Artist Spotlight: Yahaya Kamate

One of our most energetic Teaching Artists, Yahaya Kamate was born and raised in the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire – the Ivory Coast, a former French colony. He grew up speaking the tribal language of Malinke and also learned French in school. His father was a trader living in the city, but Mr. Yahaya would spend school breaks on a farm helping his uncle plant igname (yams), maïs (corn), and patate (sweet potatoes). “Sometimes when I was hungry,” Mr Yahaya remembers, “I caught squirrels and birds with a slingshot and cooked them over a wood fire for food. After my meal I would meet my friends and we would dance and tell stories under the moonlight.” 

In high school, Mr. Yahaya became a part of the National Ballet of Côte d’Ivoire where he toured Guinea, Mali, Burkina-Faso, Ghana and Liberia. When he was 25 he left his country to study, perform and teach dance and drums and he toured in France, Greece, and Holland. 

Since coming to the United States, Mr. Yahaya has been working as lead dancer and choreographer for dance companies in the United States, as well as teaching modern dance, ballet, African dance, and music.  

At the Institute, Mr. Yahaya teaches African Dance, African Drum and new this summer, African Music and Memories.

He has been with The Institute for eight years, bringing his easy nature, relatable style and absolute love of children to his teaching. And we are blessed to have him.

“If there is one teacher I know who could change your day for the better it is always Mr. Yahaya," says former student and current Youth Leader Amahl Adams, “He will lift your spirit up when it is at its lowest and will help you get through your day by giving his amazing energy and heart to anyone who needs it…I have been blessed to have had him throughout my years growing up at the Institute.”




Examples of Work

Performance at Fordham University

African Drum Residency at Weequahic High School (Newark)

Workshop, Concert and Learn at Bronx Art Ensemble

Online Workshop for New Jersey Performing Art Center