Assistant Director, Principal Dancer

Omowale Orisayomi holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from Spelman College. She studied Ghanaian dance under Kobla and Dzizobe Ledzekpo.

While continuing her study of Ghanaian dance in the African Ensemble class at the California Institute for the Arts, Omowale met Francis Awe. There, Francis began coaching her in the Yoruba dance style.

Omowale has been principal dancer and assistant director of The Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble since its inception in 1985. She instructs and choreographs for the Ensemble's adult and youth corps.

For Omowale, dance is not just an art form. Whether it is the mystical dance for Obatala (the god of peace and purity); the passionate beauty of the dance of Sango (the god of thunder); or the social dance of Sabada in praise of the God within each of us; Omowale considers dance a medium for healing the mind, body, soul and spirit of all people.

She also feels the art form has a unifying effect. "We have all people represented in our Ensemble: African Americans, Anglos, Asians, Latinos," she points out. "The Ensemble is one global family. If we can get this family together in complete harmony, then maybe global unity is possible."

Omowale is life partner to Francis Awe. The husband and wife have two children and live in Los Angeles, where they continue to educate and entertain audiences of all ages about Nigerian traditions and culture through their music, song and dance.

The Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble was founded in 1985 by Master Talking Drummer Francis Awe in response to a growing international interest in the unique art form of the Talking Drum ("Dundun"). For further information, call (323) 294-7445.