Dancing to Remember

Click Here for our Schedule of Weekly Classes

Come join the fun ~ We begin a new dance every month!

Freshly inspired by the incredible master teachers at Camp Fareta (annual West African dance and drum camp in California), I am excited to share Gumbé on Tuesdays this month, and Soli on Thursday nights.

Dance Class.Camp Fareta

Marita dancing at Camp Fareta – Photo by Dawn Cerf

Dance Class2.Camp.Fareta

Dancing at Camp Fareta – Photo by Dawn Cerf

This month I am dancing in honor and remembrance of our beloved teacher, Abdoulaye Sylla, who has so recently left this world. I am still stunned that he has passed, and give thanks for having been able to see and dance with him again, just a few weeks ago.

Abdoulaye had an incredible, lively spirit and energy. May he rest in peace, love, respect and harmony ~  the things he wished for everyone in the world ~ and may his spirit live on.

Dancing with Abdoulaye Sylla - Photo by Dawn Cerf

Dancing with Abdoulaye Sylla – Photo by Dawn Cerf

Abdoulaye Sylla2.Camp Fateta

Dancing with Abdoulaye Sylla – Photo by Dawn Cerf

Abdoulaye Sylla - Photo by Dawn Cerf

“Peace, love, respect, and harmony for everybody – Unity. Together. One.” ~ Abdoulaye Sylla (Photo by Dawn Cerf)

At Camp Fareta there are both beginner classes and intermediate/advanced classes in dancing and drumming every day, all day long.

There is a kid’s camp, offering amazing activities for the young ones while their parents take classes, the food is was delicious local, organic and made with love, the community is international, warm, open and beautiful.

I’d love to get a big group from Maine to come along next year!!

Photographer Dawn Serf captured the energy of the dance and drum classes so beautifully. Check out more of her beautiful photos at this link ~ Joyful West African Dancers at Camp Fareta 2015.

See you on the dance floor!

With love and gratitude.

Dancing from Coast to Coast

 Click Here for our Dance & Drum Class Schedule

Portland is still buzzing from Mini Guinea Fest 

One of the highlights was the celebration of Namory Keita’s move to Portland, and the moment Youssouf Koumbassa, Sayon Camara and Abou Sylla gave their blessings for his move here, and bestowed him to the Maine community. 

Our honored guests rocked the house with their incredible performances, including Theo Martey and Youssouf Koumbassa busting up the dance floor!

Namory Keita

It is truly a gift to have Namory in Maine. If you haven’t gotten to one of his drum classes yet, now’s a great time to start! New students always welcome. Every Tuesday 7:15pm, 179 Woodford St. in Portland.

See more beautiful moments from Mini Guinea Fest 2015, HERE

The month of June brought more special performances to Portland, including Seacoast West African Dance & Drum hosted by the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project at Old Port Festival on June 13~

Old Port Festival 2015

And Portland’s Blue Moon Tribe, hosted by Friends of Congress Square Park for the Heart of Community Placemaking Launch on June 24 ~

This week I’m gearing up to head out to CA to study with master teachers Moustapha Bangoura, Abdoulaye Sylla, Djeneba Sako, Marie Basse-Wiles, Mabiba Baegne & Aziz Faye, Youssouf Koumbassa and many more, at Camp Fareta

Camp Fareta, Dancing Village Productions

I’ll be building connections to bring more master artists to Maine in the future. I’m excited to bring back some wonderful energy to share with this community!

Come dance with me in class this Tuesday, June 30th, before I go.

There will be *no class in Portland Thursday July 2nd* ~ It’s a great night to pop down to Kittery for drum class with Namory Keita and dance class with Elizabeth Fowler and Seacoast West African Dance & Drum

All other Portland classes are on, as usual.

We will have some wonderful subs for Tuesday classes (Janice Erickson) and Thursday class (Ashley Edmondson), until I return in mid July. Have so much fun with these lovely teachers! 

Reminder: Now is the time to sign up for Dundun Dance and Fire Dancing Workshops in July & August. More details in last months blog (scroll down) or at the Facebook links provided below.

Click the class name for more info:


Dundun Dance Workshop Series 

Fire Poi Dancing ~ A Beginner’s Series 


Heating it Up!

Click Here for our Dance & Drum Class Schedule

Visit our PHOTO GALLERY from MINI GUINEA FEST (linked here) ~ We had a fantastic time! 

Many more drum and dance performances coming right up ~ In addition to Mini Guinea Fest, Blue Moon Tribe (Portland’s West African inspired Dance & Drum ensemble)  members also performed at the June First Friday Art Walk event, Converge.

