Afoutayi Haitian Dance, Music and Arts presents “Experience Haiti”: A vibrant & infectious celebration of Haitian culture drawn from first-hand knowledge. Show takes audiences to a place of connection and delight through a day in a Haitian village, while honoring the rich legacy of Haitian heritage. Attendees will exclaim with delight, “Ayibobo!”
Genre and Content
Comedy Dance Musical Theater Original Music Storytelling Audience participation Historical content Kid friendly
Seat Reservations and Show Tickets
Reviews for: Experience Haiti!
Cast and Crew
Djenane Saint JusteArtistic Director/Choreographer/Performer
Djenane Saint Juste, a native of Haiti, is the Artistic Director of Afoutayi Haitian Dance, Music and Arts Company. She is a seasoned professional choreographer, dancer, actress and vocalist specializing in Haitian traditional dance and folklore. Djenane has also been trained in Ballet, Hip Hop, Modern, Jazz and Ballroom at the Institut de Danse JAKA, Institut de Dance Vivianne Gauthier, and Artcho Dance Company in Haiti. She is the creator and instigator of the Annual Haitian Cultural Festival, and has brought exciting new themes and activities to engage participants in Haitian culture since the first Haitian Festival in 2009. Djenane has dedicated herself to the research, development and promotion of traditional Haitian dance, song and storytelling. She is a former faculty member in the world dance department at the Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, and an artist in residence at Hamline University and St. Olaf University. Djenane's work towards the preservation of Haitian culture has been documented in works such as "Making Caribbean Dance" by Susanna Sloat, as well as "Lavil: Life, Love, and Death in Port-au-Prince (Voice of Witness)" by Peter Orner, Evan Lyon, and Edwidge Danticat. In May 2018, Djenane was the recipient of NAACP award for Excellence.
Florencia PierreCultural Director/Costume Designer/Performer
Florencia "Fofo" Pierre, Cultural Director of Afoutayi Haitian Dance, Music, and Arts Company, has dedicated her life to teaching the stories, songs and rhythms that form the foundation of traditional Haitian culture. Fofo is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, singer, actress and educator, as well as a Mambo (a Priestess in the Vodou religion). Madame Florencia Pierre has performed across the Caribbean, throughout Europe and the United States. Born in La Gonâve, Haiti, she was raised in Haitian traditional culture by her mother. In Haiti, she is a respected elder, a traditional healer, a renowned dancer, choreographer, vocalist, actress and the Founder and Director of the highly respected Institute de Danse JAKA in Pétion-Ville, Haiti where she trained dancers and musicians for over 40 years. She served as a principal dancer of the National Dance Theater of Haiti and the Vivianne Gauthier School of Traditional Arts, she was a professor of dance from 1989-1991, as well as a faculty member of Nationale des Arts in Haiti. Fofo has been featured in “Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance” by Beverly Bell and Edwidge Danticat, and was also featured in the first movie produced in Haiti titled “Anita”.
Hassen Taylor OrtegaYouth representative/ Performer
Hassen Ortega, Youth representative, is a native of Haiti. Hassen is an amazing actor, model, dancer and musician. Relocated to the United States since 2009, Hassen has performed in Haiti with Jaka institute of dance at the age of one. As the youngest member of Afoutayi, Hassen has performed at the Ethnic Dance Festival, Mission Cultural Center, and Dance Mission in California, and at the Festival of Nation, May Day Festival, Landmark Center, Alliance Francaise, Hamline University, Children Hospital in the twin Cities in Minnesota, and many more. Hassen’s goal is to share his Haitian dance and music with you and your children and hopefully inspire you all, as he is inspired!
Originally from Gary, Indiana, Melissa began studying dance at the age of two. Studying various art forms and cultures of the African Diaspora, she has fervently trained, taught and performed in the Twin Cities for the past twelve years. Her background includes: Capoeira, Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Chicago Style House and Footwork, Samba, Brasilian Orixa, Afro-Cuban, West African Dance from Ghana and Guinea, as well as Traditional Haitian Dance. Melissa has been a member of the Afoutayi community since February 2016, actively performing with the company and continually researching and learning about Haitian history, culture, and arts.
