If you can’t beat the heat, join it. We’re dancing every Tues & Thurs!

We now have TWO Weekly Classes in Portland: 

Beginner classes on Tuesdays, July 15- September 16th, 5:45pm @ the Woodford’s Club


All-levels classes on Thursdays (on-going), 7:15pm with live drumming @ Maine Ballroom Dance Studio


Photos from our amazing workshops with Youssouf Koumbassa last month, coming soon.

Exciting West African Dance Opportunities Coming Soon

A very special guest & my beloved teacher, Youssouf Koumbassa, will return here on June 20th, to teach an all-levels dance class @ the Mechanic’s Hall!


Youssouf brings incredible talent, breath-taking dancing and masterful teaching to this experience.

Live drumming in gorgeous Guinean rhythms will be provided by special guest drummers from Guinea – Namory Keita, Abdoulaye Toure- and beyond.

This is guaranteed to be a summer highlight!

Friday, June 20th, 2014, 6:00-7:30pm,

Mechanic’s Hall, 519 Congress St., 3rd floor, Portland, ME

$16 advance*/ $20 day of  

Additional opportunities to take drum and dance classes with Youssouf & Namory in Kittery, Maine on June 19th & 22nd, and Cambridge, MA, June 23rd. 

*Find out how to pre-register (by pre-paying) for Yousouf’s classes & sign up for the carpool to Kittery in either of our local classes or contact me.

I can’t wait to share this experience with you! 

Youssouf Koumbassa is returning to Portland, ME!

SAVE THE DATE ~ Friday, June 20th, 2014

Master dancer and teacher, Youssouf Koumbassa, is returning to Portland for a West African Dance workshop with live drumming lead by special guest, Namory Keita on djembe!

All levels are welcome ~ Youssouf makes class very accessible and always an unforgettable experience. Come dance with this amazing teacher and total treasure of a human being!


6-7:30pm @ the Mechanic’s Hall 519 Congress St, 3rd floor.

$16 in advance / $20 day of class

 Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

Click HERE and contact me to pre-register & please spread the word.        

See you there! 

Dancing to the Sun and Moon

I feel as though I am writing to you from a mountaintop high in the clouds as I revel in the joy of the amazing production on April 19th.

Bakunda (We Love) was a night of cross-cultural dance, music, spoken word and imagery that truly seems to have inspired feelings of resilience and awareness of interconnectivity in the community it brought together. 

Here are a few sweet snippets from the show, captured by Tony Castro (my wonderful dad)~








Spoken Word Poetry


Interweaving the Dances


Adding Layers




Members of Olas


Djundjun Dance

IMG_5416 cropped

Djundjun Dance


Our Drummers!


An Ensemble of Amazing Women

We are so grateful to all who shared in this very special evening and hope some day to share it again for those who missed it.

I am really excited for our upcoming new Tuesday night class, starting May 13th! I’ve had a strong response to the offering of a beginner class and can’t wait to spread the love of this dance form further.

This will also be a great opportunity for Thurs night dancers to hone in on strengthening and alignment techniques that support us in this dance and to return to the essence of the groove.

TUESDAY night classes will carry through for 8 weeks, May 13th – July 1st (and we’ll see where to go from there). During the month of May we’ll dance Kuku, a wonderful celebration dance from the Susu people of Guinea. FMI on the Tuesday class please scroll down to the post from April 23rd or click this link HERE.

THURSDAY night classes will continue as usual, accompanied by live drumming by our fantastic band. This month we are honoring the energy and rapid footwork of the dance, Sorsornet, from the Baga people of Guinea.

Stay tuned for an announcement about special guests, Youssouf Koumbassa~ master dancer, teacher &  and Namory Keita~ master drummer, both from La Guinea, West Africa. I’m working on bringing them back for workshops in Portland in the month of June!!

In Peace & Community

New Class for Beginners!

I am so pleased to finally be able to respond to the demand for a “true, blue beginner” oriented West African Inspired Dance Class ~ Join us for this upcoming 8 week session!


