By Ariadne Sawyer, MA, Afro news reporter.
From Mexico to Scotland and many places in between; an exciting young dance group of girls have delighted and entertained audiences in many places in British Columbia and in other countries. In the future, their dream is to perform in Africa.
Miyanda, (from an east African word meaning roots) is an empowered group of dancers and singers with stunning, colourful costumes and vibrant beats. The girls combine West African dances and drumming from different African countries and even Haiti. They compose their own pieces such as Acohumadj a stick rhythm song and dance that has become an international favorite. Under the direction of percussionists Fana Soro and Theo Vincent, the girls—aged 10 to 16 have been received with enthusiastic support wherever they go.
The last performance was in Scotland where they performed in Aberdeen at one of the biggest youth festivals with more than 22 countries participating. The dancers were pleased to represent Canada and their African heritage, showing the unity, tolerance, acceptance and fun that make up the strong spirit of the group.
The Miyanda dancers in Scotland included: dancer/drummers, Esther de Vos (16), Natasha Pheko (16), Aisha Harach (15), Kaly Soro (15), Darielle Goosen (16), Cyan Pheko (13), Soleil Richardson (13), Nadjema Soro (12) and Aisha McCarnan (10). They performed in Stonehenge and with a Celtic group at a town hall as well as joining all the other groups with a tribute to Bob Marley.
Miyanda is directed by Artistic Director Fana Soro and managed by Lisa Soro. A number of parents also accompany the girls on their trips. The parents are very supportive of what their daughters are doing. They are the real heroes, giving up their time to them.
Miyanda began in 2002 at the Masabo Music and dance studio in New Westminster, BC. The girls started performing pieces in the community and choose the name to represent their African base, representing Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Uganda, Lesotho, Haiti and the US.
Although none of the performers were born in Africa, they wanted to make a connection with Africa and their roots, sharing vital music and dances with others. One of the members, Esther de Vos is connected by her love for African music and dance.
The Artistic Director and master teacher Fana Soro says “When you show what is in your heart on stage and off, then I know I did a good job.”
Lisa Soro, the manager of Miyanda sent this quote from Scotland:
“As the mom-ager of the group, I would like to thank the girls and sing their names and praises to the world! Esther de Vos, Natasha Pheko, Darielle Goosen, Aisha Harach, Kaly Soro, Soleil Richardson, Cyan Pheko, Nadjema Soro, and Aisha (AJ) McCarnan. Former beloves Members: Mireille Loussouko, Shanille Okoth and Danae Goosen.
A big shout out to Tuedon Ariri, always a Miyanda girl at heart. I love you all and so do your fans!
On behalf of Miyanda, I would also like to thank Percussionist Theo Vincent for his big brother dedication over the years.”
These empowered young ladies show their warmth, love and community spirit to all. They are a wonderful group and a great example to others. I hope that many more groups will be inspired to begin or to continue on in such life enhancing programs. Through their community spirit, sisterhood and mentoring, they make a positive difference to the world.