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Welcoming and Expanding

Jama Jama means Peace and Peace.

No strangers to the African American Cultural Center, we welcome back Youssou Lo as our Drum Director and welcome back Netanya Thompson as she transitions to Dance Director.

Both are artistically talented and we’re very excited to have them!

Jama Jama, Netanya & Youssou hope to rebuild the bridge to the community.

Netanya Thompson, a growing creative artist born in Buffalo NY began her dancing career studying traditional and non traditional West African dance at the African American Cultural Center at the age of 3. Graduating from Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts Netanya continued her studies at Buffalo State College earning a Bachelor's of science in Business Administration, with a minor in dance. Training in African dance under AACC instructors, Robin Hibbert and a variety of master teaching artists, Netanya has been able to create and share her passion both on and off stage. Returning back to the cornerstone of the community as Dance Director, Netanya thrives to bind art, cultural connections and inspire a shared love of Dance! "Art is the internal conversation inspired to be free, the freedom to communicate as it pleases".

Youssou Lo is a native of Senegal, West Africa. At the age of 5, he began his apprenticeship of many West African drum and dance styles with Ballet Rhythm African de Senegal. His training was under Senegalese master drummer and dancer Babacar Drame. Youssou studied djembe drum and dance traditions for 10 years, including the art of stilt dancing and eventually became the choreographer and assistant director of Ballet Rhythm. The dance companies he worked with are numerous and include: Unite African, Tam Tam D'Afrique, and Ballet Bougarabou. It was Ballet Bougarabou that eventually brought Youssou to North America in 1993. As a performer and artist, he has traveled throughout the U.S.A. and internationally to perform in Germany, Canada, Cyprus, and Brazil. Youssou is also an accomplished oil and glass painter. Trained by his father, Babacar Lo, he has taught Senegalese oil painting to students in many schools and communities. In 1996, Youssou co-founded " 'Safarace' the Sounds of African Drum and Dance" in Pittsburgh, PA Today, Youssou resides in Buffalo, NY and continues to perform his craft and teach drum and dance in schools. Known for his friendly and warm nature, Youssou's love for music and teaching skills has endeared himself to students and audiences. The AACC has expanded their horizons and now has a modern & contemporary dance department headed by Jacqueline Cherry.

Jacqueline Cherry earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Theater at Buffalo State College. Cherry started dance training at Miss Barbara’s School of Dance and Buffalo Inner City Ballet. Cherry acted in various plays at Alleyway Theatre, Paul Robeson Theatre, and Ujima Co. Cherry received a Master of Fine Arts in Dance at the University at Buffalo where she received an award for Academic Excellence and was accepted into UB’s Social Impact Fellowship program. Cherry has accepted the position of Director of Modern and Contemporary Dance at the African American Cultural Center. Because of her interest in Critical Race Theory, Black Feminist Thought, Sociology, Performance Theory, and activism through art, Cherry is inspired to create compelling works. You can find her work by going to Classes for both departments will resume on September 12, 2022. Registration begins August 12, 2022. For more schedules and information, please contact one of the directors at the agency. 716-884-2013.

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