HAATz Off to Pioneer Teachers of MPS Column:
Ko-Thi Dance Company, based in Milwaukee , WI was founded in 1969. The words Ko-Thi come from the Sherbro Language of Sierra Leone, meaning, “To seek and search for Black culture.” The Dance Company is comprised of local artists trained in the history, mythology and techniques of the African, Caribbean and African American culture and committed to the preservation of these forms. Ko-Thi uses a wide range of traditional instruments, authentic costumes and electrifying dance and music bridging the cultural gap between people of all backgrounds. Ko-Thi’s touring ensemble is nationally and internationally renowned.
More than a performance ensemble of dancers and drummers, Ko-Thi offers extensive programs. In its home base of Milwaukee, Ton Ko-Thi, ‘little Ko-Thi”, is the Company’s children’s dance ensemble. Ko-Thi provides weekly classes in dance and drumming to individuals of all ages. “DRUMTALK” an in school program offers educational workshops, performance demonstrations and master classes in African and Caribbean dance and music.
In 2008, Ko-Thi reached over 42,000 school ages children through its educational outreach initiative. In 2009, Partnerships with the Department of Tourism, County of Milwaukee’s Wellness Council, Bayshore Town Center, King Drive Commons, Daniels Mardak Boys and Girls Club and, last but not least, University of WI- Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts/Dance Department, continue to enhance the Company’s ability to reach a wide and diverse population.
Over Ko-Thi’s 40 year plus history, it has performed Continued from page 1 around the globe: The Mitsui Festival in Tokyo, Japan; The Harbour Front Premier Dance Theatre in Toronto, Canada; Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors Festival in New York City; and the DanceAfrica Festivals in Brooklyn, New York, Minneapolis and Chicago.
Comprised of 24 adult performers and interns and over 40 children in Ton Ko-Thi, this rare Wisconsin gem continues to display enthusiasm towards its mission amidst a difficult economy.
Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, is the founder of the nations third oldest ‘surviving’ African dance company. Caulker is a native of Sierra Leone, a Full Professor at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Dance Department and a 1995 Fulbright Scholar to Tanzania, East Africa. Ko-Thi is funded in part by UPAF, NEA, UWM, The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, City, County and State Arts Boards.
Ferne will be one of the honorees celebrated at the Historical African American Teachers (HAAT) of MPS organization’s March 26 luncheon at Serb Hall. She will be recognized with the Gerald Wallace Lifetime Achievement award for Historic African American Artistic Directors. The program will run from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Tickets for the luncheon are limited, and can be purchased at the HAAT office 1840 N. Farwell #405 for $26.00 each. You can also call (414)551-2107.