Casimiro Nhussi

Artistic Director & Choreographer
Casimiro Nhussi is a professional African dancer, choreographer, dance instructor and musician based in Winnipeg. Born in Mozambique, Africa, he has been a dance professional since 1982, training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre in New York. Starting his career as dancer, Casimiro became the principal dancer, and then the Artistic Director of the Mozambique National Song and Dance Company. Currently Casimiro is the Artistic Director and Founder of Winnipeg’s only African contemporary dance company; NAfro Dance Productions where he has produced and choreographed over 20 dance works.
Casimiro has also worked as a dance instructor and choreographer for many local, national and international organizations and groups. He has performed and led African dance workshops in over 30 countries worldwide.
Casimiro is also an accomplished musician who has been nominated for the Western Canadian Music Awards 3 times; “Makonde” (2010), “Gweka”(2013) and Ximbombo”(2017).

Maritel Centurion

Choreographer
Argentinean born Maritel Centurion is a professional dancer and dance educator with extensive experience in classical ballet, flamenco, escuela bolera and classical Spanish.
A graduate from Canada’s National Ballet School Teachers Training Program, Centurion also studied flamenco at the Centro de Baile in Jerez and at Amor de Dios center in Madrid. She is also a member of the International Spanish Dance Society and the recipient of the Spanish Dance Society Certificate of Excellence in 2021.
Most of her choreographic work has been student-centered as she has taught at several recognized Professional Training Programs. She currently teaches Danza Española at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Aspirant Program. She also enjoys her fifth year leading her independent flamenco dance program with adults and youth (Colors of Flamenco - Dance Intersections). Maritel is delighted to work with Artistic Director Casimiro Nhussi and his dancers for the creation of this NAfro production.

Nicole Coppens

Dancer
Nicole Coppens is enjoying another season with NAfro Dance Productions, having recently performed in NAfro's “Matope”. Through the vision and guidance of Artistic Director Casimiro Nhussi, Nicole has learned how to dance on stilts, work with silks, dance in dirt on uneven ground, all the while exploring and deepening her understanding and appreciation for Contemporary and African movement. With the company, Nicole has performed creative and varied work by Paula Blair, Charmaine Headley, BaKari E. Lindsay, Zab Maboungou, Michele Moss, Kevin Ormsby, Patrick Parsons, Lulu Sale and Roger Sinha. She has also had the pleasure to work closely with independent choreographer Paula Blair in many of her full-length shows. Nicole is a graduate of the Professional Program of the School of Contemporary Dancers and through its affiliation with the University of Winnipeg has completed her Bachelor of Arts degree (Honours) in Dance. Nicole also loves teaching within the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.

Hélène Le Moullec Mancini

Dancer
Since graduating from the School of Contemporary Dancers with a B.A Honours in Dance in 2005, Hélène has worked as a dance artist in Winnipeg and in works by guest choreographers from all around the world. Select credits: 17 seasons with NAfro Dance Productions (Artistic Director, Casimiro Nhussi), six seasons and over 50 performances under the direction of Jolene Bailie at Gearshifting Performance Works (2013-2019, performing in works by Bailie, Rachel Browne, and Marie-Josee Chartier), numerous productions with Paula Blair, and work with Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, Stephanie Ballard and Brent Lott. Hélène has toured to Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and China performing at galleries and festivals. She is also the Artistic Manager for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Jessica Oliphant

Dancer
Jessica Oliphant is a graduate of the School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program. While in the program she had the opportunity to work with many noteworthy choreographers. A highlight from her time in the program was performing in Tedd Robinson's 60 dancer project at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, for the Canada Dance Festival. She also enjoyed the many opportunities she had Landscape Dancing, and performing in “A Christmas Carol” with Stephanie Ballard. In her final year of the program she had the opportunity of dancing in "Pudya” with NAfro Dance Productions for the first time. Since then, she has had the privilege of dancing in The Rhythm, Milandy, Mapiko, the Moving Inspirations Festival, YOFANANA, Return of the Dead, the Image and La Borona

