Meet The Staff
The team of artists, producers, and directors at Ko-Thi Dance Company work hard in order to produce compelling performances for audiences nationwide. We wouldn’t be where we are today if not for their amazing talent and hard work. These are the faces behind the #1 Dance Company in the city.
Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker
Founder & Executive Director
Ferne is the Founder and Executive Director of the Ko-Thi Dance Company, Wisconsin’s oldest African American arts organization. Ko-Thi, founded in 1969, is dedicated to the preservation and expression of the performing arts from the African Continent, Caribbean and United States. She taught at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee beginning in 1971, where she was a Full Professor in the Peck School of the Arts’ Department of Dance until she retired as Professor Emerita in 2016. She is particularly interested in the relationship between arts training and exposure, increased self-esteem and social behavior. She is a Fulbright Scholar. Her Fulbright award allowed her to study and travel in Tanzania, East Africa for 3 months. Caulker has served on many panels, including the NEA and WAB, and served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Arts Board for one 3-year term.
Associate Artistic Director
Born and raised in Jamaica, Sonya has been dancing since she was 4 years old. Embedded in her soul are the traditional culturalisms of African people throughout the Caribbean Diaspora. She has an Associate’s degree from MATC in Administrative Professional Applied Science and plans to pursue her Bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in Criminal Justice.
Kumasi is a native of Milwaukee. He is an alumnus of Ton Ko-Thi and the adult ensemble, returned home. As a benefit of his years in Ko-Thi and extensive world travels, he brings a wealth of passion, physical training/fitness, artistic and world knowledge to the organization. He is currently a sales and leasing representative for Russ Darrow dealership and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
Ton Ko-Thi Children Performing Ensemble Director
Imani's journey started in 1994 in Denver, Colorado where she was born and studied under many master teachers: Baba Chuck Davis, Cleo Parker Robinson, and Masa Tribe. In 2001 she moved to Milwaukee, WI. She joined the Ko-Thi Dance Company in 2004 to continue her training. Since then, Imani has been studying, teaching dance and performing with Ko-Thi. In 2020 she became the Artistic Director of Ton Ko-Thi Children’s Performing Ensemble. In 2022 Imani is collaborating with TBEY Arts Center as a teaching artist and also URBAN ARTS in Racine Public Schools as an African dance specialist.
Ton Ko-Thi Children Performing Ensemble Assistant Musical Director
Deonte Ellis is a native of Milwaukee. He graduated from Riverside University High School in 2015. While at Riverside he joined their drumline, playing the snare drum. In 2018 he joined the Milwaukee Bucks (Bucks Beats Drumline). He later joined the American Legion Band. As he continues to learn and travel, he is inspired by the aesthetics and discipline of African drumming. Discovering the craft of the Djembe drum inspired him to join the Ko-Thi Dance Company in 2019, where he continues to perform and now teaches. In 2022 Deonte is now the Assistant Music Director of Ton and Adult ensembles of Ko-Thi Dance Company. Additionally, he works with Wisconsin Conservatory as a music educator including work with Urban Arts in Racine Public Schools as the African Drum Director.