BAM Affiliation Jacqueline Coban Martin, aka Mommy, Odusinya, Agba, Grandma, Great grandma, Iya Jackie and Iya Olorisa born to Mary Grace Whitaker and Robert Festus Martin in the South Bronx Patterson Projects educated in the South Bronx and Manhattan. Mama Jacqueline’s love of education has earned her an AAS Degree at Hostos Community, BS at Herbert H. Lehman and her MS in Elementary Education with Distinctions from Mercy College. Retiring from the Board of Education after 27 years of service to the community and her students.
Her Dancing experiences began with her father at home, then in Junior HS under the direction of MS. Betty Scott. During the summer of 1964 at Berger Junior HS Summer Action Theatre Program, she informed Ms. Scott of her interest in learning African dance and Ms. Scott brought Chuck Davis to the program. From that moment on she was hooked and the Chuck Davis Dance Company under the management of Ms. Betsy Pruitt was formed in 1966.
Mama Jackie’s dance experiences as one of the original members of the Chuck Davis Dance Company enabled her to travel throughout the United States and work as an artist performing in various venues. She has taught academics through movement through the Artists in Schools program, teaching in Afterschool programs throughout the city servicing children and adults, PAL, Jungle Habitat, Great Adventures, Senior Citizens Centers, Lincoln Center, Town Hall and the first Dance Africa at BAM in 1977. Mama Jackie has shared the stage with such greats as the renowned Mariam Makeba, Stevey Wonders, the International Ballet of Guinea and so many more.
Mama Jacqueline sits on the board of the Council of Elders for BAM Dance Africa and the Council of Elders for African Cultural Heritage, founding member of the Omo Obatala Egbe Inc., and has received numerous mentions and awards from the City Council, State Assembly, Office of the Borough of Brooklyn, the Police Athletic League, Board of Education and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC for her countless work with youth and seniors throughout the five boroughs and beyond. She continues to share her wisdom with her family and communities near and far. With all that she does, Mama Jackie still likes to just “Keep It Simple.”