Meet Quianna Simpson

Name? Quianna Simpson

What city are you from? Columbus, Ohio

When did you join Thiossane?

Original member; began with the company at age seven

When you think of Thiossane, what immediately comes to mind? What does Thiossane mean to you?

When I think of Thiossane, I think of family, community, togetherness, respect, and all the great makings of a quality life. I can’t imagine my life without Thiossane. I don’t think I would be as happy dancing somewhere else. Read more

Thiossane Drummers

Meet Carlton Pope

Name? Carlton Pope

What city are you from? Columbus, Ohio

When did you join Thiossane?

Originally started with ABCDE, then became an original member of Thiossane Institute

When you think of Thiossane, what immediately comes to mind? What does Thiossane mean to you?

I think of the lineage of the [Diasporic] culture itself and bridging the gaps between known history and lost history. Thiossane teaches us about the roots and richness of culture. Just like a tree, its story doesn’t start from the ground – it starts from the roots. Read more

My First Thiossane Performance

Like many American citizens with African ancestry, I have (at least) an indirect connection with the region of West Africa. Whether historic, symbolic, or current, my cultural heritage echoes the crashing waters of the shores, the sensory stimuli of the interior, and the enduring legacy of the people. As a child I learned traditional dance forms – ballet, tap, gymnastics, lyric – and so I felt I had a connection to the Thiossane West African Dance Institute. Nothing was further from the truth and nothing, still, could have prepared me for the brilliance I was to witness. Read more

African Dance: Art in Motion


May 1st through May 31st

Opening Reception
Thursday, May 7, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Gallery / Artist Talk
Sunday, May 24, 2015
3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Learn More

Bring the Beat Back

This is a story 30 years in the making, so get comfortable. Circa 1984, I moved with my parents and younger brothers to Columbus from Canton, OH. In the process of getting to know the city, becoming involved in the African-American community, and building a cultural experience for my upbringing, my mother took me to the Driving Park library (before it was remodeled and moved) to see an African drum and dance performance. Having already experienced my first Battle of the Bands in Canton, Mom already knew I was drawn to the drums (listen to “All My Love” from my LP Snaps, Taps, Booms & Baps for a more detailed story of my musical development.) All aspects of that performance at the library had me hooked.

Post performance conversation led to Saturday morning drum classes at the African Center on Livingston Avenue (a space that later became Ujamaa Book Store). Those Saturday morning classes turned into Saturday afternoon performances around the city. Classes moved from the African Center to Garfield School (later to be known as the King Performing Arts Center). Time passed as time always does; Kwanzaa of 1986 became Kwanzaa of 1996. That second grader was now 18 years old. That decade of experiences under the tutelage of Baba Tony West was not only the foundation of my musical education, but very instructive in my development as an African-American male in this society.

Fast forward from 1996 to 2013. I’m in full swing as a veteran DJ of 16 years, but I’m searching for something. I can’t quite describe what I’m looking for, but I know I’m missing something. Culturally, spiritually, creatively … it’s all not quite in line. A couple of chance run-ins with Carlton Pope finally brought me to the Lincoln Theater for the Thiossane West African Dance Institute’s (TWADI) Tuesday evening community drum and dance classes. Suzan Bradford-Kounta, Najia, and Carlton are all folks I had previous relationships with in the community, whether through drumming and dancing or through other community events, so becoming a part of those community classes when my schedule allowed was a perk I was humbled to experience based on more than 20 years of mutual respect.

And just like that, I found it.

It was that foundation of every other musical endeavor I ever had in life — drumming.

Every six weeks on Tuesday became every Tuesday. Conversations led to collaborations led to being honored to be a member of TWADI’s professional company. While it’s about drumming and it’s about dancing, it’s about so much more. The values, responsibilities, expectations, challenges, and fellowship of creatives with a common cultural respect and bond is what TWADI returned to my life. The societal trappings that I often encountered as a DJ in the entertainment industry aren’t present in my experiences with TWADI. That ancestral grounding, that return to the root, was what I needed. It’s what I’ve once again found.

