Sister Yvetta uses theatre in all its aspects to create, educate, enlighten and to transform. Her special gift is in using the educational tools that theater employs to add value to students’ lives and cultivate their holistic development. She seeks to uplift the positive role of women in society throughout the diaspora.
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT (1970 – 1990)
Yvetta has been teaching and performing for over forty years from the Lincoln Center in New York, to Yamoussoukro in West Africa. Don’t ask Yvetta to choose between her numerous professional roles as a Director, Producer, Educator, Actress, Choreographer, Consultant or Community Leader and Activist. She will tell you, she plans to use all of the gifts that God has given her.
Yvetta was trained in the arts at the Southeast Academy of Theater and Music in Atlanta, Georgia; the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; and Karamu Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. As a resident professional company member of the Cleveland Playhouse (Cleveland, Ohio), she performed, directed and polished her abundant talents for over eight years (1973 to 1985). While at the Cleveland Playhouse Yvetta reinstated the youth theater “Curtain Pullers” teaching theater and its supporting aspects of music, dance, stage-management, make-up and costume construction.
In 1988 Ms. Eley toured West Africa with the internationally acclaimed choreographer Mr. Chuck Davis of Duke University as part of his African American Dance Ensemble. While in Africa she studied dance and drumming with Rose Marie Giurou in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivorie; Ousmane Sise’ and Mohammed Lamine Sylla in Dakar, Senegal; Sheriffo Konteh and Pa Modou in Banjul, Gambia. Yvetta has also studied African culture and traditions in Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo in West Africa.
MID CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS – (1991 – 2000)
In 1991 Yvetta co-wrote and performed in the critically acclaimed national PBS television series “PANORAMA OF AFRICAN AMERICAN THEATER.” The production toured over 300 schools and colleges and was taped by WVIZ Channel 25 for its educational programming. Her collaborative work, “KITCHEN TABLE U” was produced in 1992 to sold out houses at the Cleveland Public Theater.
A highly skilled educator, she has directed and taught in many prestigious schools, universities and institutions, across Ohio, Indianapolis, Michigan Texas, and in Africa. Yvetta has taught at the Bagamoyao College of Arts and Culture, TaSuba, Tumaini University Makumira, and Nelson Mandela S.T.E.M. Universities in Africa. Among the Ohio schools; Hathaway Brown, Hawken School, Ohio State, Ohio Wesleyan, Baldwin Wallace, Akron University, and Cleveland State University are just some of the academic institutions who have utilized her expertise.
As Director of International Programing with the International Preparatory School, Ms. Eley facilitated student cultural education and travel for ten years to various countries including; Moscow, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Senegal and Brazil.
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
As a Director and Producer, Yvetta has won countless awards and citations including: the American International Film Festival Bronze Award, C.I.N.E Silver Eagle; San Mateo Film Festival Gold Award; Cablevisions Cablecasting Award; two ACE Awards; four Philo T. Farnsworth Awards; the 1990 Ohio Black Expo Cultural Artist of the Year award; and a special commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives. In 1997 the Ohio Theater Alliance recognized her with their most prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” for “her outstanding achievements in theater in the state of Ohio”. In 1999 Ohio’s Governor Taft acknowledged Yvetta and deemed her one of Ohio’s “Unsung Heroes.” In 2015 Cleveland Dance Movement along with the International Association of Blacks in Dance acknowledged Yvetta for her “Enormous contributions to the legacy of Karamu House through dance”. In 2016 Yvetta was awarded the “Silver B. Edutainment” award By Cleveland State University for her excellence and contributions in theater. The list of her special achievements, awards and commendations are numerous and continues to grow. Yvetta ‘s collaborative film ‘Sankofa Solving X” documentary of her students search for their cultural heritage won the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival award for best short film as well as!
COMMUNITY & VOLUNTEER SERVICE – (2001 - Present)
Sister Yvetta is a world traveler and has been to five of the seven continents in her pursuit of cultural enlightenment. From Moscow to Brazil she continues to hone her cultural arts credentials. Ms. Eley recently returned from visiting several cities in Tanzania, East Africa, and South Africa where she taught Cultural classes with the Teaching Artist Institute. Yvetta is an African Griot (master storyteller) and frequently lectures and gives interactive workshops on ‘Teaching and the Arts”. Ms. Eley served as Artistic Director of the Ohio Arts Council sponsored Coordinated Arts Program (CAP), a multicultural, multi-arts program with the Neighborhood Centers Association. Through her leadership CAP became an award-winning arts program that placed over 60 diverse artists within 20 different Neighborhood & Recreation Centers throughout Greater Cleveland and was acknowledged at the White House in Washington, DC by Hillary Clinton as a “Point of Light”.
Yvetta has served on several boards, including four years as a Theater Grant panelist and on-site reviewer in theater for the Ohio Arts Council. Ms. Eley was also appointed special envoy in theater by the Ohio Arts Council to Toronto, Canada. Yvetta served five years both as a panelist and Chair of the Michigan State Arts Councils’ Theater/Opera and Artist-In-Residence review panels. Ms. Eley is currently the President of KenYetta Company, an arts and cultural consultant group extending service to many individuals and institutions in Ohio, Chicago, Baltimore, Michigan and Texas. Yvetta is also Cultural Arts Director of the Garden Valley Neighborhood Center. She serves as an Artist-Educator with Afojabe African Village and as Theater Director of Djapo Cultural Arts Institute. Furthermore, she is proud to be an honorary member of Cleveland’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute.