Dorothy Wilkie Photo

Dorothy Wilkie began to study African dance as a child in 1955, first as an art form and later as an aspect of her spiritual practice as an orisha devotee and initiate. She joined Kulu Mele as a dancer in 1974 and later became the company’s dance captain. She has served as artistic director for more than 25 years. She has studied dance with Les Ballets Africains in Guinea, the National Dance Company of Senegal, and in Cuba and the United States. She has performed with Chuck Davis and Grupo de Danza Nueva Generacion and has choreographed for Lantern Theater Company and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as for Kulu Mele. In 2007, she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. In 2015, she and her husband, John Wilkie, received lifetime achievement awards from the Philadelphia Folklore Project for their contributions to arts and culture.

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John Wilkie began to study African and African Cuban dance traditions in the 1950s, first under the renowned percussionists William Powell and Charles Brown and later with Robert Crowder, Garvin Masseaux and Darryl Burgee. His drum studies have taken him to Guinea, Senegal and Cuba. He joined Kulu Mele in the 1970s. He has performed for the Jaasu Ballet and was an artist in residence at the Philadelphia Folklore Project. Currently he is a member of the Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra. In 2015, he and his wife, Dorothy Wilkie, received lifetime achievement awards from the Philadelphia Folklore Project for their contributions to arts and culture.

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David Harrison has more than 30 years of successful administrative experience in the literary, visual and performing arts. His dance background includes six years as executive director of New York-based Parsons Dance, where he produced dance for the international stage and for PBS television broadcast. Formerly a senior director at ASU Gammage, the arts presenting program at Arizona State University, Harrison was part of a four-university team that co-commissioned and presented the first U.S. national tour of Tanztheater Wuppertal–Pina Bausch. He currently serves on the boards of directors of Chen Dance Center in New York and at Philadelphia’s Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, and was a co-founder of Dance/NYC, a dance service organization.

Board of Directors

Andrea Ogundele Gosfield: Secretary


Donavan S. West


Dorothy Wilkie


Fasina Wilkie: President


Kevin L. Parks


Kia Holifield Wimmer: Vice President


Matthew Simon, M.D.

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Reginald Cooper: Treasurer


Crystal Gatling

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