All for One, One for All…

– Jesse bka DJ Krate Digga… Follow me on twitter @KrateDigga, follow TWADI @Thiossane_Inst.

She Makes It Beautiful Features Suzan Bradford Kounta

“I wanted to create a career from my passion. I am fueled when I can provide or create opportunities that allow people to grow through their creativity.” –Suzan Bradford-Kounta

The Phoenix Rising Collective (PRC) provides self-esteem education that inspires and empowers personal growth and change in the lives of women and girls through self-development workshops, holistic health and wellness events, and personal empowerment coaching. Suzan Bradford-Kounta was featured in the publication’s She Makes It Beautiful series. Read the full article here.

Heart of Africa

As the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium conducted research in developing the components of the new Heart of Africa exhibit, Programming Staff contacted the Thiossane Institute to inquire about our education programs and how the exhibit and the Institute could forge a partnership. After a year of creating the program, Thiossane Institute became the education and entertainment component for the Heart of Africa exhibit and we would serve in that capacity for the next three years.

From the outset we proved invaluable to the exhibit and its attendees. Thiossane edu-tainment included three daily performances every weekend between May and September, building both our audience and Heart of Africa exhibit programming. Thiossane Institute performed for special guest request and Zoo events. This collaboration is, in part, the catalyst for a partnership between the Zoo and Thiossane for our 15th anniversary benefit concert.

The Big Give

Support Thiossane with The Big Give!


September 17-18, Thiossane Institute  will join The Columbus Foundation in The Big Give.

Over the past 13 years, we have used the disciplines of traditional  performing arts as a vehicle to introduce, enhance and encourage social and cultural awareness and development, as we present and preserve this art form. Help us to continue serving young people as we represent the diversity of our city  by giving generously to the Institute through The Big Give. The Columbus Foundation will maximize your gift from a pool of $1 million in funds.

It’s simple!

Visit The Columbus Foundation website ( between 11 am on Tuesday, September 17, and 11 am on Wednesday, September 18.

Select Thiossane Institute  from the list of qualifying non-profits.

Donate using a major credit card with a minimum donation of $20. Columbus Foundation donors can also make a grant (minimum of $100) through their Donor Advised Fund

For more information about Thiossane Institute visit our Power Philanthropy Portrait.

Thank you for your support!

The Big Give is a dynamic community-wide opportunity to support hundreds of nonprofits working to strengthen and improve our community. Utilizing the Foundation’s online marketplace, PowerPhilanthropy®, you can show your spirit by giving to one or more of 600 central Ohio nonprofits during The Big Give.


  1. Starting on Tuesday, September 17 at 11:00 a.m. EST, visit
  2. Make a minimum credit card gift of $20 using a major credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) to the eligible nonprofit(s) of your choice that are part of PowerPhilanthropy®. If you are a Columbus Foundation donor, you can make a grant to the nonprofit of your choice using your Donor Advised Fund or Supporting Foundation, with a minimum of $100.
  3. Everyone making a donation will receive an e-mail confirming receipt of their donation.
  4. Donations, once made, cannot be rescinded.
  5. The bonus pool percentage ratio and preliminary results will be posted on on Monday, September 23.

QUESTIONS? Contact us at or call 614/251-4000.

Fall 2013 Performances

Fall 2013 Performances


September 28, 2013 4:45-5:45pm

Springfield Arts Council

Main Stage, Downtown Springfield

[one_third]The Graham School[/one_third][two_third_last]

September 28, 2013

Graham School Presentation



October 2, 2013 5:30-5:45pm

PGA President’s Cup at the Columbus Downtown Commons for the International Festival of the Opening Ceremonies



November 9, 2014

Children Community Class Recital



November 14- 16, 2013

World Music Summit in Collaboration with City Music, King Arts Complex featuring Sing Sing Family – West African Drum Orchestra



November 17, 2013

International Dance and Drum workshop, Lincoln Ballroom (TBA)