Kaitlyn McDermitt was born and raised in Jackson, New Jersey. She began her classical training at the Academy of Dance Arts under the direction of Jennifer James Church where she was a successful candidate of the Royal Academy of Dance examinations. She was a pre-professional dancer with The Company of Dance Arts where she performed lead roles such as Dew Drop, Snow Queen, and Sugar Plum in the Nutcracker, and Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. In December of 2012, Kaitlyn graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Dance Performance where she performed works by George Balanchine, Adam Hougland, Millicent Johnnie, Max Stone, Jessica Lang, and Mel Tomlinson. Following graduation, she performed with Roxey Ballet in the roles of Dew Drop Fairy, Arabian and Spanish in The Nutcracker, and Bagherra in their world premier of Mowgli. Kaitlyn then moved to Dallas, Tx in 2014 to dance with Avant Chamber Ballet. There she performed as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol Ballet, Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, and premiered her first professional choreographic work “First Look” in their Women’s Choreography Project in 2017.
DIANA STANTON www.dianastanton.com is an Associate Professor of Dance at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA, and she directs the Dance Program within the Theatre and Dance Department. She directed the program’s Orchesis Dance Company from 2009-2014 and has choreographed for Cal Poly Music department’s RSVP Performance and the Cal Poly Symphony. In 2016, her first Dance for the Camera, "State of Grace," was selected for screening at the Front and Main Dance Festival in Temecula CA, Petaluma International Film Festival in CA, Bare Bones International Music and Film Festival in OK, and the Flying Frame Film Festival in Illinois. Diana was also the Co-Founder, Co-Artistic Director, and Administrative Director of Variable Velocity Performance Group in San Luis Obispo, CA where she created original choreography and multi media projects for more than 12 years. She received an M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a B.A. in Dance from the University of California, Irvine. Her choreography has been presented professionally in venues including: UpSide Dance Company in Healdsburg, CA, Jumpbrush Pacific Dance Convergence, San Luis Obispo, CA; Choreography Under the Stars at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert; UC Irvine; CU Boulder Boulder; Jazz Dance Workshop; Dancers for Life, a benefit for AIDS at Riverside Community College; Cal Poly; Allan Hancock College; the L.A. Open Festival; and several American College Dance Festivals throughout the U.S. In addition to teaching at Cal Poly, Diana has also taught classes and Master Classes at Riverside Community College, Allan Hancock College, PCPA, Cuesta College, CU Boulder and the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop. She was a founding member and Artist for the first Jumpbrush Pacific Dance Convergence in San Luis Obispo, CA in 2010, and again for the festival in 2012 where she was a featured performer in Joe Goode’s “Excerpts from When Things Fall Apart.” Diana focuses on released athleticism, contact improvisation and inverted techniques in her teaching and choreography.
WEST AFRICAN DANCE INSTRUCTOR
A dancer, teacher, performer, and choreographer for well over 15 years, Mecca Madyun received her MFA in dance and somatics (Body-Mind Centering® certificate) from the University of Colorado Boulder where she was a Graduate Instructor.
She has performed with Onye Ozuzu, Jeffrey Page, Chuck Davis, Rennie Harris, Gesel Mason, Teena Marie Custer, and the Entertainment Industry’s Spank Rock, MIA, India Irie, and Navasha Daya of Fertile Ground.
Her performance career has taken her to Germany, Switzerland, France, Guinea, Senegal, and all over the nation, locally.
Mecca learned under Youssouf Koumbassa and Mouminatou Camara having danced with Kulu Mele (Philadephia) and Sankofa Dance Theater (Baltimore), continuing her studies with Djenebda Sako and Fara Tolno in Colorado.
She most recently served as assistant for two of her long-time teachers and mentors, Emmy Award winning choreographer Jeffrey Page and Onye Ozuzu and continues to teach for numerous esteemed dance organizations here in the United States such as the American College Dance Association (ACDA) and Colorado Dance Alliance, as well as university residencies.
Mecca’s teaching pedagogy is steeped in old and new world African (American) philosophy, somatic awareness/mind-body connection and experiential learning, as well as music and rhythmic exploration.
KING SALIM AJANKU
WEST AFRICAN DRUM INSTRUCTOR
From the villages of West Africa to the lights of Madison Square Garden, Salim mesmerizes audiences with his unique style of West African percussion. His sound is steeped in the authentic yet rich and vibrant tradition of the Djembe Orchestra. Salim infuses electronics, rock, be bop, hip hop, reggae, and jazz with that sound, giving the listener a smooth transition between the music of today and the traditions of yesterday. Both flow through him.
Being born in the hip hop generation to a family of dancers and drummers, Salim has been drumming as long as he can remember. He has traveled and studied extensively throughout West Africa including Guinea, Senegal, and the Gambia learning from such master musicians as Abdou Konte, Mamady Keita, Famadou Konate, Baile McKnight, and Dam Gueye; and as an artist, has performed with various artists from international greats Roy Ayers, James Ingram, Wyclef Jean, Neon Hitch, Spank Rock and Tony Allen to Wunmi and Ras (Rhythmic Altered States) for Sonar Collective in Germany.
Salim has played and toured with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and has performed in numerous venues nationally and internationally including The Lyric Opera House, The Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, as well as The Brixton Academy of Music, Madison Square Gardens and Carnegie Hall.
His travels have also taken him abroad to Brazil, Japan, The United Kingdom, Whales, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Canada, and South Africa.
Salim is also Artistic Director of the renowned Sankofa Dance Theater (SDT) (Baltimore, MD). SDT has created and presented world-class authentic African art in the form of dance, music and folkways for national and international audiences since 1989. The work of the company is rooted in healing and bringing intercultural understanding to the global village while staying true to the definition of the word “Sankofa” which means to learn from the past in an effort to build for the future.
Sankofa Dance Theater reaches back into the rich legacy of African Culture and history to move forward into a greater awareness and sensitivity to the world community.