Theodore H. Jamison (Theo`) -- is program director for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts, formerly known as the Katherine Dunham Center for the Performing Arts. Theo` received a bachelor of science degree in Theater and Fine Arts/Dance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is certified by Katherine Dunham to teach the Dunham Technique. He has also served as Dunham’s demonstrator for more than 15 years. Theo` has been trained by original members of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, Lucille Ellis, Tommy Gomez, Archie Savage, Lenwood Morris, Pearl Reynolds, Vanoye Aikens, Wilburt Bradley, Norman Davis and Lavinya Williams. His honors include the Outstanding Young Men of America, Outstanding Achievement Award (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.) and Credos Artist Award-Mexico, D.F.
Theo’ has choreographed and performed with Les Ballet Bacolou in Petionville, Haiti; Eugene Joseph Dance Company Port of Spain, Trinidad; and Joyce Ballet of Sao Paulo, Brasil. Theo’ served as a guest artist for the following: Darlene Blackburn Dance Company in Chicago, Ill; Joseph Holmes Dance Company in Chicago, Muntu in Chicago, Uhuru Dance Company in Nashville, Tenn.; American College Dance Festival in Texas; Katherine Dunham Seminar in East St. Louis, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver, Colo; Phila Danco in Philadelphia, Lula Washington Dance Co. in Los Angeles, Fundisha Dance Company in St. Louis, Colorado Springs University Fine Arts Program, Tennessee State University Theater Program, Lincoln University Dance Troupe in Jefferson City and the Contemporary Dance In America Black-Influence and Expressions Conference in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Theo’ taught and performed at the International Association of Black Dance Conference in Washington, D.C. He was also guest artist at Carnegie Hall in New York for the Katherine Dunham Gala and Faces of Love Gitano Productions and the St. Louis Municipal Opera. He performed at the St. Louis Black Repertory Company as a singer, dancer, choreographer and actor and has performed and choreographed at an International Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria. He also performed and choreographed for television in Mexico City, Mexico and performed the one-man show, “Black Songs and Dances of America” in Vienna, Australia.
Jamila Ajanaku — a native of Chicago, IL. Graduate of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1975. She began her training in high school with dance instructor Ms. Diane Brooks, who was instrumental in her decision to pursue the arts as a career. In 1975, Ajanaku started classes under the tutelage of the late legendary Miss Katherine Dunham at what is now known as the East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts. For the last 30 years she has trained students, choreographed, performed and conducted lectures and workshops nationwide.
Andrea Smythe — is making her presence felt throughout this country. Her dance training began at The Katherine Dunham Center for the Performing Arts (KDCPA) in East St. Louis, IL, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater and Dance at SIUE. There, Smythe studied dance under the Great Madame Katherine Dunham. She is a Dunham Technique instructor and was honored at the Dynamic Dance Festival in Atlanta, Ga., in 2006. Some of her many performances include: the PBS Special “Katherine Dunham-Devine Drum Beat,” Carnegie Hall in New York and Mor Thiam’s International Senegalese Dance Co. In addition to the ESLC, Smythe has choreographed for the SIUE Theater Department.
Earl Leonard Wilkes — A St. Louis based performer, Mr. Wilkes began his career as a dancer/actor in 1985. He studied dance under renowned choreographer Frank Hachett from New York and Ray Parks from St. Louis, MO. He attended Broadway Dance Center and Steps Dance Studio (both in New York), Ray Parks Academy and Beutell Ballet School (both in St. Louis). Some of his stage credits include: Beauty and the Beast, the Wizard of OZ, Stage Struck, Oklahoma and 42nd Street. He joined ESLCPA in 1994 as an instructor and dancer. In 1996, Wilkes studied piano and music theory at SIUE. In 1998, he expanded his musical genre to include playing and teaching guitar lessons.
John (Jack) Williams — is a versatile performer who received his Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from SIUE. He has performed locally and nationally. He studied dance at the Katherine Dunham Center for Performing Arts, under the direction of Miss Katherine Dunham. Williams also studied under other master instructors such as: Ballet Master, Lenwood Morris; Tap Master, Archie Savage; Jazz and Dunham Instructor, Norman Davis; International Artist, Vanoye Aikens. Williams has performed in Summer Stock production of Showboat and in Black Repertory Production of Bubbling Brown Sugar. Williams has conducted a variety of workshops throughout the Metro East. He is also a professional videographer.