Tonya Pennie

Tonya Pennie

Managing Director / Booking / Dancer

Tonya Pennie is an artist and Houston native who currently calls Austin, TX home. Her practice focuses on drum and dance of West Africa and the African Diaspora. She’s performed with Lannaya since 2006, and since 2012 she’s been Lannaya’s Managing Director, booking and producing Lannaya’s educational and performance opportunities.  In 2014 Tonya founded Dance Africa Fest, a workshop and performance series celebrating Diasporic dance throughout the world. Her training began with South African songs and dance with Dimakatso “Mama D”/Janet Hampton of the international touring musical Ipi Ntombe, and Lindi Yeni with Houston-based Kuumba House Dance Theatre; she toured nationally with Kuumba House Dance Theatre. Tonya’s studied traditional West African dance and songs with Naby Bangoura, Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyaté, Youssouf Koumbassa, Moustapha Bangoura, Moussa Diabate, and Jean-Claude Lessou among many others. She continues to train in Suzuki, Viewpoints, dances of the Diaspora, Kalaripayat; she partners regularly with fellow artists. Recent performances include beauty, a four-hour public endurance piece exploring women’s relationships to each other and to their hair, conceived by Wura Natasha-Ogunji; Drumtalk: Between Skin and Frame, a convergence of song, dance, spoken word, call and response, storytelling, and voicescape developed by t. negresco lyles. Tonya directed and performed with Lannaya in Esprit 2015-The Spirits of Rhythm, a 50+ cast collaborative production with Tapestry Dance Company, one of the world’s few full-time tap dance companies. She anticipates continuing her studies through immersion in Africa, 2017-2018, to engage in an in-depth examination of rhythmic traditions, dance technique and cultural history. She is a recipient of 2016 and 2017 City of Austin Cultural Arts Division – Cultural Heritage Festival Program grant awards. Tonya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication from Houston’s Texas Southern University.