Announcing the 2015 New Griots Festival Artists!

Darrius Strong - Dancer/choreographer
ShaVunda Horsley - Multidisciplinary Artist
Trevor Bowen - Costume Designer
Stephanie Nevilles - Music 
Rock Johnsen - Ceramic Artist
Farrington Llewellyn - Multi-medium Story Teller
Maxie Rockymore - Playwright
Sherrie Fernandez-Williams - Writer
Adora Tokyo - DJ/Celebrity Beauty Artist

Darrius Strong is a Twin Cities based dancer, choreographer, teacher whose creative work has been chosen for Choreographers Evening, Rhythmically Speaking, American College Dance Festival, and University Dance Theater. Darrius has created works for Southwest High School, St Olaf College and a shared evening of work titled, Ipseity. Darrius graduated from the U of MN, Twin Cities with a BFA in Dance in 2015. He has performed in works by Uri Sands, Carl Flink, Penny Freeh, Kenna Cottman, Larry Keigwin, Joanna Rosenthal, Gregory Dolbashian, Maurya Kerr and  the Martha Graham dance company. Strong is currently a member of West African Dance group VoC (Voice of Culture). He is interested in working with movers in all different levels of training in hopes to build a bigger supportive community and in creating his own dance company, Strong Movement.


ShaVunda Horsley is a 2012 graduate from the University of Minnesota/B.F.A. Guthrie Theater Actor Training  Program. She has a minor in African and African American Studies which she integrates in theatre, spoken word and hip-hop workshops across the Twin Cities Public School Districts. ShaVunda has performed in several Twin Cities theaters. She recently performed in a developmental work she created and starred in titled Black Bitch and she will perform in Akeelah and The Bee at Children's Theater Center this fall and 6 Character In Search of an Author at Park Square in the Spring. ShaVunda is one half of the hip hop duo Khem Clan, recipients of the 2015 Verve Grant. She is the Poetry Slam Winner of The 2010 Farrago Freshers' Slam at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and is one half of the duo that won the What it Do? 2010 Peace Fest and Hip Hop Competition in Dallas, Texas. She's been writing since she was 10 and her work primarily speaks to issues regarding race, love in times of socio-economic disparity and building self-esteem among young black women


Trevor Bowen is a local costume designer. Twin Cities credits include: Choir Boy (Guthrie Theater), Gospel of Lovingkindness, Deathtax, the road weeps, the well runs dry (Pillsbury House Theater),Passing Strange, Colossal, HIR, Pussy Valley (Mixed Blood Theatre) The House On Mango Street, The Color Purple (Park Square Theater), Our Town, Steerage Song: The Tour (Theater Latte Da), Romeo and Juliet (Ten Thousand Things Theater), In The Blood, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, (Macalester College) 
Regional credits include: We Are Pussy Riot, Dead and Breathing, Modern Terrorism, Race, We Are Here, and The History of Light (Contemporary American Theater Festival). Sunset Boulevard, Singin in The Rain (Gateway Playhouse)
Upcoming productions include: Prep (Pillsbury House Theater), Henry IV Part I (Ten Thousand Things Theater), and My Children! My Africa! (Park Square Theater)  
M.F.A. Costume Design from West Virginia University.


Stephanie Nevilles is a classically trained pianist and composer from Minneapolis, MN. She has performed with classical and theatrical ensembles, as well as with rock bands. She composed a original works for film, musical theater, and for solo piano. She studied music at St. Olaf College and received her Master's from Hamline University. Her main musical influences are Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael Jackson, and Danny Elfman. Other admired composers are Kate Bush, Alan Menken, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Freddie Mercury, and Scott Joplin.


Rock Johnsen is modern American potter who uses a mixture of classic techniques and innovative color pallet, capturing his interpretation of the essence of tribal African body modification, with a specific focus on individuality. Rock has studied and practiced the art of ceramic for 8 years. He hopes his work can start a dialogue about function having beauty and a message. 


Farrington Llewellyn is a multi-medium story teller, artist and organizer. His art is a blend of unique blend of hip/hop, theater, video, installation and performance art. His most recent musical project "Farr Well" is a hip-hop story about quitting rap and creating new images of blackness. He uses his video art to reach new levels of clarity around issues; to convey messages that can't be taken out of context. A World traveler/ sub-culture indulger, his installations explore identity and community. His "Black Identity Series" is a collection of interview montages on subjects relating to black people, which he uses to guide his public discussions on race. He incorporates all of these forms into his organizing work. Creating programs like "Meat & Greet" to connect with community and bring people together


Maxie Rockymore is completing her MFA in Writing (playwriting) at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and will graduate August 2015.  Maxie hails from Minneapolis, MN and had her one act play, Straight Yellow Jacket produced at The New African Theatre, in Cleveland, Ohio, May 2014.  Another of Maxie’s plays Draft Sam was a 2013 semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill Conference. Maxie has an essay published in the current issue of The Dramatist magazine/journal;


Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, author of Soft: A Memoir, is the recipient of an Artist Initiative Award through the Minnesota State Arts Board as well as a Beyond the Pure Fellowship and SASE/Jerome Grant through Intermedia Arts of Minneapolis. She was a Loft Mentor Series winner for Creative Nonfiction, has been selected for a Givens Black Writers Collaborative Retreat, and has received a Jones Commission Award for new playwrights through the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis.  She's been published in various literary journals and anthologies such as Subtle-Tea, R-CVRY, Segue, Summit Avenue Review, Branches, and the Poverty and Education Reader.  Fernandez-Williams discovered her need for words in Brooklyn, New York, where she was born and raised, but she “grew up” as a writer in Twin Cities. She resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


While her name TOKYO is an acronym for “the other kid you overlooked”, DJ Adora TOKYO oversees beauty in energies. Ms.Tokyo cultivates vibes beyond flashing lights, disco balls and libations. She sets moods. Intentions. She makes nights. Adora spins professionally in the U.S, and is welcomed at international venues. She is widely recognized for her ever-evolving style and fresh sound. A cultural influencer, inviting us to surrender to bass, love in motion and celebrate sound through her spins. Combining her spoken word background, diverse musical influences and generational talent Adora also writes and produces original material. Mixing and blending is her specialty, be it music or cosmetics. Her artistry extends beyond her dancefloor as she is also an award-winning Celebrity Hair + Makeup Artist. With an active career in television, beauty and fashion, Adora is able to seamlessly cross worlds and industries. Blessed with unrivaled beauty and talent, DJ Adora TOKYO connects with her audience, invests in their reactions and delivers on their intertwining emotions.