Tuesdays, May 13th – July 1st, 2014, 7:30pm

at Portland Yoga Studio

dance class

If you have friends who’ve always wanted to try out a class, please spread the word for this new Tuesday night session!

Location & Time:
The lovely Portland Yoga Studio, 616 Congress St. on the 3rd floor.
7:30-8:45pm, Tuesdays, May 13 – July 1st.
See below for important studio details.*
What to Expect:
Each class will begin with a warm up, stretching and isolating many of the various muscles put to use with this dance form. I will then break down the movements of the dance and we’ll work them out across the floor.  We’ll dance to some beautiful recordings from Guinea, Mali, Senegal and more!!
Wear comfortable clothing that you can move and stretch and sweat in, bring a water bottle and plan to dance barefoot or in supportive dance shoes only (no street shoes on the studio floor).
We’ll have lots of fun!
Early Bird Discount: Pre-register for the 8 week series by April 30th ~ $80
Pre-register for the 8 week series before May 13th ~ $96
Pre-register for 4 classes ~ $48
Drop-ins welcome ~ $14/class

To pre-register, please contact me for info by clicking this link: Embody the Rhythm

*Portland Yoga Studio Details:
  • Students may enter the studio starting at 7:15pm to prepare for class (no earlier, please). Please be quiet when entering as there will be a yoga class completing at this time. There is an entrance area and changing rooms/bathrooms off of the entrance.
  • You may use available parking spots marked for Portland Yoga Studio only behind the building, but you must have a PYS sticker on your dashboard or on your vehicle and be out no later than 9:15pm. Stickers are available in the entrance room to the studio. Please note, use of these spaces is only during class attendance and cars will be towed if being used outside of class time. Also since there are classes before ours the spaces may be taken already until the previous students vacate. You’ll want to plan accordingly.
Please help me to spread the word, and share this with your friends, sisters, brothers, etc!  See you on the dance floor!


Celebrating Women, Through Dance

Happy Spring!!!

Last month was International Women’s month (and March 8th was International Women’s Day). I suppose some could say this dance is coming a little behind schedule, but it’s always a great time to celebrate the amazing women of the world!

We’ll carry the celebration on into the month of April with a women’s dance from the Susu people of Guinea, called Yokí, or Guinea Faré (women’s dance). 



A simple wish ~ May all woman of the world be loved, respected, supported … and receive hand-picked flowers from special admirers! In fact, may all the men of the world, be blessed with the same.


Bakunda (We Love)

Bakunda (We Love) is a very special performance that is coming up next month and we are so excited to share it!

It is my pleasure to invite our drum and dance community to this production, which is the culminating project of my studies at Goddard College. I’ve been blessed to be joined by a wonderfully talented group of performing artists, some of whom you will certainly recognize!

Photo credit: Arthur Fink

Photo credit: Arthur Fink

Please join us Saturday, April 19th at 7pm ~

Bakunda (We Love) weaves together an original blend of Flamenco, B’Inganzo, West African, Contemporary, Step
Dance and Spoken Word to highlight resilience and interconnection with one another and with the rest of the natural world.

Portland HS Auditorium, 284 Cumberland Ave.
Tickets at bakunda.brownpapertickets.com or At the door (Doors 6:30)
Adults $10 advance/$12 door, Children $6

Energetic and graceful dancers Alicia Yip, Lydia Bakunda, Marita Kennedy-Castro, Bianca Abdalla & Lindsey Bourassa (shown in photo from left to right) will provide the heartbeat of the show.

Sontiago (Sonya Tomlinson) heads up the poetic verses, accompanied by Zahro Hassan and Maryan Hassan.  Annegret Baier, Jeff Howe, Janice Erickson & Sandra Benson provide West African drumming and members of Olas Music & Dance, Chriss Sutherland, Leif Sherman-Curtis, Molly Angie & Anna Giamaios contribute guitar, palmas and vocals. Additional fabulous dancers include Alpha Castro, Megu Hirayama, Erica Alt and Sontiago!

If you know any of these artists, you’ll know this is to be quite a special one-time event!
Please help spread the word (this is a facebook link) ~ Thank you!

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