Imani Aanu

Imani is currently a dance director, choreographer and performer with Austin Samba, the largest Brazilian samba dance & drum community in the United States. Imani has been teaching samba for about ten years and is a featured performer in Austin Samba’s major stage shows (e.g. Stateside Theater, Zach Scott Theater and Zilker Hillside Theaters) as well as at Carnival Brasiliero, the nation’s largest indoor carnival celebration. Imani also performs with Bramaya, a West African music and dance ensemble where she drums and dances traditional Guinea styles. She has performed with Lannaya, Roots & Rhythms, and the internationally recognized Drum Cafe. These performances have been a key way for Imani to share her love of dance and have inspired audience members to seek opportunities to experience her as a dance teacher.

Imani is well-versed in a number of different styles of samba, including samba no pe’, samba afro, samba reggae, samba de roda, ijexa, etc. She can modify her teaching style for different goals (e.g. cardio/fitness, fun or performance), and she teaches any/all levels, from beginners to those with more advanced samba experience. Within Austin Samba, Imani leads the dance group called ‘Alegria’ (meaning ‘joy’); this group is made up of beginners with zero dance experience to experienced dance performers. She has also done dance training projects with students at McCallum High School and Pecan Street Elementary and for local corporate clients such as Apple and The Links, Incorporated.

Imani’s philosophy as a dance instructor is to inspire confidence and to motivate each person to have fun, enjoy the gift of movement and suspend any self-judgement. When asked why she enjoys teaching dance, Imani responds, “I love the way we can get so much joy from dancing. And I especially love the way dance classes and community dance groups help us connect with each other while we learn also connect to ourselves by moving our bodies in new ways. I have found that this combination of joy and connection and movement helps us grow in confidence, physical vitality and overall wellness. This type of growth enriches all areas of our lives. And teaching dance gives me the opportunity to help others experience the enrichment, fun and fitness that dance can bring.”