Kwame Shaka Opare is a classically trained West African dancer. At 14 he became a principal dancer with Kankouran West African Dance Company under the tutelage of mentor and artistic director Assane Konte. As a young adult Kwame moved to New York City where he quickly established himself as a dynamic and exciting instructor and choreographer. By 21 he had performed and produced works for all of the major traditional African and traditional/contemporary African dance companies in the city. In 1998 Kwame began touring with the Broadway show STOMP. While with STOMP, Kwame attained the lead role and became rehearsal director for two touring casts. Using his diverse experience in the performing arts Kwame founded DishiBem (pronounced dee-shee-bim) Traditional Contemporary Dance Group in 2003 to bridge the gap between traditional West African and contemporary performance modes. Kwame has created critically acclaimed, award-winning work that speaks to social issues around the World including a Katherine Dunham Award in the category of Best New Choreography for “Suite Nina” which he choreographed for Muntu Dance Theater Chicago. In 2010 Kwame was awarded an appointment as Masters of Fine Arts candidate at The Graduate School of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies at The University of Maryland College Park. While in graduate school Kwame met dancer, Emily Oleson and in 2014 they co-created "Same Differents"; a duet that investigates cross-cultural connections in dance and challenges perceptions of gender and race.
In 2013, Kwame was invited to teach at the American Vernacular Dance Week as a part of the annual Augusta Heritage Festival at Davis & Elkins College. While at Augusta, Kwame collaborated with renowned Contra and Square Dance Caller, Will Mentor, and created a West African Square and a West African dance Contra.
Kwame is renowned for his ability to engage students and audiences alike and successfully convey the meaning and purpose of work he creates. This talent is echoed in the classroom and dance studio with students of all ages. He is praised by students, educators, and administrators for his successful methods of making learning an engaging and sustaining experience.
Guest Artist Offerings
Original and contemporary choreography
Most often these works are social commentary related specifically to the demographics and location of their creation
Traditional West African Technique (Intro. to Advanced)
Pedagogy that makes the varying modes of West African dance aesthetic accessible to all types and levels of dancers and non-
South African Bootdance / Gumboots
From the Village to the Stage: History of West African Dance in America (A social, political, and cultural
Active Participation Lectures (Professional Development)
Dance in Education (k-12/Higher Ed)
Curriculum, Lesson Plan writing/creating (arts integrated and enrichment),
Classroom Management Tough Skin - Soft Heart: being effective as an educator in a "hostile" classroom
Pedagogy/Methodology: From Classroom Teacher to Rock Star Educator: Tips on how fully engage and
empower your audience
Kwame is renowned for his ability to engage an audience and effectively transfer meaning and purpose. This talent is echoed in the classroom and dance studio with students of all ages. He is praised by students, teachers, and principals alike for his successful methods of making learning an engaging, fun and rewarding experience.
Sought after for his experience, insight and artistic vision, Kwame also works as a consultant on film projects, photo shoots, music production and musical and dance performances.