Dancer and choreographer Ousmane Wiles already has a decade of experience in New York’s ballroom culture, but still shows up on lists of its exciting young talent. Maybe it’s his energy, his creativity, and (yes) his youthful good looks. Currently working with band/arts collective/ballroom house Shirley House, Wiles has also trained with ballroom legends The House of Mizrahi. It’s at that last place he got his official ballroom name, Omari Mizrahi. Born in Senegal, Wiles has created his own style of dance, “AfrikFusion,” which combines traditional African dances, Afrobeat styles, House dance and Vogue.
What drew you to dance? If you were describing your work, would you call yourself a dancer and choreographer, or would you put it another way?
My Parents being Teachers & Performing artists. Their passion for the arts drew me to want to create my own as a dancer and choreographer! I not only value the styles, or the way a dance looks, but also its the history of its origin and reason. I am an educator.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
I’m currently teaching at Broadway Dance Center and pushing forward my own creative work, AfrikFusion which is a blend of West African, Vogue and House dance. In a given day, you’ll find me teaching a class running an after school program in Harlem, choreographing for Innovative Artiste and supporting and competing alongside my Ballroom family as the Emperor of the Legendary House of Mizrahi.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
What I find most fulling about my work is having students come to me with a better understanding of their bodies and dance styles [and learning] the history behind the movements.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
Dancing for Artist Jidenna at the MTV’S VMAs and receiving 2017 top 25 to Watch in Dance Magazine! My greatest challenge is putting together work that’s meant to bring people of all cultures together in a time where division is commonly seen.
What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?
I hope to see more teachers working together to bring all dancers and all styles under one vision, to create and welcome each other’s strengths and weaknesses! Allowing the beauty in our differences to cultivate the arts and inspire young artists. Continue to make life in our art truly and honestly!
Who would you nominate for this list?
[Dance and music collective] Shirley House.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.