Nii was born into a family of kings and king-makers. From earliest memories, he remembers people coming from far and wide to play for the royal households. Living and breathing the music, tradition and culture was part of everyday life. His particular fascination and uncanny ability to mimic movement was an inhereted gift that he pursued from the age of 3. He was surrounded by master drummers and dancers including his grandmothers, uncles and aunts who taught and encouraged him. He disliked formal education knowing that what he was gaining from his roots was a richness that could not be found anywhere else.
Nii arrived in Britain in 1990 as a principal performer and teacher with the Adzido Pan African Dance Ensemble, founded by George Dzikunu in 1984. At that time Adzido was one of the UK’s only large scale black dance companies. They toured productions extensively around the world. His immersion in the diverse dance and rhythmic traditions of Ghana marked Nii as one of the most talented in the company despite being one of the youngest. He continued to grow his knowledge base of traditional styles, following his longing to learn across Afirca. This dedication gave him a meticulous eye for different postures, gestures and styles. Many global stages, street and TV appearances later Nii was ready to embark on a new journey creating his own company.
In 1993 Nii founded his company Frititi which means ‘ancient’ in the Akan language of Ghana. At a time where many African traditional styles are diluted, homogenized and often uncredited, Frititi looks to honour the great spirit and ancestry of African music and dance by dedicating time to study and respect the different dances from the African continent and the people who are the keepers of this knowledge. Looking back on a rich cultural heritage, Frititi empowers the next younger generations with traditional artistic expressions using music, dance, poetry and ritual. Naturally, this will propel a positive image of Africa and help dispel the myths and negative stereotypes of the African continent.
Adzido Pan-African Dance Ensemble
Nii’s mission is to raise the awareness of Africa's place as the cradle of man-kind, respectfully drawing on rich and abundant histories, wisdoms and cultures to empower people back to the roots, the Motherland
Nii's dedication to dance goes hand in hand with his creativity and choreography. As well as creating pieces for Adzido and Frititi he has also choreographed for Patti Boulaye’s Sundance at The Royal Albert Hall, The Eurovision Song Contest, Peter Gabriel’s Millennium Dome Floor Show, ‘The Jungle Book’ in Dubai, the Enthronement of Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Enthronement of Archbishop Justin Welby, as well as creating original material for ADAD, Shikisha and African Headcharge.
In 2005, working with the late Bernard Bruchet, Nii embarked on a groundbreaking project in conflict resolution to create a historic performance with Congolese 'rebels' in Brazzaville for the ‘Fespam’ festival. Drawing on his extensive teaching experience, Nii worked with dancers from opposing rebel forces to unite them through the common language of music and dance. Hopeful participants came from the hills to audition armed with guns and machetes. After many auditions and six-week of intensive training, the project culminated in a captivating show, charting the history of mankind in Africa with over 200 dancers who previously would have been fighting one another. It was a huge success and a massive achievement in the area of conflict resolution. Nii and Frititi were invited back to Brazzaville to choreograph the 2007 African Football Youth Championship’s opening ceremony.
Nii brings to all his work his wisdom and experience from Adzido and Frititi. He has also spent many years training in Kung Fu. He continues to spread his great love of African arts and culture throughout the world, teaching regular classes in London with Frititi and his company Sankofa in Singapore.
For more information about upcoming classes please visit the events section. If you are interested in booking Nii to teach please visit the Teaching page.