Kingsley Nii Ayikwei Aryeh is a choreographer from Ghana. He currently lives in North Carolina in the USA where he works as a full time faculty professor of dance at Elon University. To Jason, dancing came naturally. As a young boy, he was fond of moving his body and doing dance steps to the sound of music.
As his passion for dance increased, Jason embraced the art and went on to develop his skills and he continues to do this even now. He studied Dance and African Studies at the University of Ghana and Choreography and Performance at the State University of New York, College at Brockport. At 28, Jason is the youngest professor at his school.
Jason has featured in many performances across Africa and the rest of the world. His unique style of movement made it easy for him to be spotted on stage. This is what Samuel Akpor Sowah (an admirer) said of him recently, "Anytime I see him move on stage or even at rehearsals, I look again and again and marvel and wonder how he does it so well".
In Ghana, like in many developing countries, not much attention is given to the arts, particularly when it comes to music and dance. It is common to find that parents will persuade their children to pursue professions other than those in the arts, so this was a challenge that Jason had to face. However, he did not let this stop him from pursuing his dream.
Jason is the artistic director of an upcoming dance company, AFRICAN ALIVE. He stunned the audience with his performance this summer to the point where they seemed to not want to leave the auditorium after the show. It was a unique and complicated performance that told many stories.
He was a featured soloist, ensemble dancer and choreographer for the Performing Arts Workshop, (PAWS) a Dance Company affiliated with the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana and for Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble, also affiliated with the Dance Department at the College at Brockport in 2009. He also featured in Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble concert in 2010 by The College at Brockport's Department of Dance.
Nii Ayikwei, as he is affectionately called, has won many awards including the prestigious student award at the ongoing American Dance Festival (ADF) as a Faculty Assistant. He has worked as a guest artist, exploring his research of infusion of modern and West African contemporary dance forms/styles in many middle and high schools in the United States and Ghana.
Some of these include Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, University of Rochester, Elon University in North Carolina and the College at Brockport. He has choreographed more than 10 pieces for professional dance companies in the United States and in West Africa. His works have received enthusiastic reviews across the United States and in West African countries, one of them described as a "most complicated and heart pounding performance" by The Mirror.
The Stylus called it "The liveliest dance and it seemed like the audience felt the glow of happiness and fun beaming off the stage." Aryeh conducts, teaches and choreographs a summer and winter term intensive dance workshop for dancers and international exchange students to Ghana. He continues to research and work as a guest artist/performer/choreographer and dance educator at universities and dance companies internationally.
It is rumored that Jason once turned down a job offer as an ambassador for arts. This is what he had to say about that: 'I am very happy working with the faculty at my department; they are very helpful, supportive and collaborative. I call them family'. He advises upcoming artists who want to get to where he is and perhaps go further to persevere and be unique in their own way and be creative. 'To be successful, one needs to be bold, to move and learn, to explore and research" he says.
Jason is married and blessed with a daughter. He wishes to add to his dance, modeling in the future if the opportunity comes. He enjoys playing soccer.