Shakeena President-Beckford was born on the island of Saint Lucia, West Indies; daughter of one of the Island’s prolific dynamic dance duos, Ikeal Francis and Carol Ika President. Shakeena has been dancing since the age of 4 years old and credits her parents for her natural dance ability.
She studied ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance with Madame Theresa Collymore at age seven and soon after joined Les Enfants dance troupe in 1985 at the age of nine. Les Enfants prepared Shakeena for the dance life she was to embark upon after leaving Saint Lucia. The discipline, the awareness of self, the love and appreciation for the artistry. Shakeena performed throughout the Caribbean with Les Enfants dance troupe (St. Martin, Martinique and Jamaica) until the age of 14, when she moved to Chicago, Illinois.
She graduated from Hyde Park Academy in 1994 and since then she studied ballet, contemporary, Jazz, Swing, Hip Hop and West African Dance. She took classes with with Joel Hall (Vanessa Truvillion) Bryant Ballet (Homer Bryant), Coral Reef ensemble (Mama Ika) and Baba Opa (Boot dance), Hyde Park Pom-Pom team, House of Terrell modeling agency (Tanika Chew), Muntu Dance Theatre (Amaniyea Payne).
Shakeena has travelled across the United States with Coral Reef Ensemble (10 years, dancer), studied at Barat College (Bachelor's in Dance Degree), Deeply Rooted Productions Dance Company (Summer Intensive),
Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago (20 years company member/choreographer, now Assistant Director) Alyo Adult Ensemble (3 years company member/choreographer), Ayodele Drum and Dance Company (3 years company member/choreographer), Nunufatima Dance Company, (5 years Assistant Artistic Director/choreographer/dancer), Spiritual Expressions Praise Dance Ministry, (7 years, Artistic Director/dancer).
She also teaches Dance to City of Chicago teens with After School Matters, a non-profit organization that provides life-changing after school and summer program opportunities to 20,000 Chicago high school teens each year. She named her dance program Les Enfants Dance, (after her childhood dance company in Saint Lucia). She is currently the Artistic Director of LED (17years).
Currently, Shakeena is the Assistant Artistic Director of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago. A company that performs authentic and progressive interpretations of contemporary and ancient African and African American Dance, music and folklore in Chicago, Illinois. She has worked with these amazing Choreographers over the years; Amaniyea Payne, Idy Ciss (Muntu Dance Theatre) Arthur Hall (Afro American dance Ensemble) Chuck Davis (African American Dance Ensemble) Kim Yvonne Bears-Bailey (Philadanco), Abdel Salaam (Forces of Nature Dance Company) Moustapha Bangoura (Les Ballets Africains de Guinea) Roseangela Silvestre (Silvestre Dance Technique) and Ronald K. Brown (Evidence) to name a few.
Shakeena was a legal secretary at the Cochran and Montgomery Law firm, (RIP) to the late great Johnnie L. Cochran, Chicago office. She is a certified Aerobics Instructor, 4 time Beauty Pageant winner, Artist/Painter, Model (ILAVA - Rahel Williams) and Hair Stylist. She often reminds herself that the race is not for the swift but to those who can endure till the end.
Idris Daniel is an accomplished drummer and dancer born into a vibrant arts community on Chicago's southside. He developed a love for many styles of African diasporic performing arts at a young age. At the age of 10, he became a founding member of SPIRITS S.O.A., a "Rights of Passage" training program for young men. SPIRITS S.O.A. provided young men with the tools needed to navigate life in inner-city environments by introducing them to traditional and spiritual West African practices. While training with SPIRITS S.O.A., he mastered the sacred west African masquerade and stilt walking technique and learned how to play & repair/build many traditional West African instruments.
Idris began studying with Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago in 1997 under world-renowned director Amaniyea Payne. He has worked with them to develop various programs for After School Matters, Gallery 37, and other organizations teaching the youth in numerous schools throughout the United States. Currently, he serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago.
Over the last 20 years, Idris has expanded his studies of various traditional music forms throughout the African diaspora. Idris travels to Brazil, Senegal, Gambia, Colombia, Cuba, Barbados, and Mexico frequently to train, study, and continuously immerse himself in the culture. He desires to educate and enlighten children in the Chicago inner-city by exposing them to the many contributions that people of the African diaspora have made to the world through dance, music, and other art forms.