The Mensah Family
Gratitude to the Creator and the Ancestors for clearing the path and making this possible
Poster Image Design
Jason “S-Quire” Johnson
Kevin Fraser is a queer, Jamaican-born dance artist, actor, creative director, activist, and multidisciplinary artist). As a creative director, his mission and dream are to create more opportunities for marginalized and oppressed communities and underground artforms. His art encompasses questioning/ reimagining how various cultures and communities collide, the duality between the preservation and evolution of culture through movement, fashion, music, theatre, visual media, film. Dismantling Eurocentric ideas of creating work/ high art vs low art/ the body as a political vessel/the witnessing of art and work created by QT-BIPOC individuals and communities. Kevin Fraser also is host to many queer events in western Canada including being the main host and commentator for the balls presented by VanVogueJam (YVR), VogueYYC, Pink Flamingo (YYC), The Coven ( YVR x YYC x YVR), and The Bad Girls Club ( YYC).
VANCOUVER, BC /
Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh Territory
THE CREATIVE TEAM
SOUND DESIGNER / MUSIC
Wayne Burns (he/him) is an actor, producer and writer from Wagobatik/Truro, Nova Scotia. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s Acting program. He has worked across the country with companies like Soulpepper Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre, the National Arts Centre and Summerworks and can currently be seen on Syfy/Netflix’s Olympus and OUTtv’s Award-winning series’ Avocado Toast and Slo-Pitch. His short films have been supported by The National Film Board of Canada, the Toronto Arts Council, Inside Out Film Festival and CBC. He is the recipient of two Theatre Nova Scotia awards, an ACTRA Award nomination, and was chosen as a breakthrough artist by Now Magazine for his performance in Michael Ross Albert’s Miss and his creative leadership through the acclaimed conversation series Dark Nights.
Sonya Mwambu (she/they) is an experimental filmmaker and editor based in Toronto. Born in Kampala, they grew up in Canada and their work centres on the intersections of their identities through the exploration of race, language and the connections they find through their cultural identity and the experimentations of analog film. Their films The Shirley Card (2018) and On Embracing the Stranger (2020) are currently showing as part of the McMaster Museum of Arts exhibition The Cut, The Tear & The Remix: Contemporary Collage and Black Futures, and their film Banange! (2016) as part of The Archive of Forgetfulness presented by the Goethe- Institut in Johannesburg. Their recent work also includes a screening as part of Cinema Politica’s Being Black in Canada programming, and in 2020 they directed and edited circa. as part of the City of Toronto’s History Museums Awakenings program. Mwambu holds a BFA in Film Production from York University.
Meg Roe (she/her) works as an actor, director, dramaturg, composer and sound designer. She has been seen across Canada at Crows Theatre, Shaw Festival, Theatre Calgary, Canadian Stage, Factory Theatre, PuSh Festival, Alberta Theatre Projects, Bard on the Beach, Theatre Junction, Citadel Theatre, Ruby Slippers Theatre, Electric Company Theatre, Blackbird Theatre, Theatre Aquarius, Arts Club, Belfry, Theatre SKAM, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Catalyst Theatre, RealWheels, Intrepid Theatre, Elbow Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Western Canada Theatre, National Arts Centre, Centaur Theatre, The Banff Centre, Yukon Arts Centre, Why Not Theatre, Savage Society, internationally with the American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco), Center Theater Group (Los Angeles), and as a collaborator with Crystal Pite's renowned dance company Kidd Pivot.
dance Immersion Online Bantaba & Check-In
Hear from director Esie Mensah on the inspiration behind TESSEL. A community Q & A to discuss possible solutions going forward will follow Esie’s presentation. How do we keep these conversations going and engender greater change for Black artists?
7:30 – 9:00 pm
FREE WITH REGISTRATION
Join the Conversation
A Co-Presentation With:
Co-Executive Producers and Lead Commissioners
Lead Project Supporter
Esie Mensah is an artist whose creative footprint extends into many genres, disciplines and regions. As a dancer, choreographer, director, educator and public speaker, Mensah's mastery of storytelling is as diverse as her experience. From working with megastars like Rihanna, Drake and Arcade Fire to historic brands like Coca-Cola, TIFF and the Toronto Raptors, this powerful woman shows no sign of slowing down. She was a featured speaker at TEDxToronto 2019, where she spoke about her experience as a dark-skinned dancer and the process of creating her Dora-nominated production Shades. Her short film, A Revolution of Love, opened Toronto History Museum’s ongoing Awakenings initiative alongside works by celebrity Chef Roger Mooking and Director X. She has led equity and inclusion work at Sheridan College, the Royal Academy of Dance, the University of Calgary and is an Artistic Advisor at The National Ballet School. She is a faculty member of George Brown College and is a mentee of acclaimed dance artist Akram Khan through Why Not Theatre’s Fellowship Program.
WRITER & DIRECTOR
TORONTO, ON / Tkaronto
Natasha Powell is a Toronto native who has been working in the dance industry for 17 years. Her soulful approach to movement that transcends genre can be seen and felt in her dancing, choreography, and teachings. In 2016, she founded her company, HOLLA JAZZ as a forum for developing and presenting artists that work and improvise together, to create harmonious and transformative experiences. The company aims to reinvigorate jazz dance with its sister dances including hip hop and house, as innovative and important vehicles for expression, while showcasing freedom and one’s own identity through the spirit of jazz.