Oluyinka A. Akinjiola, Artistic Director/Choreographer/Dancer, received a MFA in Dance Choreography and Performance. She creates a unique blend between dances of Africa, the African Diaspora and Modern dance. She was a three year guest artist for the Sankofa African Drum & Dance Ensemble; her work was featured in the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference (Washington D.C.), Carnaval 2014 (Salvador, BA, Brazil), and Ten Tiny Dances (Beaverton, OR). She was an Artist-in-Residence at New Expressive Works from 2014 -2015. Oluyinka also performs with Axé Didé, was featured in the Artist Repertory Theater production of Cuba Libre, and a teaching Artist with Young Audiences, and is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Reed College. Oluyinka is a recipient of the 2017 Oregon Arts Commission Artist Fellowship, Monserrat Award for Dance Research, was a Fulbright Finalist and in the Regional Arts and Culture Council's Cultural Leadership Program.
Michael ‘MANTIS’ Galen, Founding Member/ Dancer/Choreographer is a versatile freestyle dancer, teacher, and choreographer based in Portland, OR. Specializing in various street and club dance styles, he has trained, battled, performed, and taught all over the west coast and Brazil. Some specialties include: Bboyin, House, Locking, Stepping, and Hip Hop party dancing. Expanding from hip hop, Michael has studied many styles of the African Diaspora, including: Afro-cuban, Afro-Brazilian, and a variety of West African styles. A strong foundation in breakdance and capoeira contributes to his fluid and complex floor work. While in Brazil, he trained Silvestre Technique with the creator, Rosangela Silvestre, and Vera Passos. Silvestre is a modern technique fusing Afro-Brazilian spiritual movements and concepts with western classical techniques. Michael currently loves dancing and choreographing with Rejoice Diaspora Dance Theater.
Jamie Minkus, Founding member/Dancer/Choreographer, Born in Madison WI, her love affair with movement started when she became a competitive gymnast at the age of 10. Later in life, while earning her degree at the University of Wisconsin, she started dancing with a local Brazilian hand drum troop which prompted her studies in Brazilian folkloric movement. Her gymnastics background and affinity with Brazilian culture led her to train and teach the Brazilian martial art, capoeira, under the precise eye of Mestre Almiro Aquilino dos Santos, but this was just the spark that ignited her fire. Her capoeira studies introduced her to the larger world of Afro-Brazilian movement, particularly movements of the Orixas, which also opened her to the movements found in Afro-Cuban culture. Jamie went on to study Oricha movement in Havana, Cuba with members of the infamous folkloric dance and music company, Raicais Profundos. Beyond this, she recently completed the Silvestre Technique contemporary dance intensive in Salvador, Brazil. Jamie currently lives in Portland OR where she had been a dancer in Donna Oefingers Afro-Brazilan and Afro-Cuban dance company, Axé Didé, for over eight years, is a performer and choreographer in the contemporary dance company,"Rejoice: An African Diaspora Dance Theater," teaches Afro-Brazilian dance and Pilates, and tours across the country with March Fourth! as an acrobat, dancer, capoeirista, and choreographer.
Uriah Boyd, Founding Member/Dancer/Choreographer, a Portland native, grew up surrounded by dance and music. At family gatherings when huge movement circles would form, she would scuttle to the outskirts and try not to be noticed. However, at the age of 11 when she attended da Vinci Arts Middle School, this changed immediately. Uriah found that she loved performing, and that dance helped her to feel like a social being after years of preferred solitude. Uriah's connection to movement only grew stronger as she did, and in high school she truly fell for dance as an art form, language, and coping mechanism. Years later, Uriah has continued dancing with and choreographing for companies and collectives around Portland such as The Jefferson Dancers II, Kemba Shannon Dance Ensemble, House of Aquarius, and now Rejoice!
Bethany Harvey was born and raised in Portland, OR. She discovered her love for dance at age 10 when she began taking classes in tap, jazz, and baton. She continued growing her passion for dance and exploring different movement styles throughout high school and college; she was a member of the Jefferson Dancers and later Western Oregon University's dance program. Bethany enjoys dancing with Rejoice! as a way to integrate her passion for dance, social justice, and honoring the stories of underrepresented populations. Bethany joined Rejoice! for Ibukun/The Celebration in January 2017 and will be featured in many new choreographic works in UPRISE.
Xavier "Decimus" Yarbrough is a movement artist that was bred from a blend of martial arts and urban and club dance styles. With having a strong family history in music and dance, it was almost inevitable for Decimus to find his passion within the same realm of arts. Decimus had always been invested in the culture of martial arts, ranging in disciplines such as Isshin Ryu, Hapkido and Capoeira-Angola. Hip-Hop/Bboyin found Decimus at an early age where he began to further pursue his passion for dance and movement. The love for House music and dance and club culture began to develop while in his journeys of authentic feelings of freedom of expression. Throughout the years, Decimus travelled to various parts of the country and world to experience, share and learn from other cultures. Decimus currently uses his movement to advocate the preservation of the cultures that raised and influenced him