Photo by Jaime O'Sullivan

Blue Moon Tribe dances & drums in the evening sun at First Friday Art Walk

Photo by Martha Thompson


Saturday June 14th, 4pm at Portland’s Old Port Festival ~ Marita Kennedy-Castro will join Seacoast West African Dance & Drum for a performance lead by djembefola Namory Keita, and dancer Elizabeth Fowler.
Wednesday June 24th, 4-5pm at Congress Square Park ~ Join Namory Keita, Annegret Baier, Jeff Howe, Marita Kennedy-Castro and many more drummers & dancers, for performances followed by a free mini dance lesson and chance to get your groove on to some fantastic rhythms!
Performing arts are helping to keep this park a vibrant and active asset to our community. We hope you can join us!
Blue Moon Tribe performs for Learning Works at Riverton School

Blue Moon Tribe performs for Learning Works at Riverton School



~ Dance class for beginners, Tuesdays @ Woodford’s Club, 5:45pm Facebook Link
~ DRUM classes for all-levels every Tuesday at the Woodford’s Club, 7:15pm.
~ Dance class for all-levels, Thursdays @ Maine Ballroom, 7:15pm. Facebook Link
*All classes are on-going throughout the summer, with the exception of Thursday July 2nd (no class on this date).

~ SUMMER DANCE INCENTIVE: Dance more, pay less ~

8 class pass* for $96 (Good for 3 months, June-August!)
4 class pass* $52 (Good for 2 months from purchase)
Drop in $15
*Class passes are designated to either Tuesday or Thursday location, but cannot be transferred. 
 *All classes are on-going throughout the summer, with the exception of Thursday July 2nd (no class on this date).

DUNDUN DANCE WORKSHOP SERIES ~ Drum & Dance with 5 Gallon Buckets:

Do you like to dance AND to drum?
In this workshops series participants will learn the exciting Guinean tradition of Dundun Dance ~ dancing and drumming together! We will use easily accessible buckets as drums.
We’ll play a series of rhythms and movement sequences, which will all come together in a fun choreography.
Blue Moon Tribe dundun dancing in Bakunda. Photo by Arthur Fink

Blue Moon Tribe dundun dancing in Bakunda. Photo by Arthur Fink

bucket drum

Blue Moon Tribe bucket drumming to promote Garbage to Garden, door to door compost service

In leu of a dun dun drum, bring a 5 gallon bucket and drumsticks (or inquire about reserving one – limited number available). Opportunity to perform, for those who are interested!

(Pre-registration required by July 15th ~ Contact Marita here to register)
$60 for 4 Wednesdays: July 22, 29, Aug 5 & 12 
5:30-6:30pm (Location TBA with registration. Planning for outdoor location with indoor back up in case of rain)
Share & Link to Facebook here


Fire Dancing ~ A Beginners Series (no fire required)
Participants will use practice sets of poi (limited number provided, very easy to make yourself) and learn basic to advanced skills and tricks in fire poi /fire dance.
Final workshop includes a tutorial for making your own fire poi and taking fire safety precautions, for those who are ready for the flame.

Marita dances with fire at Mini Guinea Fest

(Pre-registration required by July 15th ~ Contact Marita here to register)
$60 for 4 Wednesdays: July 22, 29, Aug 5 & 12 
7:30-8:30pm (Location TBA with registration. Planning for outdoor location with indoor back up in case of rain)
  Can’t wait to dance with you all in the studio or the grass this summer!

Announcing ~ Mini Guinea Festival!

Click Here for our Weekly Dance & Drum Class Schedule

Mini Guinea Fest

Saturday May 16, 2015 

At the Woodford’s Club, 179 Woodford St. in Portland, Maine

 Building community and sharing the love, we celebrate master drummer Namory Keita’s move to Portland, the 10 Year Anniversary of Portland’s West African Inspired Dance, and the many artists and students who have helped build the energy here over the years. 

Click HERE for Tickets

Some of the amazing artists we’ll celebrate with:

Namory Keita

Youssouf Koumbassa

Sayon Camara

Sayon Camara





Abdoulaye Toure

Abdoulaye Toure

Abou Sylla

Abou Sylla















Mini Guinea Fest is a celebration of West African Dance and Drumming, and its growing community here in Maine and New England.


The event begins with a lively dance class with Youssouf Koumbassa ~ world-renowned for his dancing, and gift for making Guinean dance accessible to all learners.

Youssouf Koumbassa teaching at Mechanic's Hall Ballroom, in Portland 2014

Youssouf teaching at Mechanic’s Ballroom in Portland, ME 2014

Youssouf teaching at Camp Fareta in California

Class will be followed by breaking bread together, an evening of performances with some of Guinea’s finest musicians, and some local talents from ME and NH. 

Stay on afterward to join the dance party and help us give Namory a warm welcome!


Welcoming Namory Keita!

Welcoming Namory Keita! Photo by Philip Styles

Mini Guinea Fest ~ Saturday May 16

At the Woodford’s Club, 179 Woodford St. in Portland, Maine

Doors Open at 3:30pm 

4:00-5:30pm ~ All Levels West African Dance class with Youssouf Koumbassa 

No experience necessary in what is certain to be a joyous dance class with revered teacher, and renowned master dancer, Youssouf Koumbassa, from Guinea. ($15 advance/$18 at door)

5:30-7:00pm ~Potluck and mingling 

Please bring something to share.

