About Franchesska Berry
Linkedin: linkedin.com/In/Franchesska Berry Website: www:thefeminineessence.com
Cultural Program Manager | International Arts Educator | Events Producer
Award-winning choreographer, educator and cultural award developer with 20 + years of experience producing and managing intercultural programming for government, arts, and non-profit organizations
Franchesska Berry is an eloquent performer, choreographer, and international intercultural arts, educator. Franchesska specializes in dances and traditional culture of West Africa and the African Diaspora; however, her expertise is not limited to African based forms. Franchesska's unique dance style is heavily accentuated by her comprehensive background in the western classical forms of ballet, modern, jazz, and improvisational dance. Franchesska does not segregate dance and feels all movement stems from the same wellspring of human expression, dialects of the same language. Franchesska developed her professorial expertise as an academic leader in international intercultural art education, termed the Relational Model of Education. Pedagogy firmly rooted in the philosophical anthropology of African and African-American dance and cultural history. Franchesska attempts to know the possibility of enlightenment, appreciation, and healing from original African cultures, lost, forgotten, distorted, and denied through the arts.
It's Franchesska's continued artistic quest to gather together and crystallize experiences residing in Africa, Australia, and Egypt: to put on an even firmer and more refined footing her experience as a relational, international intercultural educator, and performing artiste' who grasps the essential value of putting the imagination and insight at the center of art which lives, breathes and draws us in.
Academic Achievements in Excellence:
Franchesska earned the Distinguished Honor of Fulbright Fellow/Scholar to Cairo, Egypt at the prestigious Academy of Arts as artiste, choreographer for the Royal Ballet of Cairo and as a professor, performer, and lecturer of “Dance and The Relationship Model For A Multicultural Classroom” at the American University of Cairo, the American/African-American critical pedagogy she fashioned into an intercultural arts program – international in its reach and value.
Antioch University, Seattle, WA
Masters in Education & Social Sciences, June 2008
Thesis: The Philosophical Aspects of Cultural Differences
Graduated Summa Cum Laud e with Distinguished Mention and Performance
The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
BA in Liberal Arts, Education, June 2004
Thesis: Leadership Sustainability through Arts in Education
International Resident Scholar/Teaching Residencies
Acadmeyet Du Arts of Cairo, Egypt 2009
American University Cairo 2009
University Cairo Egypt 2009
Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar 2007-8
Awarded the status of distinguished leader in The Necessities of Higher Academia & Education in African Universities by the Dean of the University of Dakar.
Provided personal narrative cross-cultural lectures to introduce the National Ballet Du Senegal performances at the University of Washington.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia 2005
Grant and Award Funded Projects and Choreographies
Seattle Office of Arts & Cultures “smArt Ventures” Grant Recipient 2017 & 19
City of Seattle Parks & Recreation's “Get Moving” Grant Recipient 2017-18
Seattle Office of Arts & Cultures “Put the Arts in Park” Grant Recipient 2016-18-19
Co-Director/ Choreographer of the Reprisal in 2011-13 of Days in the Life of Dr. King’ Broadway Center for the Performing Arts’
4Culture Special Projects Grants for New Works 2005-08 & 11-13
King County 4Culture Touring Artist Roster for 2005-20 seasons.
Full Artist Support grant from Jack Straw Studio in ’04 to produce a CD of traditional African Music
Washington State Artist Roster for the 2003-5 seasons
Broadway Center for the Performing Arts Residency Program 2001-04
King County Cultural Education Grant, 1999, 2000-03
Artist Trust Emerging Artist 2000
King County Special Arts Projects, 1998-9/2001
Artist Trust GAP Grant, 1998
Cultural Bridging & Achievements: In 2015, Franchesska was accepted to the Creative Advantage Community Roster for Teaching Residencies for its 2015-22 seasons. Franchesska was initiated due to her major accomplishments and in Seattle and the larger King County schools since her arrival in 1996. She has instructed thousands possessing the rare ability to engage students from every social, class, and diverse backgrounds of all ages; cooperation, love, kindness, self-esteem, and care through dance and cultural sensitivity. As well, her personal artistic achievements on stage in the U.S. in Senegal, Australia, and in Egypt placed her ahead of the curve in this highly selective process.