Julious Gambalan

Dancer
Julious Gambalan is a graduate of The School of Contemporary Dancers Professional Program in 2020. He has worked in many dance projects within Winnipeg, including Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers with Jolene Bailie. Julious also had the opportunity to tour within Canada: at the Stream of Dance Festival 2019 in Regina, Saskatchewan and the New Blue Festival 2018 in Toronto, Ontario. He has also danced internationally in Vienna, Austria in 2020 with Christina Medina. He has worked with many choreographers such as Gaile Petursson-Hiley, Paula Blair, Odette Heyn, Jera Wolfe, Constance Cooke, Harold Rhéaume, Davida Monk, and Marc Boivin, just to name a few. He has worked with Casimiro Nhussi in past NAfro shows such as The Image, La Borona and Matope. Julious is very excited to work with NAfro Dance Productions again and is honored to work in this collaboration with Casimiro Nhussi and Maritel Centurion in “Call to Earth”.

Reymark Capacete

Student Dancer
Reymark Capacete is currently studying in his fourth year at The School of Contemporary Dancers. At a very young age, he has developed his dancing through watching Hip-Hop YouTube videos. Through high school, he found his love for dance working with Melanie Athayde and Jacqueline Garner, which led him to The School of Contemporary Dancers. Throughout his years of studies within the school, he’s worked with wonderful choreographers such as Gaile Petursson-Hiley, Kathleen Hiley, Robyn Thomson-Kacki, Jera Wolfe, Constance Cooke, Odette Heyn, Marc Boivin, Harold Rhéaume, Sasha Ivanochko, Christina Medina, Paula Blair and Casimiro Nhussi. This is his fourth time performing with NAfro Dance Production, in which he’s developed many other styles of dance. This has helped him grow more as an emerging artist. He is also excited to learn flamenco from Maritel Centurion and to perform in this collaboration of “Call to Earth”.

Dave Brown

Musician
In the ‘80s Dave Brown toured and recorded with popular ska, reggae and punk rock band the Dub Rifles. He has recorded with the Nils, JFK and the Conspirators, Pipe Dream and Wendy Isaac. As well as playing saxes and flute with NAfro Dance band Dave is a member of Rebel Force reggae band.

Roger Cloutier

Musician
Roger Cloutier has traveled across Canada playing in a variety of venues, and festivals as a guitar player, singer, and saxophone player. He played in the Million Civillians band for 2 decades.during the 80's and 90's. More recently he has played in the University of Winnipeg Downtown Jazz Band, Local Vocal, and teaches sax at MarSchells Music.

Tim Church

Musician
Tim Church is a composer and musician who is fascinated by the connection between music and dance. Working with choreographers, dancers, and dance teachers over the years has enriched the way he thinks about music. He is grateful for the interesting and fun path that music has taken him on. In 2002 he began studying African percussion and suddenly a whole world of opportunities opened up, including playing at concerts and festivals, recordings, and commissions to compose scores for contemporary dance. He is grateful to be part of the NAfro Dance family.

Amara Condé

Musician
Amara Condé is a musician, dancer and acrobat born in Coyah, Guinea. He began circus training in 2008 with the Guinean troupe Benka Fissa where he studied, among other things, tumbling and breakdancing. Amara then joined Carvalia’s Odysseo where he toured around the world, including performing in Winnipeg in 2015 and 2018. In 2019 Amara joined the group Guinee Best where he helped create an original show called Lever du Soleil.

Nick Kolisnyk

Musician
A lifelong musician, Nick’s studied African Drumming in Winnipeg, Victoria, Gatineau and Chicago and is a Djembe repair specialist. He’s a founding member of West African drumming group Chango.
A multi-instrumentalist, Nick’s work with Casimiro Nhussi included contributing to the Western Canada Music Award- nominated albums “Gweka” and “Ximbombo”, adding fiery horns and layers of percussion.
Nick has been given the opportunity to work with Attic Revival, Batuque Percussion, Rupertsland Brass Band, the Exile Brass Band, the CMU Jazz Band, St Benedict’s Table, and Riverwood Church.

Kelly Leveille

Musician
Kelly Leveille is an exciting musician with a unique ability to tastefully fuse vast cultural styles into a seamless creative blend. In his 30 years of performing he has contributed his creativity to African, Vietnamese, Israeli, French-Canadian & Latin cultural groups. Every performance is fresh & every lick delivered with deepest respect for the groove

Mpho Mambira

Musician
Mpho Mambira is a founding member of Bongo Love, an Afrocoustics band that plays music rooted in the instruments, songs and musical traditions of their homeland. Originally from Zimbabwe, Mpho has toured extensively throughout Africa, Europe, the United States and Canada and now makes his home in Winnipeg.

