Nicknamed, Merlin the enchanter, Merlin Nyakam is a dancer, singer, actor and choreographer.He has reached an international status for his interpretations and teaching of African and Afro-Contemporary dance.He took his first artistic steps at 5, and at 14 he joined Cameroon’s National Ballet. He became the company’s main dancer at 16.
In 1990, he founded his own company and won an award from Cameroon’s Ministry for Cultural Affairs. He also won an “Epi d’Or” and is celebrated as “Best Dancer” in 1991.Since 1992, in France, he participated in numerous creations with several choreographers, ranging from Gérard Gourdot, to Philippe Jamet, and Frédéric Lescure, Georges Momboye, Norma Claire, etc…He also danced for the singer Angelique Kidjo’s FIFA World Tour, and remains her choreographer.Since 1997, in the Montalvo-Hervieu duet company, he has been part of all their creations: "Hollaka Hollala", "Paradis", "le Jardin Io Io Ito Ito", "Babelle Heureuse", "Les Palladins" and "On Danfe".
In October 2000, he won the "Prix d'Accueil Studio" awarded by the "Val de Marne Biennal Dance" & the "National Choregraphic Center of Creteil and Val de Marne", which allowed him to found his own company: "La Calebasse de Merlin Nyakam"."Récréation Primitive", his first creation, was enthusiastically welcomed byprofessionals and by the public, and is followed this year by the promise of a"Liberté d'Expression" (Freedom of Speech).
Jacky Essombé is a “cultural liaison” between the African and the Western worlds. Originally from Cameroon, she grew up in Paris and now lives in Vancouver. She has toured in Canada, the United States and Europe with major recording artists and has appeared on television worldwide.Jacky invites you to open your heart and feel the spirit of Africa with her. She has a passion for Africa, the traditions, history and cultures as well as the wisdom of her ancestors – and wants to share them with you! A dancer and storyteller, Jacky uses dance to express life to its fullest and as a way to inspire people to feel the beauty of life, of Africa. Get ready to experience the true spirit of mother Africa with Jacky and her musicians.
Amara Kanté is a world renowned Master percussionist, Composer and Artistic Director. His repertoire of instruments include: Djembe drum, Dunun drums, Talking-drum, Bolon, Krin, Bara and Congas.
He is a Co-Founder of KOURABA, a Toronto based non-profit organization that promotes world music and dance traditions. He also Co-created the highly successful annual Kouraba World Music Festival (Toronto), an event that brings to Toronto the stories and performing arts talents of International Masters of World Music & Dance .
Recognized as a child prodigy and a professional percussionist by age 7, Amara has travelled the world and performed extensively. Festival credits include: WOMAD, Heritage Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, AfroFest, Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, Massa Festival, Sunfest World Music Festival and the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival. Amara has toured with celebrated troupes such as: Koteba D’Abidjan and Ballets Africains du Guinée.
As a prolific collaborator and composer, Amara’s unmistakable drumming power and signature sound can be heard on various recordings/soundtracks for film, album and live artistic presentations. His collaborations have included some of World Music’s greatest Icons: Peter Gabriel, François Moity, Big Sugar, Mory Kanté, Kassé Mady Diabaté and Judy Mowatt to name a few.
In 1998 Amara established KAWAFOLI school of Manding percussion in Marseille, France. He has been integral to the creation of several performance troupes such Benkan Foli (France), Wassa Foli (Trinidad) and Baro Dununba(Toronto). He has also filled the role of guest Artistic Director for the Muhtadi World Drummers (Toronto).
Now residing in Toronto, Mr. Kanté feels honored to be sharing his vast musical knowledge and talent mentoring youth, professional musicians and thrilling audiences of all ages. Of particular interest is his dedication to highlighting the positive contributions of Afro-Francophonie cultures, artists and peoples to the world.