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 receive hand-picked flowers from special admirers.


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!

Dance and Wellbeing

I am interested in the ways that dance and music contribute to the wellbeing of our selves, our communities and the world around us.

Through teaching this class I’ve experienced the growth of a community that comes together each week to let everything go, allowing our inner selves to wake up in response to the rhythms of live drumming. By participating in and experiencing this together we are given the opportunity to express our own nature in response to our surroundings while at the same time experiencing our innate relationship with others. As humans, we need one another for optimal wellbeing. We remind each other of our true nature by virtue of sharing  in existence. I need you as you need me, as we need we.

Beautiful Bentourya, home of Nimba Center for Art & Sustainability

Beautiful Bentourya, home of Nimba Center for Art & Sustainability

In Guinée, West Africa, dance and music are an integral part of life. During my stay there I witnessed no discouragement of the natural movement and expression of self that comes in response to music. I believe sharing in rhythmic music and movement connects us to one another, deeply, at the soul level and helps us to remember who we truly are. I encourage our community to experience the wellbeing that comes from sharing in live music and dancing, to embody the rhythms, express ourselves freely and honor the places and peoples from where these incredible rhythms and dances have come.

If you would like a way to give back to the people of Guinée I encourage you to check out the wonderful work of Nimba Center for Arts & Sustainable Energy (that is a direct link). All donations will go a long way.

This month in class we will be dancing Kassa, meaning “to plant” in the Malinké language. I know it is a little early for a planting dance, but I suppose I am just feeling quite ready for spring. While we dance (and our wonderful drummers drum) we can send the energy of rejuvenation and appreciation to the Earth that sustains us and allows us to thrive through all that grows.

See you on the dance floor!


Dancing Up Some Heat!

We’ve recently celebrated the Chinese New Year and I am so pleased to have entered the year of the Horse. Horse is such a dear animal friend, reminding us by example to remain strong, graceful, wild… and to celebrate our freedom. How blessed we are to dance and be free!

We’re excited to bring you a new dance for Februrary ~ Sinté

Sinté comes from Boké village in Guinea. It is traditionally an initiation dance, and according to my teacher, Youssouf, it has become a national celebration dance in the country today. After a few more weeks behind the drum I so look forward to dancing Sinté with everyone very soon!!!

In the meantime, I continue to dream nearly every day of dancing in beautiful Guinea. Let’s pay tribute the roots of this dance form and dance up some heat, like we feel in the hot sands of Roum Island~

Roum Island, La Guinea, West Africa

Roum Island, La Guinea, West Africa

Dancing in the sand on Roum Island...

Dancing in the sand on the Island of Roum…

The Rhythm of Healing

Giving thanks to Solomon's Seal ~ An honored healer of joints, tendons and ligaments, amongst other things

Giving thanks to Solomon’s Seal ~ An honored healer of joints, tendons and ligaments, amongst other things

Hello hello!

In an interesting “twist” of fate, I will be carrying through the next month behind a drum at dance class while wonderfully capable teacher, Janice Erickson, leads the dancing. Janice will continue right along with the fabulous dance, Soboninkun, this month and then lead on into a new West African rhythm and dance for February.

I’ll be having a small, arthroscopic, meniscus surgery to my left knee on Wednesday, Jan 22nd and be back to (gentle) dancing in 1 months time, then back to full dancing speed and pain-free capability (oh, how I’ve missed it) in the months to follow!

Sending out HUGE gratitude to Janice for keeping this class going in the meantime! There will be no gap in classes and this will offer you an opportunity to enjoy the strengths and talents of another seasoned teacher! I’ll be there too, behind a djembe, healing up to the rhythms of the drums.

I will pick back up teaching just as soon as I am good to go (mid-February), and in the meantime I am excited to see you all dancing from the front end of the room!!

Blessings, healings and waxing light,

Happy New Year!!

Dearest Maine dance & drum community, 

Sun-bleached flowers in la Guinea, bringing a little bit of warmth to Maine!

Sun-bleached flowers in la Guinea, bringing a little bit of warmth to Maine!

Wishing you the happiest of new years from amidst this zero degree weather and blustery snow. I’m so sorry to have to cancel class for a second week in a row. I was speaking with various drummers and students on the phone today, trying to make the best choice for us all, and as I drove home I saw 4 people off the road. It seemed to be a sign. I wish everyone a warm and safe evening and invite you to dance around your kitchens and living rooms during normal class time so we can simultaneously invoke the energy of this great community together! 

I am excited to share, with a little twist for the first month of the new year, we will continue on with the fantastically fun rhythm and dance, Soboninkun, for at least another week or 2. So many of you expressed such love for this dance and I was sorry to see it gone so soon with the busy month of December and then the snow cancellation last week.

I also wanted to announce that for the first time in 10yrs (anniversary celebration anyone?!) we are making a small increase in the class fee starting in 2014. I’ve been so happy to offer the most affordable dance class in town, complete with live music every week.  I wish to continue to keep class affordable while “getting with the times” and acknowledging the increase in the cost of living since 2004. Everyone’s pre-purchased class cards will be honored at cost, through their expiration dates. Beginning this month, the drop in cost will be $14 (or $7 for very first class), and class cards will be $48 for for 4 classes (lasting 8 weeks) or $96 for 8 classes (lasting 3 months).

I am so grateful for each and every one of you dancers and drummers and so grateful that we have such a beautiful, ever-growing community to celebrate West African rhythm and dance with. Wishing you all many blessings in 2014 and I cannot wait to boogie with you soon! 

Blessings and Peace

Celebrating another great year together!

Last week while we gave thanks for all good things in life the drums went on break and the studio was silent…

drums resting in the shade in Conakry

Drums resting in the shade in Conakry

I couldn’t help but dream of being in La Guinea.

Though it was only 2 years ago that I was gathering supplies and packing bags for an incredible trip to the birthplace of these rhythms, it feels like a decade. I can’t wait to return!

Perhaps some of you will join me next time ~ Winter 2015, anyone? That’s when I’m hoping for.

While we prepare to celebrate with loved ones over the coming month and perhaps seek organizations to support in our gift-giving, I’d love to encourage you to support Youssouf Koumbassa’s project, Nimba Center for Arts and Sustainable Energy. Please click HERE to learn about this fantastic project.

Bentouraya ~ Home of Youssouf's Future Nimba Center

Bentouraya ~ Home of Youssouf’s Future Nimba Center

For the month of December I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this past year together as we send off 2013 with the energetic dance and rhythm, Soboninkun.


I’ve missed you these past few weeks and can’t wait to see you all again tomorrow night! In the meantime, feel free to join me in dreaming of Guinea…

See you on the dance floor!


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