One of the great joys of being a part of the entertainment scene is crossing paths with a seemingly endless supply of talented artists. My specialty has always been with musicians, but every now and then I come across other types of artists along the way that truly intrigue me.
This was the case with Erico Ansuade, whom I met a few summers back, as he and Slyboots founder Griffin Brady were performing at an outdoor gathering at Larkin Square. I was on a ‘scouting mission’ that day, which usually includes vino and some good friends. We weren’t sure what type of entertainment to expect that day, but there they were, a white guy playing authentic African percussion instruments, and an African dude doing acrobatic type of traditional dancing. It was almost like a busking type of performance, and I was quickly drawn in to what I was witnessing. It was yet another ‘I can’t believe this exists in Buffalo’ moment, although these days I should not be so surprised anymore considering everything that’s happning in the performance arts realm.
Erico, also known as ‘African Warrior’ began dancing at the age of 8 in his native Ghana, in West Africa. “My sister motivated me. At Christmas she put up a prize for the kids. The best dancer won,” he tells me. He was a natural at dancing and performing. It would eventually take him all around the world, and his abilities expanded to include acrobatics, juggling, fire eating, etc. The fire breathing was learned in Ghana. “Not anyone can do that with fire, we do it naturally without spirituality like in voodoo.”
By the time he was 19, he made a name for himself in Ghana, winning several dance competitions, and in 2009 becoming the runner up in the national dance championship in Ghana. As a professional dancer and acrobat, he had the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, and even study in China for a year in a program funded by the Ghanean government. His experience has also allowed him to be fluent in 6 languages.
We met recently to chat about his life as a performer, and I asked him about his experience in America, most notably in Buffalo. What brought him to America? “The art, the performing. Musicians from Ghana, they brought me here,” he said. He told me about his early experiences here, first in New York City, then Syracuse, NY. “I was invited to perform in Monticello, NY. That’s where I met Griffin. They saw what I can do and they liked it. That’s when Griffin brought me here. That was 3 years ago,” Erico recalled.
Erico volunteers with The Slyboots School of Music, Arts, and Dance. They will be hosting Slyfest Fundraiser at Buffalo Iron Works next Thursday December 15. The funds will go towards the operational costs of the school. Erico will be one of the feature performers of the evening. More on Slyboots here.
I strongly urge you to attend, you will not be disappointed. Erico is a special talent and a wonderful person. His skills as a gifted performer add an exciting dimension to the cultural and entertainment options one can find in Buffalo.
Photos: Bill Dorsey