Anthony Wilder is originally from Milwaukee, WI, where he grew up immersed in the arts. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts in Music Performance and Journalism and his Masters in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, all the while studying West African and Orisha dances, including multiple trips to Guinea, West Africa to study with several master drummers and dancers. Wilder studied and performed with Master drummer and Griot Mandjou as a member of Limanya Drum and Dance and also a member of Atimevu, a Ghanaian music and dance group. Wilder joined Afoutayi in February 2017, allowing him to get back in touch with previously studied dance forms. Along with his work with Afoutayi, Wilder is also a member of Duniya Drum and Dance, a Minnesota-based West African performance group under the director of Master drummer Fode Bangoura.
Katya Treskunova Russian born and Minneapolis raised, joined the Afoutayi family in Jan 2017. An anthropologist by schooling, design project manager by trade, and movement enthusiast since birth Katya has a unique and multi-faceted background in both creative and business disciplines. The combination of her training in music, gymnastics, and kettlebells is what led her to exploring dance as a movement expression and ultimately, her love for building communities and bridging cultural gaps through dance, music, and story-telling is what motivates her to keep learning and developing herself as a performer. She currently dances, studies, and performs in a variety of genres including Haitian, West African, Samba, Bachata, and Salsa and hopes to continue leveraging her experiences in order to build a stronger, more inclusive community.
Asya Mikhailenko SturgellDancer
Asya Mikhailenko Sturgell has been performing with Afoutayi since 2017. As a former Minnesota Fringe volunteer, she is delighted to make her Minnesota Fringe stage debut as a dancer and singer. A native of Ukraine, Asya lives in the Twin Cities, where she drums up a living as a designer.
Jonathan Jonathan Van ArnemanDancer
Jonathan (AJ) van Arneman, Company Member, is a dancer from Sint Maarten, Dutch Caribbean. He started training with Afoutayi during the Spring of 2017 and has since performed with the company on numerous occasions. AJ is trained in West African Based movement, Contemporary Indian dance, Modern, and Hip Hop, but Haitian dance holds a special place in his heart as a true Caribbean art form that reflects his cultural upbringing. As the Haitian proverb goes: "Sonje lapli ki leve mayi ou" or "Remember the rain that made your corn grow."
Addison Anderson joined Afoutayi in 2018. A senior at The Blake School, Addison has appeared in many Blake productions including Urinetown, The Laramie Project, and Seussical. Most recently, she was the dance captain for Once On This Island. Addison is excited to be performing in her first Minnesota Fringe Festival with Afoutayi.
Jonathan is an Asian American from Houston, Texas. He graduated from Macalester College with a B.A in Anthropology. He is part of the Haitian dance group Afoutayi as well as a Twin-Cities based urban dance group. He likes to eat Asian food.
Clarissa Herman is a Twin Cities-based sex educator and relationship advisor who has been dancing her whole life. She got her start as a toddler grooving to the sweet sounds of the vacuum cleaner, dropped out of ballet class at the age of 6, and started finding her niche when she taught Latin and ballroom dance in Duluth during college. While living in San Francisco, she began taking Haitian dance classes and training in Dunham and Silvestre techniques. She met Djenane St. Juste in 2015, moved back to MN the following summer, and has been dancing Haitian with Afoutayi ever since.
John-Paul Douglas Is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed with Djenane and Afoutayi since the start of 2017. Originally from southern California, he earned a degree from St. Olaf College, whereupon graduation he was employed as the staff musician for their Dance Department. He regularly plays for TU Dance and St. Paul Ballet and is also actively engaged in contemporary and traditional church music, musical theater productions, composing and performing his original music, and fostering open jam sessions and leading music lessons for his communities. As a music educator, he is the accompanist and teaching artist for ComMUSICation in St. Paul and regularly works with students in the St. Paul, West St. Paul, Hopkins and Mounds View public school districts.
Eberle Fort, known as "Bèbèl", is a Haitian musical virtuoso who has been performing and studying traditional Haitian drum, dance and song with Afoutayi since 2015. In Haiti, he was a students at the university of Arts “ENARTS” and was amateur actor and singer well-known in his community.
Fidel Asamoa-Tutu Home is St. Paul for Fidel, who is a Ghanaian-born drummer and vocalist, risk professional, family man, Rastaman, and son of Legba. Fidel joined Afoutayi in February 2018.