who are we?
At its core, Nimba is a meeting-of-the-minds of dancers, educators, activists and sustainable energy professionals. Spearheaded by Youssouf Koumbassa, one of the world's foremost teachers of Guinea-style African dance, Nimba was born of his desire to protect and promote Guinea's rich cultural heritage and artistic production while working to improve economic horizons and living conditions for the people of one of the poorest countries in the world. At the same time, we focus on energy solutions for people who, even in major cities, have limited access to electricity and are forced to live in the dark. Our dual platform of programming is based on our commitment to using both dance and renewable energy resources to promote healthy progress and self-sustaining communities throughout Guinea.
Youssouf Koumbassa is perhaps the world's most sought-after teacher of Guinea-style African dance. Born in Conakry, Guinea, Youssouf was a principle dancer with Ballets Djoliba, one of Guinea's most important national dance companies, for 13 years, training and touring extensively throughout the world. With his prodigious skill and thrilling talent, as well as the precious pedagogy and choreography of his teachers before him, Youssouf relocated to the United States to share his passion and his legacy with dancers and audiences everywhere. For the past 25 years, Youssouf has taught countless devoted students around the world the beauty and energy of Guinea dance. He teaches at conferences and workshops all over the world, from Mexico to Amsterdam, California to Japan, yet maintains his position at the center of his African dance community in New York City. Youssouf returns to Guinea every year to lead a month-long immersion workshop for international students in drum and dance. Youssouf lives in Brooklyn with his wife Mariama, a principle dancer from Les Ballets Africains, and his daughters, Khadijah, Fatim, Nadi, and Natalia.
Annie Friedensen is a dancer, teacher, and scholar living in Brooklyn, New York. With lifelong training in ballet and modern, Annie found her true passion in African dance. She earned her Master's degree in Africana Studies and Dance from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University and has undergraduate degrees in Dance and Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has presented her work at Tisch School of the Arts, Dance Across the Board and The Center for Creative Research, and she performs locally and nationally at venues including the Joyce SoHo and Denver Center for Performing Arts. Annie organizes Youssouf's Annual Dance & Drum Workshop in Guinea and dances with New York-based Afro-contemporary dance company VashtiDance Theater. Annie works as a dance fitness teacher and memoir editor in Brooklyn, and she can't wait to return to Guinea for its beautiful people, places, and pineapples.