7:00-9:00pm ~ West African Dance and Drum Performances 

With Guinean artists, Namory Keita, Abou Sylla, Sayon Camara, Abdoulaye Toure, Theo Martey and more! Portland’s local Blue Moon Tribe, lead by Marita Kennedy-Castro, Kittery dancers lead by Elizabeth Fowler, and Araba-Lon, from New Hampshire will open up the show. ($15 advance/$18 at door)

9:00-11:30pm ~ Stay on for the party, and join the celebration! 
(Included in performance ticket)

Purchase Tickets Here:


Join and share the Event on Facebook:


Learn about some of the guest artists: 


Youssouf Koumbassa: 


Class with Youssouf in Portland last June:

Youssouf’s Summer Camp in California:


Namory Keita: 



Sayon Camara: 


Abou Sylla: 


Abdoulaye Toure: 


Plus many additional musicians and dancers!!

Join our weekly classes in West African Inspired Dance and West African Drumming with this welcoming and ever-expanding community in Portland Maine!

~ More info HERE ~

See you at Mini Guinea Fest!

Dancing in the Returning Light

While dreaming of birdsongs and flowering plants, this beautiful and ever-growing community is staying warm dancing and drumming ’til the walls sweat with us. Come join the fun! This month we are honoring Guinean dances associated with healing and healers.

Photo by Kara Estey

Photo by Kara Estey

Tuesday nights in March we are celebrating Lamban (also Lamba), meaning “spirited dance”. This is a healing dance from the the storytellers and history keepers, the “griots” or “djelis” of Guinea.

Thursday nights in March we are celebrating Tiriba, a dance of the Baga and Landouma people of Guinea. A very special dance in honor of healers and medicine people.

Photo by Kara Estey

Photo by Kara Estey









We’re also calling community together this month to support our friend, drummer and teacher, Namory Keita, in this particularly tough time for he and his family. Namory’s older brother passed away one week ago, unexpectedly, and Namory is now the primary supporter of his and his brothers family in Guinea.  Please take a look at this link: http://www.gofundme.com/nnrpu8 and give anything you can to support them in this time of loss. Together we hold one another up.

 Join us this month in class as we dance in celebration of the returning light, as well as the healers within us, amongst us, and beyond.


Checked out the Related Events and Classes page for Info on Drumming with Sayon Camara on Spring Equinox!

Rhythms to Warm Your Bones


Over 30 People Turned out to Namory Keita's Drum Workshop on January 18th

Namory Keita’s drum workshop on January 18th at the Woodford’s Club

Portland community turned out in large numbers to take one or more of the 4 dance, drum and song workshops on January 18th, with Ismael Kouyate and Namory Keita.

Visit Portland Maine West African Inspired Dance, on Facebook, to see and hear videos from the weekend of workshops Jan 17-18 (“smart” phone videos not formatted well for this page).

If you missed out, here’s the great news ~ Namory teaches drum classes for all levels every Tuesday night in Portland at 7:15pm after accompanying West African Inspired Dance class for beginners at 5:45pm. Tuesday classes are at the Woodford’s Club.

Thurs dance

In our Thursday night all levels dance class we continue to enjoy live drumming accompaniment by the talents of Jeff Howe, Annegret Baier, Janice Erickson, Chris Gager, Lanssine Traore, Sandra Benson and Adrian Smith…

Heating up the dance floor all through the winter, at Maine Ballroom Dance Studio. Thursdays start at 7:15pm.

Thursday dance class

There’ll be no classes Tues Feb 17th. On Thursday Feb 19th, Ashley Edmondson will be subbing for me at Maine Ballroom, and on Tuesday Feb 24th, Janice Erickson will sub for me at the Woodford’s Club. Enjoy the fun styles of these lovely teachers!

Happy February New Moon, and Chinese New Year!

Click Here for More Info on Our Weekly Dance & Drum Classes

Storm Cancellation ~ Dance & Drum to the Wind & Snow

Click Here for Our Weekly W. African Dance & Drum Class Schedule

Hello community, 

What an incredible weekend of dancing and drumming we had last week! I’ll be posting photos and videos from the event here soon. Please let me know if you have any great photos to share from the workshops or performance, and perhaps check out the many posts on Portland Maine West African Inspired Dance  via Facebook today while sipping hot chocolate and dancing around your kitchen.

Marita and Liz take flight in Dundun Dance class, Jan 18th.

While the wind and snow do their wild dance outside, we encourage everyone to have fun playing in it! Stay safe, stay warm, and enjoy.  Tuesday night dance and drum classes are cancelled for this evening, Jan 27th. Come dance with us on Thursday, or see you next week.


Previous Older Entries