21st Century Storytelling In 2015, Franchesska was chosen for The Seattle Public Library's 2015 Summer Learning Program STEAM program. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Mathematics. Franchesska's culturally based proposal “Bridging Communities through “The Stories that Bind Us” is deeply based within Philosophical Anthropology and the Social Sciences. International participants (Ethiopian and Somali) were taught the importance of building a family narrative sharing of family heritage, history, and the importance of the continuation of tradition.
In 2015, The Everett College's Student LIFE Programs Board & Black Student Union celebrated in the presentation of a Black Legacy Month Event: The Very Franchesska Berry: Living the Legacy.
The Black Student Union honored Franchesska's achievements as a distinguished scholar, cultural theorist, gifted artiste and ambassadress to Senegal, West Africa. Franchesska's performances are compacted with audiovisual and interactive lectures on cultural aspects and critical pedagogy on the first and second middle passages and historical civil rights events of the past. Concluded with a motivational conversation and a silhouetted African dance performance.
In 2015, The Boeing Black Employee Association celebrated in presenting: Black History "In Motion" with Franchesska Berry. The program was created to celebrate Boeing's Diverse workforce and each employee's unique contributions to Boeing. Franchesska utilized her Griotess skill sets as storyteller and conduit sharing the "Greatness of African American Dance" and the importance of "Symbolic Imagery" for African American peoples. Closing with a motivational conversation and a silhouetted African dance performance.
Professional Development for Teachers in Arts Integration
In 2015, Franchesska led an active, experiential, reflective, and collaborative Arts Integration program for the Puyallup School Distric Culture & Art classes.
In 2011-14, Franchesska co-directed co-choreographed in developing the original and new reprisal touring performance titled: Eleven Days in the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a twelve movement work that marries choreography with spoken word based on deeper research and visits both critical moments and a deeper contextualization of King's work.
Franchesska’s six choreography's affiliated with events that include parallelling a re-examination of King's letter from a Birmingham Jail in light of current race and privilege realities, as well as other historical moments including the impact and sacrifices of the freedom riders, Dr. King's Nobel Prize speech and other less examined aspects of Dr. King's life, works and the many communities that enabled Dr. King at the nascence of civil rights, power and the rise of race consciousness call to assert power and love as a tactic to establish change. Franchesska's work in collaboration with Dr. Gordon, and led by playwright Lucas Smiraldo has reached 30,000 youth in a six to eight-week touring period.
In 2011, Franchesska Berry co-directed, co-choreographed in developing the Broadway Center Conservatory productions of the Jungle Book.
In 2008-10, Franchesska received recognition as a Washington State Arts Commission Folk Arts Master Artist in African Dance where she shared her knowledge of the regional intersections between dance, language, clothing; spirituality and emphasized the role of musical and oral traditions of West Africa.
In 2007 - present, Franchesska was awarded diplomatic recognition as a Cultural Ambassadress to Senegal from the Minister du la Culture, Mdme. Birame Diouf. This recognition is an embodiment of both the spirit and the significance of Franchesska's educational and cultural mission as a global ambassadress of international intercultural learning among any and all peoples who are captured by the dance.
2003-09, Franchesska Berry and Som La Bi Joli Ensemble produced and choreographed Keur Fouta Dance and Drum Annual Spectaculars featuring world-renowned African master drummers and dancers.
In 2003, The Boeing Corporation’s education/diversity program sponsored Franchesska and her ensemble to tour their facilities, teach and perform for their employees and their families.
Professional Development for Teachers in Arts Integration
1998-2005, Franchesska led The Tacoma Arts Impact Summer Institute program training elementary classroom teachers to independently teach visual and performing arts. Teachers participate in Intensive, hands-on, 30-hour training in foundational arts concepts and skills in visual art, dance, and theater. Teachers paired with Franchesska for a 9-10 hour mentorship during the school year. She assisted teachers in planning, writing, teaching, and assessing arts lessons.
Selected Professional Dance Performance and Choreography
Som La Bi Joli (Sweeter than Sweet) Dance Ensemble (Artistic Director) 1997-2009,
Franchesska & Ensemble Featured at Seattle International Folklife Festival 2002-5,
Full-Length Senegalese Traditional Dance and Music Spectaculars at Seattle Art Museum, Paramount Theater Tacoma, Carco Theater 2000-07; The Otunaba African Dance Company 1994-6; The Raymond Johnson Dance Company 1993; Ballet Sangomar 1992-4; The California Arts Project 1992-4; Ko-Thi Dance Company 1991-3
Hugh Masekela & Third World 1993; Ceedo Senegalese Dance Company 1990-4; Diamono Coura Dance Company 1991; Imhotep Ensemble 1989-93; The Ethnic Dance Festival 1991-2; “The Africans Are Coming”1991-3, Nelson Mandela Tour 1991.