Damon Rondeau

Musician
Damon Rondeau has been a Winnipeg bassist for over 40 years. Playing in bands like Six Man Sedan, Million Civilians, The Kingmixers, The Clearwater Boys and Starlight Jazz, Damon has played punk rock, pop rock, R&B, funk, latin, country, bluegrass and small trio jazz. Playing African music in the NAFRO band with friends old and new is a connecting experience that feels a bit like visiting home.

Jay Stoller

Musician
Jay Stoller has been playing percussion since 1984 and specializes in West African music. Living in Ghana for 4 years has provided Jay with a unique insight into both the music and culture of that country. He holds a diploma in African music from the University of Ghana. In Winnipeg, Jay is a sought after performer and educator. He has brought the excitement of African drumming to 1000's of school children throughout Manitoba as well as to the corporate world via the team building programs of the Drum Cafe. Jay is proud to be an original member of NAfro. He has released five of his own CD's for dancers and drum students, and shares his passion for Africa with those that join his annual cultural tours to Ghana.

George Bajer-Koulack

Guest Artist
George Bajer-Koulack has a bachelor of music degree where he studied classical singing and has sung with local choirs such as Camerata Nova and Cantucum Novum. He started to play guitar the summer of 2014 right before starting his degree and took a year off to live in Spain and study flamenco guitar. His first love, however, was for percussion and he still spends some time in the rhythm section backing bands and choirs. Nowadays by day George works at the Misericordia hospital singing old country and Western songs for the seniors who live there; and by night he performs solo flamenco guitar around town in places like Inferno's and the Fort Garry Hotel.

Onna Lou

Guest Artist
Onna Lou is a singer and a songwriter born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her sweet yet powerful voice has captivated listeners in genres like flamenco, Latin American folk, tango, jazz, pop and rock.
She majored in Classical Composition at Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires in 2012. She then moved to Boston and majored with honors in Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music.
She has studied and worked with multiple Latin Grammy winners such as Javier Limon, and Alejandro Sanz which led to her participation in the 2013 Latin Grammy show. She also performed in New York as a guest of acclaimed Spanish artist Rosana.
Since she moved to Winnipeg in 2016, she has received the support of the Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
“Ahora” , her first album was released in 2015.
Her second album “Diamante” is in production and she has started composing her third album.

Gabriel Cropley

Lighting Design
Gabriel Cropley is a Toronto based lighting designer and three-time Dora Mavor Moore award nominee.

Recent credits include inTOfocus for Dance: Made in Canada/Fait au Canada, Eating bones and Licking bread for Dancemakers, Undauntedfor RAW Taiko Drummers, Confluence 2 for BoucharDanse & lbs/sq”, and Million Dollar Quartet for Capitol Theatre Port Hope.

Gabriel has had the privilege of collaborating with Alias Dance Projects, Ballet Creole, Coal Mine Theatre, TOES for Dance, Julia Sasso Dances, CanAsian Dance, dreamwalker dance, Little Pear Garden Dance Company, Toronto Heritage Dance, Newton Moraes Dance Theatre, York Dance Ensemble, Danny Grossman, Sook-Yin Lee, Ontario School of Ballet, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Sampradaya Dance Creations, Hamilton Children’s Choir, Forcier StageWorks, Ritmo Flamenco, Toronto Dance Theatre, Art of Time Ensemble, and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre.

Carla Oliphant

Costume Design
Carla Oliphant grew up in a very creative household. Her mother started teaching her to sew at the age of five. Carla graduated from the U of M with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1985. Since then she has created costumes for countless theatre groups, choirs as well as individuals: The Little Opera Company and The Tara Players just to name a few. Her costume collection is kept with Ragpickers and has been accessed by many individuals. This is Carla’s fifth production with NAfro having created the costumes for “Milandy”, “Yofanana”, and “The Image”.
‘Working with NAfro on this production has truly been exciting. It has been a privilege to work with such a wonderful, talented group of people again.’ - CO