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Ko-Thi Dance Company celebrates 55 years of impacting the Milwaukee community

Ko-Thi Dance Company
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Ko-Thi Dance Company

Ko-Thi Dance Company is celebrating 55 years in Milwaukee. The company, founded by Ferne Caulker in 1969, performs and teaches dance and music created by Africans and the African diaspora.

"Having been born [in Ghana] and then moving here to the United States, that's when the revelation came for me to start a dance group to see if I could become a connector between the African arts and aesthetics in the continent and African Americans over here," Caulker explains.

The name "Ko-THi " comes from Caulker's father's language and the Sherbro people in Sierra Leone. It means to "go black," as in a color. "But I wanted it to refer to Black culture, whatever that is in the diaspora. So, from the very beginning, when I created the company, I've always thought of it as growing into being this accessible place where people could touch the African continent through the aesthetics of the African continent," Caulker says.

Over the last five decades, Ko-thi has impacted the lives of over a million children in Milwaukee. For Caulker, the students are just part of the story. "So, I feel that Ko-Thi is not just about teaching children and teaching the community and having classes and exposing all children, all races, all ages and humans. But it's about affecting not only the person in the class but who they affect when they leave the class, or they come back into the class."

The Ko-Thi Dance Company is holding a fundraiser at Panera in Glendale on Feb. 21 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Ko-Thi is also having a concert called Under the Baobab Tree at Pius High School on Apr. 6 at 7:30 p.m.


Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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