Solo & Principal Roles
Tropical World Arts Carnival, International Cairns Festival; 2005, Australia
Created and featured as the African Angel in the Intiman Theater’s 2004 production of the Langston Hughes masterpiece ‘Black Nativity’
Berkeley Jazz Festival 94-5; The Henry J. Tanner Exhibit 94; Marin Jazz Festival 93-4; Pharaoh Sanders 1993-4; African Roots of Jazz 1993; Koncept’s Cultural Arts Gallery 92-3; The Nova –Ghost Sect Tect 1990-5.
Ballard High School 2012; Town Hall Drumming 2011; Oumou Sangare 2002-4; National Ballet du Senegal 1999-2005; Youssou N’Dour 1993 to 2009; Baaba Maal 1991 to 2004, Prince 1990
Residencies & Conferences
DouDou N’Diaye Rose 2000 & 9; Alvin Ailey Dance Company 93-5
Abdoulaye Camara 89-2003; Dance Theatre of Harlem 1993-5;
Muntu Dance Theatre 1992; Les Ballet Africans 87-91; Dimension Dance Theater 86-93; Les Ballet Africans 87-91; Fatala 87-91; Les Ballet Africans 87-91; Kankouran Dance Company 1989-11; Maimounta Keita School of African Dance 1989 to present; Katherine Dunham 1987-94; Donald McKayle 1986-91.
Dance Training (with respective instructors):
Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Betho Filho; Xiomara Rodriquez 1999-2005;
Jean-Leon Destiny 1989-96; Afro-Cuban, Judith 1989-96; Haitian
Lynn Coles 1987-89; Afro-Haitian Ronnie Marshall 1986-93; Linda Goodrich 1983-87; Modern jazz, Leon Jackson 1983-86; Contemporary modern jazz dance, Ehud & Nurit Krauss, 1974-77; Interpretive Modern and Jazz; Sheila Nelson, Ballet & jazz Berle Davis, 1974-76; Ailey Technique, jazz, modern blues 1968-72;
Selected Teaching Experience:
Camas Prairie Elementary 2012; Cedar Crest Elementary 2012;
Cougar Mountain Junior High 2012; The Tacoma Arts Year Program 2012
Tukwila Community Center 2010 – present; Powerful Schools Program 2011 – present
Evergreen Elementary 2011; Rock Ridge Elementary 2011; Spanaway Junior High 2011
Waller Road Elementary 2010; Jenny Reed Elementary School 2010
The Evergreen High School 2006; Lakewood Elementary School 2005
Langston Hughes Center for the Performing Arts 2005;
Mountain Meadow Elementary School 3rd-4th grade 2005; Tillacum Elementary 2004
Jason Lee Middle School 2004; Tacoma School of the Arts 9-12th grade, 2002
Grant, Evergreen, and Bethel Elementary Schools 2001-2
Tillicum Middle School, 7th and 8th grade 2001-3
African American Christian Academy K-6, 2001-4
Vitality Pilates Studio (Adult Classes) 2000-2005
Spanaway Junior, 6th, 7th & 8th grade 1999-2002
Miller Community Center Adult Classes 1998-2001
Adult Classes Tri-Weekly (Mount Baker) 1998-2000
Dimmit Middle School 1998-2000
Black River Middle School, 1998-1999
Madison, Denny and Aki Kurose Middle Schools with Planned Parenthood’s Checkpoint
Program, 7th and 8th grade, 1997-2000
Leschi Elementary 1996-98
Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center (children and adults) 1996 & 2007
Selected Teaching Experience:
The East Bay Asian Youth Assn. (UC Berkeley) 1996
San Leandro Elementary 1992
John Muir Elementary 1990
Henry J. Kaiser Elementary 1989
Piedmont Middle School 1989
The Synergy School 1988-89
Theatrical & Television Performances
TV One’s Unsung Hollywood’s What’s Happening, 2014
Created and featured as the African Angel in the Intiman Theater’s 2004 production of the Langston Hughes masterpiece ‘Black Nativity’; 2005
Artist Trust Emerging Artist; 2002
Ceremonies in Old Dark Men; 1993
What’s Happening; 1978-80
In Concert; 1976-77
Soul Train; 1974-80