Arts Commons Presents
Strawberries & Peaches: A Black History Month Cabaret
Curated by Lemba (Misha Maseka)
Curator and cabaret host Lemba (Misha Maseka) has gathered songs, stories and humour from an undeniable collection of local Black femme artists to refresh our palates and celebrate the complex grace that is Black femininity. Featuring performances by Dallas Hayes-Sparks, Natasha Korney, Sabrina Naz-Comanescu, Morountodun Okedara, Amanda Okafor, Ana Gabriela Maldonado, and Chenelle Roberts.
This high-demand series has entertained, challenged, energized, and inspired audiences with an evening of cabaret-style performances that highlight some of Calgary's brightest local talent.
*This event is best suited for people 14 years and older.
This event has passed, but on-demand viewing is still available until April 24, 2021. Register now to access the video.
Follow the hashtag #BHMCabaret on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates about this cabaret!
Meet the Artists:
Lemba (Misha Maseka) – Curator
Lemba is a writer, filmmaker, and musician. Born in eSwatini to Zambian parents but growing up in
South Africa, Australia and eventually Canada, she has observed many people and their stories. Studying opera in university gave her an appreciation and ability to access multiple types of vocal styles, which led her to one of her lines of work as a vocal coach (Lemba Studio).
As a true lover and doer of all forms of art, in the last few years, she has had the opportunity to write and direct for multiple film projects -- most recently being head writer of the much-anticipated TV series "The African Family". With that, her love and passion is to always tell and celebrate the small and unseen stories of humanity.
Chenelle Roberts – Performer (vocalist)
Chenelle Roberts is a prolific vocal performer throughout the Calgary area. She is an active member of Calgary’s vibrant musical community as a solo artist and collaborates with local bands, choral, and orchestral ensembles in the city. Chenelle currently holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Calgary studying under Dr. Patricia Hrynkiw. Often sought after for her solo performances, Chenelle displays versatility lending her voice to many different genres such as classical andsoul music. She has performed on some of Calgary’s largest festival stages including The Calgary Folk Festival, Calgary Stampede’s Coca-Cola Stage, Unison Festival, and Femmewave to name a few. When not performing, Chenelle is a practicing social worker in the field of addictions. She is currently working on the release of her debut EP with band Lost Decade.
Morountodun Okedara (Todun) – Performer
Morountodun is a Nigerian- Canadian graduate from the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts (2018). She is also a seasoned voice-over artiste as her creative endeavours include being a part of the Nigerian Radio show KO-KO-KA! by the United States Agency for International Development, and participating in the Christmas TV advertisement “Yellow Yellow Christmas” for one of Nigeria’s biggest Telecommunications company (MTN).
Along with majoring in Drama, she acted in the University of Calgary’s mainstage play titled; Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman, and staged her own play, “Que Sera Sera” which was produced by the Student run ND Theatre. She has also been a part of the True Crime Docu Series by Pyramid Productions here in Calgary, Alberta and will be playing the role of Chidi on the African Family Series coming Fall 2021.
Amanda Okafor – Performer
Amanda Okafor is a Calgary born dancer, choreographer, and spoken word artist. She has been a member of the African dance community since the age of 8 and has since been a driving force in sharing and introducing Afro dance styles to the greater community of Calgary. As a Writer, she has written and performed at several local spoken word events. Additionally, her poetry has been featured internationally and nationally, including the Toronto Fashion Week of 2018. Amanda's work, both as a dancer and spoken word artist has often been described as very energetic, vibrant, powerful, and moving – a direct representation of her favorite aspects of the African experience.
Dallas Hayes-Sparks – Performer
Dallas Hayes-Sparks is an opera singer, and teacher from Calgary, Alberta. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia majoring in opera performance and psychology. She is also an honours graduate of the Mount Royal Vocal Academy. Dallas has worked as a rostered singer with Cowtown Opera Company, and is currently a Calgary Opera Company Chorus member. Dallas also works at Calgary Opera as a Community Ambassador, where she is able to spread her love of music with the community. Dallas has been part of two performances at Carnegie Hall in her career. She has also had the privilege of singing for the wife of our previous Prime Minister, Laureen Harper at the Rheumatoid Arthritis Charity event in Ottawa. Dallas has enjoyed the opportunity to represent her community at Calgary’s Arts Commons’ Black History Month production, and has also received First Place standings across Southern Alberta Music festivals numerous times. Dallas’ most recent performances include chorus in Calgary Opera’s productions of Romeo et Juliette (Gounod), Everest (Joby), and Norma (Bellini), as well as Ida in Cowtown Opera’s adaptation of Die Fledermaus (Strauss), and the role of Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) with Vivace.
Sabrina Naz-Comanescu – Performer
Sabrina “Naz” Comanescu is a dynamic emerging talent and an energetic supporter of the Calgary dance and Caribbean Community through her work as a dance instructor, performer, and choreographer. Training in urban/funk and Afro-Caribbean dance styles since the age of six, Sabrina dove into her studies of jazz dance at the School of Decidedly Jazz in 2013, in DJD’s Professional Training Program. Sabrina is also the current major force behind The Diversity Performing Arts Club of Calgary and created Casa De Naz in 2012, a collective with a mission to “excite and educate art hubs across Canada about the thriving Caribbean community in Calgary and the arts of the Caribbean as a whole through film, fashion and dance”. Sabrina has performed in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, Trinidad and Tobago, Finland and New York City with such companies as House of Dangerkat, The Bad Girls Club YYC and ILLFX Entertainment.
Natasha Korney – Performer
Natasha began pursuing dance at the age of 13, specifically in the styles of Hip-Hop, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, African and Caribbean Dance. As part of her training she spent two years in Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ Professional Training Program where she choreographed and performed in the programs 1st annual show, Footprints in 2006 and again in 2007. In 2010, she commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Contemporary Dance Program at the University of Calgary performing in the annual show Mainstage, Why Dance 3D and other productions. Currently she is in her 8th season as a company dancer for Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.
Ana Gabriela Maldonado - Dancer
Ana began dancing at the age of 15 in Venezuala and after moving to Canada she began exploring afrobeat, dancehall, house and locking. Now, Ana performs as a part of a locking group as well as a Caribbean dance group here in Calgary. As part of Strawberries & Peaches she’ll be accompanying Amanda Okafor with an afrobeat dance.
Please do not hesitate to call our box office with any questions or concerns regarding ticketing or accessibility: 403-294-9494.
Arts Commons follows AHS guidelines and recommendations in all of our activities. This means that our performance dates and times are subject to change as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to evolving gathering restrictions, while balancing the elevation and presentation of our artists, along with the safety for our staff, artists, and patrons
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