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Contours Dance East Africa

Shelly Ohene-Nyako workshop at Dance Life Festival [Nairobi]

Shelly Ohene-Nyako

Company website

Swiss-born, Dakar-based dancer and choreographer Shelly Ohene-Nyako has been invited by Dance Life Festival to host a workshop series for female dancers during this year’s festival. The workshop will culminate in a performance titled “She Who Moves” on 9 July 2023.

Shelly is deeply invested in dance as a form of social engagement and empowerment. Through her company, Cie Shefroyan, Shelly teaches and organises residencies and exchanges to provide opportunities for the next generation of African dancers.

The Nairobi workshop concept centres around the individual movement styles of each of the dancers in the space. Shelly’s process will consist of providing tools for the dancers to discover their personality in the space and in their movements. They will explore traditional dances through the lens of the four elements – earth, air, fire, water – and find ways to incorporate these different qualities into their movements. Through this process, Shelly will choreograph a new performance, which will be presented during the festival.


Shelly Ohene-Nyako is contemporary dancer and choreographer. She studied applied arts in Geneva (Switzerland) and received a bachelor’s in art performance (BPA Hons) from Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds (United Kingdom). After completing her degree in 2017, Shelly has been engaged as a dancer with two Swiss companies, Cie Umadanse and Neopost Foofwa. She has experience in creating, performing and touring with these companies. Through these experiences she has found an interest in ancestral methods within her own artistic approach and dance, as well social engagement. Shelly left Switzerland in 2018 to base herself in Ghana. Since 2021 she has been living and working in Dakar. Shelly juggles between touring as a dancer with international productions and hosting workshop and creations under her company Cie Shefroyan. Shelly is also a yoga-stretch and contemporary ballet teacher and guides meditation in her practice. Since 2020, Shelly has been dancing for the project Sacre, the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky, produced by Sadler’s Wells London, the foundation Pina Bausch Wuppertal and Ecole des Sables Dakar. She is currently touring with 34 other African dancers around the world.


The Dance Life Festival was founded in 2020 to give the rising dance scene in Nairobi a new stage to share, connect and reinvent the local dance practice. Taking place over two weeks, the festival includes workshops, artist talks, film screenings and performances. Over its three editions, the festival has become the biggest event for dance in Nairobi. Dance Life Festival aims to build a hub for East African dance, creating more space to experiment and develop new pieces, especially through international cooperations. The festival is a partnership between curator Adam Chienjo and the Goethe-Institut Nairobi.