Sunday, November 28, 2021
Lula Washington Dance Theatre and More Welcomed Katy Toave, Teacher and Performer of Forbidden Dance Maloya To Los Angeles for the First Time Ever
By Saybin Roberson, Contributing Writer
Published November 14, 2019

Katy Toave, 46, of Reunion Island (Courtesy Photo)

For the first time, Los Angeles and the KMBA Agency, Cheryl Stone & Associates, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Africans in America and BollypopLA, United States welcomed Dance Maloya, a sacred and forbidden slave dance of Reunion Island in.

Led by Katy Toave, Maloya was taught in various sessions throughout L.A. for the first time in October. Toave, a native of Reunion Island located in the Indian Ocean, and dancer brought the once forbidden dance across the world to keep her culture alive and share the stories told through dance and song.

Toave, 46, says her first mission is to keep the culture and dance alive. So far, she’s been to Australia, Europe, and Africa teaching her history, a history that was once banned due to its strong connection to Creole culture.


“It is the first language of my music. Maloya is not just dance, it’s a culture,” Toave who has been actively dancing and teaching for over 20 years says. Continuing, “It’s one for me.”

Dance class held at Lula Washington Dance Theatre during Toave’s visit to Los Angeles (Courtesy Photo)

As a child she learned the dance in the Island’s dance school for Maloya, “it’s a traditional dance, we learn generation by generation,” she explained. While banned, Maloya could not be performed in public until the ’80s, currently, however, it was still taught throughout the community.

“We are a very little island and we have a lot of cultures. My first mission is to keep it alive, make a transmission with other generations and make a transmission all around the world so everybody knows it exists.”

As this was the first appearance in Los Angeles and the first-ever in the United States, Toave taught over 10 classes to both adults and kids. Responses to the class were full of excitement as many showed up and made a full connection to the dance and history.

“It’s the biggest market we can touch with our culture, I think if we can introduce this while we are here, we can win something for my country,” Toave says of traveling to the U.S. for the first time, which she says she wants to make a return “as many times as possible,” with a laugh.

Simangavole group performing Maloya live (Courtesy Photo)

A woman of many skills, Toave can dance, play percussion and sing the songs of Maloya. In Reunion Island, she has a band, Simangavole, which is an all-woman band that travels the world performing. As a performer, she always holds workshops before performing to teach the dance and culture.

As the dance was once forbidden, Toave takes pride in her efforts to implement Maloya. “Now we try to incorporate [Maloya] into education,” adding the second aspect of her mission is to, “formalize the teaching of Maloya.”

In the future, Katy Toave and her team are looking for ways to share the history, culture, and dance across the world while keeping the ownership within the Black culture.


To learn more about Katy Toave and Maloya visit

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