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Founders / APSWN

Amaniyea Payne is a  viable artistic force in dance communities around the world recognized for her many talents as Dancer, Director, Producer, Choreographer, Arts Educator, Costume Designer  

and Humanitarian. Known to many in the African Dance genre as a “National Treasure”.  Amaniyea has been the recipient of many awards, which speaks to her career achievements. 


Her style of dance evolves from natural rhythmic movements based and informed by dances and cultures of the African Diaspora.  She’s studied, performed and toured globally with prominent companies and well known music and dance legends, such as Stevie Wonder, Cab Calloway, Ben Harper, Bunny Wailers and Lindy-hop innovators Norma Miller, Frankie Manning, Momma Lou Parks to name a few and Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, where she presently serves as Artistic Director.


Ms. Payne has collaborated with artists and arts organizations throughout the Diaspora, focusing on finding new ways to translate dance for the stage while also preserving and respecting traditional parameters for performance.  Having a deep sense of responsibility to honor the legacy of great expressions of dance, Amaniyea respectfully continues to aid in the development of the future generations of dancers who will carry the aesthetic and spiritual base of Black Dance.

Sophia Walsh-Newman, also known by her African names Soso and Lemlem, was born in London of Jamaican parents. She is a cultural educator versed in the dances of the Caribbean and the African diaspora. She holds Masters Degrees, in Urban  Planning and Higher Education Adminis-tration. As a certified yoga instructor and doula, she specializes in teaching families how to maintain their health together.  She facilitates drumming, dance, and cultural arts workshops in NYC and when at home in Jamaica with her mother.  

Her sustainability projects include development in an organic farming community in Oracabessa, St. Mary.   Volunteer and assists with the free M & D  (Mothers and Daughters) children’s arts and crafts summer camp for the past five years.   The summer camp provides art and an array of classes, school supplies and donations for children in the community.

As a dancer and performer, Sophia has performed at Lincoln Center, SOB’s, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, African Burial Ground, Hope Gardens, FiWiSinting, and at many many festivals. 


Soso loves playing the djembe honoring the connection between the drum and dance to our ancestors.   Sophia Lemlem is proud to be co-hosting the Annual Jamaica African Dance Arts and Culture Festival with Amaniyea Payne in Jamaica.

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