Dr. Samuel Vezenegho, also known as Samy Vez in the dance world, is the Executive Director and founder of WE CAN DANCE. He earned his PhD in Medical Entomology in 2012 from Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has extensive expertise as an educator and researcher, which he gained from working in various science organizations across Africa, Europe, South America, and the United States. Additionally, he acquired leadership skills under the tutelage of great leaders of research organizations of international importance, and from the interpersonal dynamics of partner dance, and dance instruction in Kizomba and other dances. His passion for dance stems from his native Babanki tradition from Cameroon in West Africa, where important events are memorialized through dancing and community gathering. Even though Samy started dancing to African rhythms at age 5, he was only introduced to Kizomba, Urban Kiz, Salsa and Bachata in 2012 while living in France and French Guiana. The combination of the dance styles, techniques, and pedagogical foundations that he learned from top notch dance instructors, and his teaching experience obtained from academic environments, equipped him to start teaching dance in 2016 at the request of admirers of his unique style.
In 2017, Samuel hosted the Dallas Kizomba Festival, and in 2018, he was a finalist in the elite North American Kizomba Olympiads competition, and finished second in the Urban Kiz category. Shortly after competing in the Kizomba Olympiads, he lost his sight and came to learn from his blind peers, of the daily challenges that they face. In 2019, he taught Kizomba at the State Conference for the National Federation for the Blind – Austin, White Cane Day. The participants expressed their joy and inspiration at the idea that their live could change by continuing to dance Kizomba; which inspired Samuel to create WE CAN DANCE to provide additional opportunities to dance, improve their social skills, and expand their horizons.
Vanessa Yxcea first experienced partner dancing in the late 2000s as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. Vintage waltzing will forever be her first love in dance.
A community builder at heart, she started organizing and teaching fusion partner dance in Dallas in 2017. This same year she first met Samy Vez (while he was still sighted) and attended several of Samy's kizomba classes and socials.
From 2017 until 2020, Vanessa grew the Dallas fusion partner dance community; including hosting Dallas’ first fusion festivals, held in March and September from 2018 until 2020. Samy, and his dance partner at the time, Shawndel, also attended some of Vanessa’s fusion events.
After 3 years of travel across the US and abroad, Vanessa returned to Dallas in 2023 to join the We Can Dance team. As a sighted person, she enjoys dancing blindfolded or with eyes closed. When she learned about the opportunity to help bring accessible dance classes to the visually impaired, she heard a voice in her heart echo back, “I was made for this!”
Vanessa lives in Dallas with her husband and two dragons, err, cats. She enjoys reciting memorized poetry, singing before her meals, and pointing at the moon.
Copyright © 2023 We Can Dance a Nonprofit corporation - All Rights Reserved.