Mama Donna’s colorful Dance Career extends from the classroom to the stage and various communities for over three decades as director of Dancescape, founder of Chihamba Jr. & Sr. companies and initiating force for Charlottesville,Virginia's African-American Cultural Arts Festival. She has continued to serve as Consultant for schools and community African Dance companies including “Chihamba”, “Nguzu Saba” of Danville, VA and and dance programs in Durham, NC where she currently resides.
Throughout her career she has provided African workshops, residencies and performances in addition to offering community classes.She operated her own dance studio for over 8 years teaching Modern/Jazz, Tap, Dance Movement, African Drumming and Dance. During that time, her students won awards with the Dance Educators of America and Dance Inc. dance competitions. She has over 30 years of Dance Experience, a degree in Education from VirginiaStateUniversity and 26 years of teaching in public school systems on the secondary, elementary including University and Community College levels.In addition to being listed in Virginia's Bluemont Concert Series for 4 years, she toured 11 years with Young Audiences of Virginia, 5 years with the Virginia Commission of the Arts Tour Directory and served 17 years in Artist-In-Education programs throughout Virginia.
Her knowledge of African dance, customs, and traditions extends partly from her pilgrimages and performances in The Gambia, Senegal, and Cote d'Ivoire, in West Africa.Her update training continues with master classes, workshops, lecture demonstrations and seminars.
While living in Virginia, she received the 1990 Business Week Innovative Teaching Award for her African dance programs in Albemarle County schools.A work history includes community outreach programs with the Piedmont Council of the Arts and endeavors with Chihamba providing educational presentations for schools, organizations, community festivals, international programs and other special occasions throughout the state of
Virginia.As a result, in May 1991 she was awarded "The individual category" for
Charlottesville’s Piedmont Council of the Arts' Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award.In 1993, she was selected by the Virginia Skyline Girl Scout Council, as a Woman of Distinction and recognized by the Interfraternal Council for her contributions to the community as an African-American woman.In 1994, she was selected by the Shenandoah Valley Hit as Female Entrepreneur of the year, in 1995 was selected as one of Charlottesville's Hometown Heroes by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center for making a positive difference in young peoples' lives and 1996 received the African-American Community Award from the Charlottesville-Albemarle Tribune.
In 2003, she returned to education still answering the call to selected performances and engagements. In 2009, she relocated to
North Carolina teaching various forms of dance with the Durham Public Schools. Her intentions are to spend the rest of her dancing days sharing her joy of Dance with the young and young at heart. Her life continues to preserve and uplift the rich cultural heritage of people of African decent.
"A person without knowledge of their past is like a tree without roots" (African Proverb)