Who are you writing this play for?

29 Aug 2021

An interview with Philip Akin, the former artistic director of Obsidian Theatre Company and accomplished stage, voice and film actor. We discuss his current directorial work on Alice Childress' play 'Trouble in Mind' at the Shaw Festival and the importance of laying the path for Black storytellers and theatre practitioners.

Philip Akin is the former Artistic Director of Toronto's Obsidian Theatre Company. The award-winning Canadian actor and theatre director has built an illustrious career of over 35 years on the stage, as a voice actor, on television and movies.

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TESSEL: Celebrating Black victories through dance

06 Jun 2021


Esie Mensah is a Dora-nominated choreographer, dance artist, educator, and public speaker. She's worked with megastars like Rihanna, Drake, French Montana and Arcade Fire. She recently conceptualized, wrote and directed a short film, TESSEL — which premiered earlier this week, on June 1, 2021 — and is currently streaming for free on tessel.film.

Tessel features the stories of 14 pioneering Black artists from across Canada, exploring the complexities of diverse movement and voice as a form of resilience.​ Providing a platform to share their personal stories, lived experiences, and truths, the film explores such themes as ritual, rage, exhaustion, self-care, rest, and futurism.

What began as a 7-hour discussion between 14 Black dance artists from across the country, has been beautifully distilled down into a spiritual calling, a tessellated journey through the cycles of healing.

“2020 was a year of exhaustion, frustration, weariness and rage for so many. It was a year where we were all forced to watch and absorb how horrific the circumstances have been and continue to be,” says Esie Mensah. “I wanted to challenge this global discourse on race. I wanted to create a new pathway that didn’t always focus on our traumas but highlighted our victories. I felt compelled to take action," she added.

The film project was co-commissioned by Fall for Dance North and Harbourfront Centre, through the additional support of national co-presenters.

Show notes

TESSEL premiered across Canada by leading dance presenters on the one-year anniversary of Blackout Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

Watch TESSEL online:

Length of Film: 12-15 minutes


Esie Mensah's official website:

Esie Mensa on social media:
Twitter: @EsieMensah
Instagram: @esiemensah

TEDxToronto: My skin was “too dark” for my profession, so I changed the story

Esie speaks about her TedXToronto talk to dearseekers.com

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Building a professional art space for Toronto's Black community

03 Apr 2021


Alica Hall is the Executive Director of the Nia Centre for the Arts — Canada's first multi-disciplinary professional arts space dedicated to showcasing art from the African diaspora. The Toronto-based not-for-profit community arts organization has, for its primary mission, to be a key destination for the Black community to bolster and showcase the full range of creative diasporic expression.

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Keeping arts & culture alive during the pandemic

22 Nov 2020


Born in Kingston, Jamaica and currently based in Ajax, Ontario, social entrepreneur Sanaaj Mirri is genuinely passionate about empowering youth through traditional African dance. She's the founder and director of the Afiwi Groove School, operating in the Durham Region. Founded in 2013, her non-profit's programs promote positive self-esteem, confidence, and an active lifestyle while educating and connecting participants to the African Diaspora's arts and culture.

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Dance for the people

05 Oct 2020

Broadway tap dance performer Lisa La Touche talks about her Fall for Dance North show, her Calgary roots and artistic journey in Chicago and New York, and tells us why her art form needs to be back in community centres.

Lisa La Touche has an inspiring story of being exposed to dance at a young age growing up in Alberta, Canada, and ending up as a professional dancer in Chicago and New York — with such highlights as performing live at the 70th Annual TONY Awards and appearing as a principal stage dancer on episode 6 of Amazon's Original TV series Z- The Beginning of Everything.

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From LEGOs to Legacy: Ekow Nimako envisions Africa’s bright future

01 Feb 2020


The AGA KHAN Museum presents Caravans of Gold Fragments in Time, from September 21, 2019 - February 23, 2020. The exhibit showcases pieces from around the continent, including Ekow Nimako’s Building Black Civilizations.

Caravans of Gold focuses on various collections to paint a compelling and expansive story about medieval sub-Saharan Africa.

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Finding agency through the lens

02 Oct 2019

An interview with Sandrine Colard — curator of The Way She Looks photography exhibition, organized by the Ryerson Image Centre. Colard is an art historian, writer and curator based in New York, United States, and Brussels, Belgium.

"The reading of being black is very different growing up in Europe — in contrast to my experience living in New York today; or when I travel to the Congo," said art curator and professor Sandrine Colard. She gave AfroToronto those insights during a recent discussion where we discussed her dual heritage. 

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Dwayne Morgan discusses the inaugural Toronto Spoken Soul Fest

11 Aug 2019

The inaugural 3-day Toronto Spoken Soul Fest is taking place from August 16-18, 2019 at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media and Education in Toronto. Created by the SpokenSoulTO Collective, comprised of multifaceted Toronto artists Dwayne Morgan, Paulina O'Kieffe-Anthony and Randelll Adjei, the festival aims to provide an annual platform for talented black poets, storytellers, musicians, and signers.

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Bringing Nuit Blanche to Scarborough

08 Jan 2019

Few people I've come across have mastered the art of the side hustle like Toronto-based creative director and art curator, Ashley McKenzie-Barnes. In fact, she's been so successful at simultaneously managing her established corporate career within Toronto's vibrant advertising agency world and her numerous passion projects — spanning well-known community initiatives such as The Remix Project, Manifesto and Honey Jam — that it's hard to see where the side hustle starts and ends.

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