Director Suzan Bradford Kounta: Ohio State Community Partner

Thiossane Institute’s director Ms. Suzan Bradford Kounta is a community partner for the Dance Department at The Ohio State University. Read about her accomplishments and see her new work set on OSU students and performed in Brazil.




Co-founder and Artistic Director of Thiossane West African Dance Institute Suzan Bradford Kounta is a dancer, instructor and choreographer of traditional West African Dance. In spring 2018, Ohio State Dance students had the privilege of opting for Kounta’s traditional West African class for their movement practice in lieu of ballet. The class offered students an in depth understanding of the musicality, techniques and relevance of traditional West African dance as it relates to authentic movement and its influences in other dance forms. Accomplished musicians of this traditional art form Jesse “Krate” Jackson and Kevin Seals accompanied each class for a full and rich experience. The curriculum included rhythms and techniques from the countries of Mali, Senegal and Guinea. (read more here)

Dances with My Father: Sat. Jan 27th, 3-6 pm

Class is Donation-Based!
Donate $10 or more and be entered in the raffle for
tee-shirts, bag, or free entry to class!

Suzan Bradford Kounta: Interview with CityPulse

Read the latest interview with our founder and artistic director, Suzan Bradford Kounta here:

Interview by Jane D’Angelo, Executive Director of OhioDance

Suzan Bradford Kounta is a dancer, instructor and choreographer of traditional West African dance. She was an Adjunct Faculty member at Antioch College and Ohio State, and guest artist at Denison. She serves on the board of OhioDance, Ft. Hayes Advisory and the Near Eastside Roundtable. She is the first General Manager of the Lincoln Theater. Suzan is President of Thiossane Institute and Artistic Director of its West African Dance Company, since its inception in 2000 with her beloved husband, Abdou Kounta. Thiossane will perform a celebratory dance for the B.R.E.A.D. Festival of Arts and Community on Saturday, Oct. 21. They will provide instruction of authentic dance and music of West African Culture with audience participation.

Jane: Can you tell me something about the founding of Thiossane Institute?
Thiossane was founded in 2000 with my husband Abdou Kounta. He was a master drummer with the National Ballet du Senegal in West Africa. My role was to teach the educational and cultural enhancement of the African Diaspora. Our focus in the beginning was children and youth development training in African dance and music. We branched out to the adult population because of the desire from the community. We later started a performing company.

Jane: How has Thiossane evolved over the years?
Suzan: We currently have an outreach program in schools, after school programs and area colleges. We perform in Columbus, surrounding communities and throughout Ohio. In May of 2017 we travelled to perform at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center in New York City. Our company currently has 16 members; six drummers and 10 dancers.

(read more here…)


Thiossane West African Dance Institute Upcoming Performance, Workshops & Classes

All classes are held at the historical Lincoln Theatre 769 East Long Street, Columbus, Ohio. Enter via RED DOORS. On line and on site registration is available.

Community Outreach Classes

  • Children classes Ages 3-16 years, Saturday mornings Sept 23 – Nov 11, 2017
  • Adult classes Every Tuesday beginning Sept 19, 630p – 8p


  • Otterbein University Student Dance Workshop, September 22
  • Soar on Saturdays at BalletMet, Sept 30 230p – 330p


  • Springfield Cultural Arts Festival, Sept 23, 4p
  • Capriccio Choir Collaboration, October 1, 4p
  • YMCA/YUSA Conference, Oct 25, 530p Renaissance Hotel
  • YMCA/YUSA Conference, Oct 26, 830p, TBA
  • Annual Fall Showcase featuring Community Outreach and Collaboration programs, and new works of dance from TWADI, Nov 18, 630p, Lincoln Theatre

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.

ujima • collective work & responsibility


Click here to view/print the full weekend schedule

On May 17 & 18th, 2013, at 7:30pm, the Thiossane West African Dance Institute will once again present its annual concert ”Collective Work & Responsibility” to be held at the Lincoln Theater. Twenty two company members will perform in an enthralling exhibition of West African dance, music and culture, certain to entertain the entire family.

We invite you to support the development of our young people and the preservation of this art form through a contribution level of your choice:



Danny Glover

Thiossane Performs at CSCC with Danny Glover

In honor of Danny Glover’s humanitarian work in Africa, the Thiossane West African Dance Institute also performed at the CSCC Diversity Initiative “Voices of Change” MLK celebration January 15, 2013.