About Franchesska Berry
Franchesska Berry is an eloquent performer, choreographer, and cultural arts educator. Her unique dance style integrates her comprehensive background in Western (ballet, modern, jazz), West African, Brazilian, Caribbean and Cuban Dance. Her list of performance credits includes Oakland’s Ceedo Senegalese Dance Ensemble; Nova-Ghost Sect Tect; Pharaoh Sanders; Youssou N’dour on his US Tour, Baaba Maal at Festival Sundiata and the Womad Music Festival, Oumou Sangare and Prince. She has studied, toured and performed with the National Ballet Du Senegal, and is considered an honorary member. Ms Berry has been acknowledged as a master dancer by DouDou N’diaye Rose and featured as a guest performer on his US tour. Ms Berry's Seattle career as a performer and an diversity cultural educator has been on an upward trajectory since her arrival in. She has been awarded grants and recognition from King County Special Arts Projects; Artist Trust Gap Grant. 2000-3 Broadway Center for the Performing Arts 'Foot to Footlights' Residency Program. She was accepted to the WA state Artist Roster for the 2003-6 seasons and the King County 4Culture Touring Artist Roster for the 2005-12 seasons. She received an Artist Support grant from Jack Straw Studio in '04 to produce a CD of traditional music with artist from Africa. The Boeing and State Farm Corporation's education/diversity program sponsored her and her ensemble in 2003-4. Five consecutive years Franchesska produced large-scale performance events that feature world-renowned master drummers and dancers. Franchesska's spectacular African and Diaspora Dance and drum shows are acknowledged as some of the cities most popular picks by the Seattle Weekly, and voted a Folklife Festival Best Bet by the Stranger, and the Post Intelligencer. Her choreography's commissioned for performance in 2005/6/7/10/11/12 by the 4Culture.org. Special Projects Grant.
Franchesska structured the down time for the US premiere of the National Senegalese Ballet's Tour visit to Seattle. She sponsored a traditional Senegalese gala reception and arranged their itineraries. Franchesska introduces the NBDS with personal narrative cross-cultural lectures at the University of Washington to introduce their performances. Franchesska and Som La Bi Joli were invited to perform at the Daniel Sorano theater in Dakar, and the Festival de San Louis, Senegal. Franchesska was nominated for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Grant for master folk/traditional artists; her endorsement was seconded by King County Executive, Ron Sims. She created and was featured as the African Angel in the Intiman Theater's 2004 production of the Langston Hughes masterpiece Black Nativity. She taught master classes and performed in the Tropical World Arts Carnival at the Tanks Art Center receiving standing ovations at the International Cairns Festival in Cairns, Australia in 2005. Franchesska graced the stage of Seattle's Town Hall recently as a guest dancer for their Internationale Drum and Music Showcase. She received recognition as a Washington State Arts Commission Folk Arts Master Artist where she shared her knowledge of the regional intersections between dance, language, clothing; spirituality and emphasized the role of musical and oral traditions.
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 ambassador of diverse cultural learning among any and all peoples who are captured by the dance.
Franchesska earned the distinguished honor of Fulbright Scholar to Cairo, Egypt at the prestigious Academy of Arts as teacher, lecturer, performer and choreographer for the Royal Ballet of Cairo the African and African-American dance she fashioned into a diverse cultural arts program – international in its reach and value.
Franchesska received a Storefronts Seattle Creative Enterprise Artist Residency to create new choreographies and to promote neighborhood vitality by bridging art and creative enterprise.
In 2011 & 12, Franchesska co-directed, co-choreographed in developing the original and new reprisal touring performance titled: Eleven Days in the Life of Dr. King, 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 Berry joins both artistically based and academic consultants including Dr. Dexter Gordon, Communication Professor and Professor of African American Studies from The University of Puget Sound.
Franchesska's six choreography's affiliated with the events that include parallel 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 enable 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 reach 30,000 youth in a six to eight week touring period and includes an in depth study guide to invite classrooms to re-examine the breadth and depth of Dr. Kings' legacy, message and to invite a deeper exploration of several movements that assert power to prompt fundamental institutional change.