Teresia Awe (Omowale Orisayomi)


Music of West Africa Ensemble








Teresia Awe (Omowale Orisayomi) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spelman College. She studied Ghanaian dance under Kobla and Dzidzorgbe Ladzekpo and Yoruba (Nigerian) dance under Francis Awe at the California Institute for the Arts.

Omowale has been principal dancer and assistant director of The Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble since its inception in 1985. The Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble was founded by master talking drummer Francis Awe in response to a growing international interest in the unique art form of the talking drum ("dundun"). Omowale 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 orisha of peace and purity in the Yoruba religion); the passionate beauty of the dance of Shango (the orisha of thunder); or the social dance of Sabada in praise of the spirit within each of us, Omowale considers dance a medium for healing the mind, body, soul and spirit of all people.

Omowale feels that music and dance have 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 reside in Los Angeles, where they educate and entertain audiences of all ages about Nigerian traditions and culture through music, song and dance.