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Inaugural YENSA Festival coming to Toronto: A Celebration of Black Women in Dance


Toronto’s YENSA dance festival performers include: Tasha Ricketts, Tamla Matthews, Shameka Blake, Jaz Fairy J Simone, Funmi Adewole, Esie Mensah, EKSPRESYON, and Lua Shayenne Dance Company

TORONTO, June 29, 2022 – YENSA Festival just announced programming for the inaugural dance festival taking place August 13-28, 2022 at multiple venues in Toronto’s Regent Park with workshops and performances by Tasha Ricketts, Tamla Matthews, Shameka Blake, Jaz Fairy Simone J, Funmi Adewole, Esie Mensah, Ekspresyon, Lua Shayenne Dance Company, and more. YENSA Festival is the first Canadian international biennial festival that celebrates the work of women in dance, from African and Afro-diasporic culture.

The YENSA Festival will begin with a series of workshops including: Dancing the Cloth: The Joy of Skirts and Sashes in Caribbean Dance with Tamla Matthews; Hip Hop Fusion Choreography by Shameka Blake; followed by a public talk and conversation titled ‘ Crafting the story of your choreography: for black female dance artists’ with Funmi Adewole; and much more.

The closing weekend of YENSA Festival will include performances at Daniels Spectrum’s Ada Slaight Hall showcasing black women in dance featuring: Jaz-Fairy J Simone, Artists in Motion Dance Company, Lua Shayenne Dance Company on August 26; Funmi Adewole, Esie Mensah, and Ekspresyon on August 27; and an ATSIA CIRCLE, a dance and drum celebration led by US master drummer Fara Tolno on August 28.

Led by artistic director Lua Shayenne, YENSA Festival invites audiences to witness and celebrate the incredible history and evolution of Black dance. In Fanti, yensa means ‘Let’s Dance’, while yenka means ‘let’s talk’. This incredible festival sparks conversations about the diversity of African Diasporic aesthetics, its histories and politics through performance, workshops, exhibitions, and public talks.

YENSA Festival is open to women artists from around the globe who self-identify as black. The mission is to champion, highlight and present choreographic work by women of Black, African Diaspora and African descent. Its driving principles are solidarity, sisterhood and artistic excellence. With this Festival, Lua Shayenne Dance Company wishes to highlight black women choreographers, from African or Afro-diasporic culture and the accompanying research/process which lead to developing their creative practices.

YENSA Festival – Just the Details


YENSA Festival


August 13-28, 2022


Ada Slaight Hall in Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street West
Toronto Met, The Student Learning Centre, 341 Yonge Street

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