Arts·The Move

After dancing for Rihanna and Drake, Esie Mensah is answering the call of her ancestors

It's all in the hips. Canada's queen of Afrofusion digs deep into her past in this electrifying performance from The Move: Season II.

It's all in the hips. Canada's queen of Afrofusion digs deep into her past in this electrifying performance

Esie Mensah is a dancer and choreographer whose dynamic Afrofusion dance is not to be missed in The Move: Season II.

What do you do after dancing with Rihanna and Drake? Choreographer Esie Mensah has had her fair share of commercial work, but that hasn't stopped her from asking the tough questions and digging deeper into her artistic practice. Through her Afrofusion dance, she's found a way to honour the weight of our ancestral past while producing ideas towards a radically different future.

My parents sacrificed a lot to come to Canada and I know that. You leave your whole entire family to be in a place where you're by yourself. So it's almost like my duty to say thank you to my parents and then also bring forward their legacy of what it is they've gifted me with in a new way.- Esie Mensah

This dance was a special moment. I had emailed Esie the song "Ingenue" by Bonjay for her to listen to, but she hadn't been able to open it. So when she showed up in our studio and I played it to her for the first time, it was transformative. The dance that followed is what you'll see in this video — and you can literally feel Esie's ancestors inhabiting her entire body.

"I'm proud of this other part of me that's asking me to do more than just dance. I am my ancestors so I have to keep doing the work."

Follow Esie Mensah here.

Eight of Canada's top choreographers share their astonishing moves — and the incredible stories behind why they dance in The Move: Season II. Find out more and stream the full series now on CBC Gem.


Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.