by Taki S. Raton
Milwaukee’s own Ko-Thi Dance Company will proudly present their children’s performing ensemble, Ton-Ko-Thi this Sunday, September 16 at the Brotherhood of Black Firefighter’s Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Road beginning at 3 p.m.
Themed “Revitalization Dance Party,” this Sunday will be a Ko-Thi fundraiser and gala affair for children and adults with DJ dance music also provided. An exhibition of Ton-Ko-Thi’s training and staged performance skills will highlight the day’s events.
“We are struggling for our artistic lives,” says Adekola Adedapo, Ko-Thi’s public relations coordinator. She adds that “in the absence of a regular season, for which there are simply no funds to produce the kind of productions Milwaukee is accustomed to enjoying from Ko-Thi Dance Company, we will be sponsoring a series of these ‘revitalization’ parties that will give us an opportunity to dance and have some good old-fashion fun together, see Ton-Ko-Thi in action and give our community a chance to sign up your children and support one of the longest running African American institutions in the history of Milwaukee.”
Adedapo says that African performing arts put our children “in touch” with the ancestral heritage that gives us a direction for the future and that this “is very important for our progress as a people in a society.”
Translated as “Little Ko-Thi,” Ton Ko-Thi is the vanguard of Ko-Thi’s Dance Company’s education outreach designed to identify, nurture and develop young artistic talent as they explore African based dance and music idioms. Ranging in ages from 6 to 18-years-old, these 30-50 member youth performers are selected by yearly auditions or chosen directly from ensemble conducted studio classes.
This vibrant children’s performing troupe is included in Ko-Thi’s professional schedules. Their mission is the development of talented children, the exposure of our youth to traditional African performing arts, the stimulation of increased academic performance, the cultivation of normative social skills, and nurturing a cadre of new audiences and ensemble supporters.
“We are not done here because there are fifty young dancers waiting to be trained and anxious to perform for the Milwaukee community. They are being trained by the adult company who has turned their full attention to the development and cultivation of our youth in Ton Ko-thi,” notes Adedapo.
Founded forty-three years ago in 1969 by Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, Ko-Thi Dance Company is a nationally and internationally acclaimed company of artists trained in the history, methodology and techniques of dance and musical art forms from within the African Diaspora. Dedicated to the preservation and performance of traditional African American and Caribbean dance and drumming, Ko-Thi offers audiences a touring gem of research, training and expertise.
Caulker is a native of Sierra Leone, West Africa. She founded Ko-Thi upon her return from a research trip where she studied with the National Dance Company of Ghana at the University of Ghana in Legon. She served as a Full Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Department of Dance where she had been teaching since 1971.
She created for her department the university’s first dance track on the techniques and history of African, African American and Caribbean dance.
In 1995, she was awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship allowing her to spend 3 months in Tanzania, East Africa where she taught at the University of Dar es Salaam.
Contributions additionally include working with the UWASA traditional Cultural Group and providing workshops and lectures for children through the United African American Cultural Center in Arusha.
In 2001, Milwaukee’s Professional Dimensions honored her with their prestigious Sacagawea Award given annually to two outstanding women of achievement.
She has participated on numerous panels including the 1999-2000 State Superintendent’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Arts in Education and the Arts 2000 Dance Panel and has served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Arts Board.
The generous donation of $20 at the door this Sunday will greatly assist towards the continuation of this fantastic Milwaukee gem and the work of Ferne Caulker.
The arts are important for everyone and the survival of Ko-Thi and its prodigy, the Ton Ko-Thi children’s ensemble as an artistic expression, has meaning and significance for all of Wisconsin.
“Let’s not let our children be left behind in regards to their own culture and proud legacy.
“Becoming a part of Ton Ko-thi can really help their progress toward being involved in exploring and experience their African heritage,” says Adedapo
For additional information on Ko-Thi, Ton Ko-Thi or on this Sunday’s fundraising event, please call (414) 273-0676 or email the company at: [email protected] You may also visit their website at www.ko-thi.org.