P. Amaniyea Payne has built an impressive thirty year career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. She studied extensively with groups including National Dance Company of Senegal, International Afrikan-American Ballet, Ballet D'Afrique Noire De Toubacouta and Djolibah & Les Ballet Africans from Guinea. Payne has worked with seminal African dance artists such as Baba Ishangi Razak, Djibril Gueye, Assane Konte, Arthur Hall and former Muntu Artistic Directors Alyo Tolbert and Abdoulaye Camara. She also studied with African American dance experts including Frankie Manning, Micki Davison, Lenwood Sloane, Pepsi Bethel and Norma Miller as well as dance artists from Costa Rica, Brazil, Columbia, Cuba and South Africa.
Payne began her tenure as Muntu's Artistic Director in 1987, after serving as guest choreographer, setting the work "African Swing" on the Company. Since that time she has been the principal architect of the company's technical growth, expanded repertory and national reputation. She has brought to the Company a commitment to authentic presentations of traditional African dance and a vision of developing and nurturing new work rooted in African, African American and Caribbean traditions.
Her signature works with Muntu include "Through Mandela's Eyes," "Yanga," and 2011's "Roff," a collaboration with Assistant Artistic Director Idy Ciss. Her style is centered in natural rhythmic movements based in and informed by traditional African dance and movement of the African Diaspora, with an emphasis on the Caribbean, as well as traditional jazz and dance theater.
Payne's many credits include touring with productions of Cab Calloway, Stevie Wonder, Redd Foxx, John Hendricks and Lindy Hop innovators Mama Lu Parks and Norma Miller. Her choreographic credits include the production ''Black Heroes and the Hall of Fame,'' which later toured the United States and England, and the restaging of Oscar Brown Jr.'s award winning musical ''The Great Nitty Gritty.'' She is included in dance documentaries produced by Nippon Television (Japan NY), by the BBC and has received the prestigious Ruth Page award two times, in 1994 for Dance Achievement and in 2001 for Lifetime Service.