Photo of dancers mid step during Who We Carry
Photo: Jingzi Zhao


Rikkia Pereira


Rikkia hails from New York City, raised on rigorous training in Ballet, Horton Modern, Jazz, and West African Dance. At Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, Rikkia studied both dance and education. There, she was introduced to the world of Improvisation, studied Contemporary dance with Deborah Goffe, choreographed & produced work, and implemented projects focused on empowering young people through leadership training, dance & dance making. Post grad, Rikkia taught dance in after school programs, participated in the Urban Bush Women's Summer Leadership Institute, and pursued Hip Hop studies with Robin Dunn. Presently, Rikkia is developing herself as a dance teacher and choreographer, serving as Studio Manager at New Expressive Works, and excitedly dancing with Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater. Rikkia strongly believes in the power of dance, as it has served as a site for her self actualization and gifted her with the tools to be an empowered, embodied person in everything she does.

Oluyinka Akinjiola

Artistic Director | Choreographer | Dancer

Portland based artist and educator originally from New York State. After receiving her MFA in Dance Choreography & Performance she founded Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater in 2014 with the support of New Expressive Works Artist Residency (Subashini Ganesan) and Performance Works NW’s Alembic Co-Production series(Linda Austin). Rejoice was built as a platform to create Black contemporary dance work with movement foundations from Africa and the African-Diaspora. Her choreography focuses on the complex identities, histories and futures of Black communities.

Oluyinka is an Educator and curriculum builder with Portland Public Schools at Harriet Tubman Middle School and Faubion K-8. Prior to PPS, Oluyinka was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Reed College and SUNY The College at Brockport, a three year guest artist for the Sankofa African Drum & Dance Ensemble; her work was featured in the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference (Washington D.C. and Los Angeles),  Carnaval 2014 (Salvador, BA, Brazil), TEDxMtHood, and Newmark Theater among others. Most recently, Oluyinka received the Oregon Dance Education Organization’s teacher of the year award in 2020.

Ola Onipede


Ola is a dancer trained in a variety of different techniques and styles, including classical training, but takes heart to dances like Afrobeat and Bata, from his origins in Nigeria, West Africa. He has performed independently, with companies, and instructed abroad in Nigeria, Jamaica, LA, Washington DC, Arkansas, Texas, and NYC. When not instructing Ola is involved in the Fitness, Aviation, and UI/UX Research industries. He likes to experience different cultures by traveling and exploring their history in dance and food.

Michael Galen

Dancer | Choreographer | Composer

Portland, OR native, Michael started his dance career in hip hop and club dane culture as a bboy. His dance studies took him to Ghana, Brazil, Senegal, and New York, studying a wide range of secular and sacred dances from the African-Diaspora, as well as a variety of contemporary and modern techniques. His notable teachers are: Khady Badji (Bakalama Dance Co., Senegal), Rosangela Silvestre & Vera Passos (Bahia, Brazil), his local peers, and many more. Michael has spent many years sharing his passions through public school residencies and private programs. He also frequently composes and records music for Rejoice productions, building on his university studies in Jazz Performance.

Mariana Rose Thorn


Mariana is a dance artist, teacher, and choreographer. Her movement background includes over a decade of study in West African, Haitian Folkloric, Ballet, Cuban Modern & Folkloric, and especially Afro Brazilian Popular, Folkloric, and Modern traditions arising in Bahia Brazil. She has performed with Alayo Dance Company and Ballet Afsaneh, among others. Mariana is a certified instructor of the Silvestre Dance Technique, as well as Pilates. She teaches and choreographs for weddings and special events through her business, Mating Dance Maker. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in Portland.

Keinya Kohlbecker


Keinya (Keen-yah) describes herself as a life long dancer.  She began her early dance years in the Detroit area learning tap, ballet, hula, and jazz. During her freshman year of college, she rediscovered her love of dance when she began taking Afro-Jazz classes with April Berry, a former Alvin Ailey dancer.  This opened her world to the dance techniques of Dunham, Graham, Horton, Limón, as well as a variety of other dancers and dance genres.

After receiving her BA in Dance from Denison University in 2000, she traveled to London, participating in a variety of West African Master classes.  In 2001, Keinya auditioned for Area-51 Dance company in Reno, NV dancing and choreographing with them for the 2001-2002 season. Keinya currently lives in Portland with her partner Matt, their son Noah, and dog, Dean. Throughout her time in Portland, she’s had the pleasure to dance with Sekou Walker and Kemba Shannon.  Now, she is excited to be a part of the Rejoice! Diaspora family!

Bethany Harvey

Dancer | Choreographer

Born and raised in Portland, OR. She discovered her love for dance at age 10 when she began taking classes in tap, jazz, and baton. She continued growing her passion for dance and exploring different movement styles throughout high school and college; she was a member of the Jefferson Dancers and later Western Oregon University's dance program. Bethany enjoys dancing with Rejoice! as a way to integrate her passion for dance, social justice, and honoring the stories of underrepresented populations. Bethany joined Rejoice! for Ibukun/The Celebration in January 2017 and will be featured in many new choreographic works in UPRISE.