T. Ayo Alston headshot

T. Ayo Alston

Dancer & Drummer

T. Ayo Alston teaches and practices a signature theatrical style of West African drum and dance culture that captures the strength and power of women and community. Ayo is the founder, executive director, composer, and choreographer of Ayodele Drum and Dance, a performance training organization created for women to affirm their self-confidence and strength. Through Ayodele, she has performed, educated, fostered interpersonal healing, and created artistic work from a foundation of traditional African cultures fused with contemporary dance styles. 

Throughout her career Ayo has taught, choreographed, and performed at schools and universities locally and nationally, as well as in African and Brazilian countries, as an independent artist and as a member of other companies and organizations, such as Dance Africa, Drum Cafe West, Le Bagatae Company of Guinea, Les Ballets Africans, and Muntu Dance Theatre.

In the last two years Ayo has been focused on fine-tuning and sharing her ability to compose music on African instruments, such as the kalimba. This resulted in her accepting a role as a lead actress in and musical composer for Mies Julie at Victory Gardens Theater and as a composer and musician for The Lion King Jr. at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). 

Ayo serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago and on the Dance faculty at Chicago High School of the Arts. She also has developed drum and dance programs that are thriving in prestigious schools, such as Jones College Prep and Walter Payton College Prep, where Ayodele has trained dancers to teach and gain professional artistic skills and experience. 

As Ayo passes on her artistic experience and excellence to others, she honors, respects, and expresses tremendous gratitude for her own teachers, including Youssouf Koumbassa, Mouminatou Camara, Baba Chuck Davis, Jawolle Willa Zollar, Rosangela Sylvestre, her mother Sarah, her sisters, women around the world, and LIFE!

Featured Artworks

  •  T. Ayo Alston artwork T. Ayo Alston teaching youth at Ayodele Drum & Dance
  •  T. Ayo Alston artwork T. Ayo Alston performing with Ayodele Drum & Dance
  •  T. Ayo Alston artwork Ayodele Drum & Dance Ensemble Photo: Tamiko Jones
  •  Six women wearing white stand on a stage playing drums slung around their waists, with colorful lighting in the background Ayodele Drum & Dance Photo: Marc Monaghan
  •  T. Ayo Alston artwork T. Ayo Alston performing with Ayodele Drum & Dance Photo: Marc Monaghan
  •  T. Ayo Alston artwork T. Ayo Alston performing with Ayodele Drum & Dance Photo: Marc Monaghan
  •  A group of 20 children dancing in a gymnasium, following the directions of instructor T. Ayo Alston at the front of class T. Ayo Alston leading a youth class at Ayodele Drum & Dance Photo: Ambe'r Johnson

T. Ayo Alston has crowd-funded a project with 3AP

  • Face to Face

    • $7,000 raised of $5,000 goal
    • 0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
      • 3Arts matched
      • 140% funded

    As the Founding Artistic Director of Ayodele Drum & Dance, I am organizing a study trip for members of our youth ensemble to travel to Ivory Coast in West Africa in 2021. Youth rarely have positive reinforcements to understand how …

    Read more about Face to Face