Kevin McEwen – Biography

A native of Brooklyn New York, Kevin’s love for dance goes back to the early days of break dancing and reggae dancehall competitions across the city.  In 1994, his love for stepping (which was inspired by the Spike Lee Joint “Do The Right Thing”) led him to create the Francis Lewis Nu Gamma Psi Step Squad alongside two of his lifetime friends Sakina Kaleak and Tara Spivey. After graduating from high school, Kevin attended Hampton University, where he briefly became a member of the Majestic Dance Troupe, while also choreographing the step routine for Harkness Hall’s championship team of the 1996 Annual Freshman Stepshow.  After leaving Hampton University, Mr. McEwen relocated to the DC Metropolitan area.

His time in DC gave him exposure to the KanKouran West African Dance Company in 2001.  After meeting KanKouran’s Artistic Director, Assane Konte, Kevin was invited to their weekly community classes, where he learned many of the various techniques from Senior Company Members.  After two years of apprenticeship, Kevin became a full-time member of the Senior Company. Kevin’s decade-long dance career with KanKouran gave him a foundation in West African dance (with a focus on Senegal and Mali dances), which has proved invaluable as he broadened his dance repertoire by studying under dance masters to include Afro-Cuban, Haitian Folkloric, and various Modern/Contemporary dance techniques.

When Kevin isn’t dancing, he spends his time as an apprentice percussionist under the tutelage of Griot Percussionist Medoune Yacine Gueye, learning the techniques of the D’jembe, D’jun D’jun, Sabar and Kutiro drums.

Kevin has taught West African Dance classes for the Dance Institute of Washington, John Hansen French Immersion School, TC Williams High School, American University and the Ngoma Center for Dance. Kevin’s previous dance collaborations include dance projects with Dance To SaveLives-Jacmel, The Edeyo Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Fara Lambe, the Howard University Dance Department and the creation of the Re-Definition of Manhood (ROM) Project, which gives guidance to young African American men through mentorship, performing arts development and rights of passage indoctrination.   His work with the ROM Project provided him a foundation to provide mentorship to four young boys from the Southside of Chicago in the groundbreaking documentary, “Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey,” which documents the sojourn of these young men back to Senegal, West Africa to study the musical and cultural traditions of the Griot drumming traditions.

His choreography work entitled “Nagnou Fecc – The Men MUST Dance” is his artistic protest to the increased and rampant assault on the black male identity. ” We are at a place and time where we are literally being hunted down and assassinate by those who THINK they control us, however, it is my belief that these strategic emasculating activities are happening to us as a whole only because we ALLOW them to happen.”

Kevin is currently the West African dance instructor for the Gloria Eve Performing Arts Foundation Inc, located in Hempstead, New York, choreographing multiple pieces in the schools 15th-anniversary show, which reenacts the Disney production of “Aladdin.”  Kevin’s ongoing work with Gloria Eve will focus on increasing the community’s awareness of African dance culture and ethnography while working to expose the students to international opportunities in cultural dance immersion.

As a lecturer in African cultural dance ethnography, Kevin has presented his research at several conferences, including the Season of Dance in Barbados and the African Theater Associations Annual International Conference in Abuja, Nigeria.

Mr. McEwen is also a second-year student at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, where he is studying to obtain a Master’s Degree in Dance Education.  This will help in his immediate goal of teaching at the collegiate level. His long-term goal is to obtain a PHD in Public Health Studies which will benefit his mission of treating various forms of trauma, stress, and depression through the practical understanding of traditional African dance pedagogy and cultural ethnography.