Gene Toney


Gene is one of Trinidad and Tobago’s foremost dancers, a choreographer, and troupe leader. He got involved in dancing around the time of the twin island state’s achievement of political independence from Great Britain in 1962. With the advent of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Competition in the ’60s, the Harding Place Cocorite Youth Movement was formed, and Gene embedded himself in its artistic life, particularly dance, under the leadership of the now-deceased Carlton Francis.

Through this activity, he became acquainted with some of Trinidad’s leading dancers such as: Jean Coggins, Julia Edwards, and Neville Shepherd with whom Gene performed and toured before forming his own troupe, the Ujamaa Folk Performers in 1972. Under the guidance of Gene, Ujamaa toured the Caribbean, the United States, Canada, Venezuela, and other places, performing numerous Caribbean dances including the Bele, Pique, Joropo, and the Limbo. Ujamaa has won the national limbo competition on multiple occasions.

Limbo Dance from Ken Archer on Vimeo.

In recent years Gene, together with his wife, Rosanna Toney, has taken his talents to Brooklyn New York, and assisted in the transmission of the knowledge and performance of these Caribbean dance forms among the youth, particularly those of Caribbean parentage. He has worked in the youth programs of the Sesame Flyers organization, helping to develop their dance troupe and artistic programs in general. He continues to share his cultural gifts by participation in the steelband movement, mas’ making and performance, and calypso singing.

African Dance from Ken Archer on Vimeo.

By Ken Archer

I am an ethnomusicologist, who obtained my doctoral degree at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. My areas of interests include the musical, ritual, and celebratory traditions of the circum-Caribbean and the African Diaspora.

I worked as a lecturer at the Columbus and Marion Campuses of the Ohio State University, where I taught classes in World Music, Rock and Roll/American Popular Music, Western Art Music, and directed the OSU Steel Pan ensemble.