship, a prestigious event that saw him compete against Ghana’s finest dancers. He then trained with Agoro, a well-‐known and respected traditional drum and dance ensemble. By the time he was 18 he had worked with many international artists and companies including Ghanaian pop star, ‘Slim Buster’, the Ghanaian National Dance Ensemble and Afro Moses.
Having little himself, the young, entrepreneurial minded dancer had a vision to make a difference for his community. He initiated Asanti Dance Theatre in Ghana in 2003 when he was 19 years old and there was little work for Ghanaian artists. This project grew from a few artists living and training together on the beach, to an internationally recognised 15 piece drum and dance theatre company that regularly works with guest artists and students from around the world, including annually hosting students from Australian company, Wild Moves. His interest in the afro-‐contemporary form began in these formative years as he engaged dancers from around the world in choreographic exchanges.
On coming to Australia in 2007, Appiah initiated Asanti in Australia. Asanti have quickly become known and respected in the Australian dance scene and have performed at a variety of events including New Years Eve at Fed Square, Sydney Opera House, Australian Dance Awards, Woodford Folk Festival and many more.
Annan has enjoyed a series of residencies over the past few years including with the Footscray Arts Centre, The Drum Theatre and Knox Community Arts Centre. He has also worked with and built connections with many independent and seasoned dancers and organisations.
Appiah maintains a strong connection to community and devotes a lot of his time to working within a range of sectors including performing and operating workshops for youth, the elderly and disadvantaged. Having studied Community Cultural Development at the Victorian College of the Arts, he aims to use the arts to encourage respect, togetherness and understanding among all members of our diverse society. He has an extensive schools and community touring record, having toured with the Regional Arts Victoria Education and Families program 3 years in a row, and touring independently throughout regional Victoria and QLD.
His compassionate and endearing nature saw him initiate Nkabom – a non profit organisation in Ghana, West Africa that draws on the arts and education to engage and inspire youth to gain an education and develop skills that will help them achieve a brighter future. For more information about this visit www.nkabom.org