Cause. Culture. Community.

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Our mission is sharing culture and building community through Traditional West African Drum and Dance.

Sharing in their love of African Drum and Dance, four friends - Karen Phelps, Narayana Hall,

Dr. Tinka Barnes, and Cheick Sissoko – came together to make the dream of CADDC a reality on September 19, 2022. As a tax exempt nonprofit organization, CADDC offers West African drum and dance classes for children, adults, and seniors in Charlotte and surrounding areas.

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Our Founders

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Karen Phelps, Esq. has always been a dancer at heart and got her first introduction to traditional dance in 2003 studying Afro-Brazilian dance while a college exchange student in Santiago, Chile. Karen moved to Charlotte, NC after graduating law school and her passion for dance led her to professional Salsa classes, where she learned to dance Salsa “On 2” and traveled the country attending workshops with professional instructors when she was not out enjoying local Salsa socials.

A fellow salsera introduced Karen to Traditional West African Dance classes (hosted by Shae Movement African Arts) and the rest was history. Her love with Traditional African Dance was instant and in 2015 she was invited to perform with Shae Movement African Arts Dance Company. In 2017, she met Cheick Sissoko from whom she learned to play traditional drums and she extended her drumming and dance experience into performances with Cheick Sissoko and Dr. Tinka Barnes for various Charlotte events.

Dr. Tinka Barnes began her West African dance training in 1999 while in medical school at the University of Kansas medical school in Kansas City, KS, during which time she became a principal dancer with the Traditional Music Society and Soundz of Africa under the artistic direction of master percussionist Bird Fleming. Artist in Residence

Baba Danny Diallo Hinds of Sundance Production groomed her dancing skills using the dance forms of Blkdance-Tek, West Afrikan, and Afro-Caribbean and while in Kansas City, she also danced with Grupo Axe presenting Samba.

While completing her medical residency in New Orleans, she toured with Zulu Connection (founded by Naimah Zulu and Shaka Zulu master stilt dancer), and also had the unique opportunity to study dance from Papa Abdoulaye Camara of Senegal.

With her award-winning author husband, Derrick Barnes, and their four sons Dr. Barnes relocated to Charlotte, NC where she performed with Shae Movement dance company and was a principal dancer with YAPRE Puerto Rican folkloric dance performing Bomba, Rumba, and Plena. Tinka is passionate about the importance of “movement as medicine” as well as introducing the youth to the expression of cultural arts through West African Dance and dances of the diaspora. These passions have led her to establish CADDC’s children’s dance classes to do her part to help develop the next generation of West African dancers in the Queen City.

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Narayana “Nara” Hall’s mother, Sylvia Soumah, co-owned and taught West African dance and drumming at Kono Youth Ensemble and later at Coyaba Dance Theater, in Washington, DC where, in addition to learning traditional West African Dance, Nara learned to drum many different styles of African drumming, including Congas, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Haitian drumming. He began teaching by the time he was 14 years old.

Nara is now an internationally-recognized percussionist, instructor, and performer. His repertoire spans traditional African (East, West, and South), Afro-Cuban, Afro- Haitian, East Indian, and Native American music. In addition to studying across the United States, Nara also studied drumming and dance styles in Guinea, Jamaica, Iraq, Senegal and South Korea with master musicians from all over the world including (but not limited to) Amadou Kouyate, Djimo Kouyate, Mahiri Fadjimba Keita-Edwards, Kevin Aziz White, Malori Moore, Dramane Kone, Assane Konte and Grammy-Award winning artist Magette Fall. Nara has accumulated film credits for his participation in projects such as Black Panther 1, and Coming to America 2. Nara’s most prized achievement, however, was performing for Michael Jackson at the Ethiopian Embassy. Nara currently resides in Charlotte, NC and regularly plays at local venues and festivals, as well as, performing for private events.

Cheick Sissoko was born in the Ivory Coast, West Africa and grew up in a family of musicians and dancers. He started his artistic career on live television in Ivory Coast and once in New York City, he became a drum and dance teacher for Djoniba Dance and Drum Center and Broadway Dance Center. Cheick performed with members of Cirque du Soleil at the Manhattan Civic Center; was a was a guest artist at the Kennedy Center Spirit of Kwanzaa event; was a drum and dance instructor at the Manhattan Civic Center, the Lincoln Center, and the Natural Museum of History; and was a dance and drum instructor at a number of NYC-based dance companies and for the local school system. Once a NC resident, Cheick performed with Chuck Davis and The African American Dance Ensemble at the Kennedy Center; he was a dance and drum instructor at numerous universities and theaters such as Penn State, Columbia, Duke, and UNC-Greensboro, and he also served in this role for the Wilmington school of Ballet, The Dance Coop, and the Mini-event Cultural Center (both based in Wilmington).

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what the Community says

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I love that CADDC is helping to spread African dance and drum culture to the Charlotte metro area.

Dance Class Participant

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Keep up the great work that you are doing. When the community experiences your ability to offer these productive educational opportunities to them, they will definitely gravitate.

Dance Class Participant

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Wonderful, excellent, amazing! Learned so much valuable information.


Drum Class Participant

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Classes & Programs

Public and Private

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Children’s and Adult Dance Classes are located at The Dance Company -

5009 W W.T. Harris Blvd, Suite C

Charlotte, NC 28269

* Schedule is subject to change so follow our Google Calendar for latest information.

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Every gift is a brick that builds our community.

Your generosity makes our mission of sharing culture and building community through traditional West African Dance possible! It truly ‘takes a village’ and our village is stronger with you as a part of it.

We are a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and your tax deductible gift can be made via Zelle (, CashApp ($CADDC) or using our donate button on our webpage. We thank you for your support!

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Let CADDC make your next event unforgettable!

With classes, workshops, performances, and shows , we share our love and passion for cultural music and dance art on both the public and private stage. Click below to complete our Performance Request Form and to let us know how CADDC can bring traditional West African culture to you! "

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Contact Us

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7427 Matthews-Mint Hill Road,

Suite 105-251

Mint Hill, NC 28227-7863

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