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Our Founder and Executive Director

DAVA A. CANSLER received a Bachelor of General Studies with a concentration in Computer and Administrative Science from Kent State University. As a child, she received a tremendous amount of exposure to the arts: dance, visual arts, instrumental, and vocal music. She mastered several musical instruments self-taught, and studied violin under the direction of the late Hyman Schandler, conductor of the Cleveland Womens Orchestra, and member of the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra. It was under Mr. Schandler^s tutelage that Ms. Cansler became a member of the All-City Orchestra, The Supplementary Educational Center Orchestra, The Mount Pleasant Orchestra, and a member of a string ensemble that won numerous awards an recognitions; all between Junior High and High School. As an adult Ms. Cansler ventured down another path that lead her away from the arts: the fall of 1996 began her journey back.

In the fall of 1996, at the suggestion of John W. Walker, Jr., former pastor of Lane Metropolitan CME Church in Cleveland, Ms. Cansler organized the Lane Liturgical Dance Ministry. The initial call netted 5 interested participants. In October the Lane Liturgical Dance Group began receiving instruction from the Duffy Liturgical Dance Studio in Shaker Heights where it^s mission is to preserve the Negro Spiritual in music and movement. From 1996 to 2000 the Lane Liturgical Dance Group performed in the DuffyLit Dance Studio annual recitals and local events around the city and parts of the world.

From January 1997 until November 2000, Ms. Cansler was an active member of the Duffy Liturgical Dance Ensemble, dancing and singing in various productions, most notably, "The Spiritual in Sounds and Images" at Calvary Presbyterian Church, Cleveland, Ohio in 1997; Carnegie Hall in New York at the 1998 WinterFest; The African Sanctus at the Ohio Theatre, Cleveland, Ohio in 1998; The United Methodist Church Jubilee Celebration, Nashville Tennessee in 1999; The 1999 DuffyLit European Performance Tour of Paris France, Geneva Switzerland, and Barcelona Spain; The United Methodist Church General Conference, Cleveland Ohio in 2000; and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney Australia.

In October 2000 Ms. Cansler re-organized the Lane Liturgical Dance Group, renamed it The Followers of David, and opened membership to all who expressed an interest, regardless of religious affiliation or denomination. In 2001 The Followers of David hosted several community based dance workshops, one facilitated by Mr. Terence Greene. In September 2001 Mr. Greene began teaching contemporary modern dance technique to The Followers of David, who now had a membership of 31 active members, ranging in age from 4 to 30.

In February 2002, the idea to expand the dance ministry into other performing arts venues was formulated, and Ms. Cansler founded the community-based Foluké Cultural Arts Center. The word Foluké (Foh LOO^ kay) originates from the West African Region of Nigeria meaning ^Placed in god^s care^. The founding of this arts center was implemented out of a need to provide positive outlets for youth. The Foluké Cultural Arts Center was incorporated in the state of Ohio in February 2003, and received it^s non-profit organization status in May 2003.

"I found my performing experience with the DuffyLit Dance Ensemble to be priceless. These experiences have re-awakened my passion for the arts. I wanted to share my passion and these experiences with youth who may not have the means to take advantage of such an opportunity (performance tours). When I was a teenage my parents divorced leaving me very angry and disillusioned. Fortunately, there was a summer arts program at John Hay High School in 1968, to channel all of that 'energy' into. I played Oboe, Flute and Piccolo in the band, and Violin and String Bass, in the orchestra: I had instrumental music in the morning (sectionals and rehearsals) and visual arts (painting and drawing) and choir in the afternoon. That was the best summer I ever had, and it kept me from becoming a teen statistic. I feel that the Lord blessed me with many talents and placed me on this path to utilize them."

Ms. Cansler has received instruction in non-profit management through The Cleveland Foundation and Foundation Center, and is currently a member of the 2016 Class of the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute (CAELI). She has served as Program Administrator for Cleveland School of the Arts Summer Dance Intensives (2005, 2006). She is currently a Central Promise Ambassador representing the Central Promise Neighborhood. Under her direction Foluke Cultural Arts has become: A member of Cleveland Neighborhood Arts (CNA), a Cleveland Foundation sponsored collaborative of neighborhood arts organizations; A Promise Neighborhood Partner; a member of the Cleveland Arts Education Consortium; A member of The National Guild for Community Arts Education; a member of the Catalyzing Creative Aging Institute; and a member of The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD). Ms. Cansler is also a 2016 Community Arts Education Leadership Institute (CAELI) Alum, and receives ongoing professional development from the Youth Works Institute at Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Business Management.  In 2019 Ms. Cansler was one of seven Executive Directors nationwide chosen to receive the 2019 Milestone Award for excellence and dedication in Arts Education programming from the National Guild for Community Arts Education.