Youssouf Koumbassa Returns to Maine!

Special Dance & Drum Classes 
TODAY! September 24th, Portland, ME


Youssouf Koumbassa

Catch the experience! Dance class FOR ALL LEVELS,
true beginners alongside experienced dancers, with deeply beloved teacher, best of the best, world-renowned, g
rand master dancerYoussouf Koumbassa


TWO DAYS – Saturday Sep 24th, Portland
Sunday Sep 25th, Kittery

Youssouf leads a warm-up for dance class, Portland, ME 2015


Perhaps the world’s most sought-after teacher of Guinea-style African dance, Youssouf Koumbassa was born in Conakry, Guinea. For the past 25 years, Youssouf has taught countless devoted students around the world the beauty and energy of Guinea dance. He teaches at conferences and workshops from Mexico to Amsterdam, California to Japan, yet maintains his position at the center of his African dance community in New York City. Youssouf returns to Guinea every year to lead a month-long immersion workshop for international students in drum and dance.  For extended bio, click HERE.



Youssouf Koumbassa

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

DANCE CLASS w/ Youssouf Koumbassa
DRUM CLASS w/ Namory Keita

Fun for total beginners & advanced students alike!



Youssouf Koumbassa

Hosted by Marita Kennedy-Castro @ Embody The Rhythm, with special thanks to Maine Ballroom Dance, 614 Congress St, Portland

9:30-11:00am | All Levels Dance Class
$16 advance | $20 door | $14 students with I.D.
Maine Ballroom

11:15 – 12:45pm | All Levels Drum Class
$16 advance | $20 door | $14 students with I.D.
Maine Ballroom

These classes fill fast. Guarantee your space in class/get tix in Portland’s weekly dance class Tuesdays or Thursdays, or online at:


Namory Keita


Master drummer Namory Keita, born in Sangbarala, Guinea has been the lead drummer in his village since 2006, and performs all over the world.  He moved to Portland, Maine in early 2015 and currently teaches drum classes throughout New England. Namory is a fun and patient teacher for all skill levels. 

Youssouf Koumbassa and Namory Keita, all smiles and talent.


Drum workshop with Namory Keita in Portland, ME 2015

Click HERE for classes September 25th in Kittery, ME


Click HERE for Weekly Dance & Drum Class in Portland
with Marita Kennedy-Castro and Namory Keita. 

We’re excited to see you Tuesdays & Thursdays in September as we prepare to consolidate all our classes to Tuesdays in October ~ Stay tuned! 

Can’t wait to see you September 24th & 25th, with Youssouf Koumbassa!!

Click HERE to visit us on Facebook, let us know you’re coming, share the event.



Dance from your heart & your feet will follow.

*NOTICE: No Dance or Drum Class AUGUST 30th*
 – Find weekly drum & dance class info HERE –


Marita Kennedy-Castro & Namory Keita singing at Congress Square Park, July 15th, 2016. Photo by Sullivan Photography

Thanks to all who joined Namory and I, and New Moon Ensemble on July 15th!
It is essential that we create occasions for inter-cultural celebration, recognizing and celebrating the gift of sharing and learning from one another across cultures.
It is my great pleasure to be able to collectively bring healing vibes to our community, through music and dance.

May we all use our creative fire, as Alana Fairchild so eloquently puts it,  
“to burn new ideas of love, healing and transcendent hope onto the world stage.” 


Marita Kennedy-Castro.  Photo by Tony Castro

In a large nutshell, Embody the Rhythm is undergoing a renovation.

 This work is expanding in ways that I’m really excited about and proud of, and some of these changes will bring new experiences to our community.
Recently I’ve begun…
  • Leading modern community rituals, baby blessing ceremonies and healing rituals with dance and drumming. Contact me if interested.
  • Volunteer teaching dance and drumming at Longcreek Youth Detention Center, alongside inspiring leader Anne Esguerra (yoga therapy), and through the incredible program Maine Inside Out.
  • Developing some of our collaborative classes for women at the Maine Correctional Center.
  • Offering individualized private and small group movement lessons, to help folks get “unstuck”, work through inhibitions and find their freedom of movement. Contact me if interested.
  • Developing a women’s empowerment retreat along with Anne at Horizon Line , and Clara at Prevention.Action.Change. Think, embodiment yoga therapy, self-love-based dance and movement, empowerment self defense… Stay tuned!
  • Designing a very exciting new program to facilitate intercultural music and dance collaborations in local high schools, based on my college thesis project, Bakunda (We Love). This program is in seed form, and all supportive connections are welcome!
  • Setting up a 5 day tour of teaching work for my biggest influence and beloved teacher in West African Dance, Youssouf Koumbassa, to bring him back to Maine (!!!) 

SAVE THE DATE ~ Classes with Youssouf Koumbassa Sep 24th in Portland & Sep 25th in Kittery, ME.


Youssouf Koumbassa performing in Portland, ME in May 2015.


Youssouf Koumbassa teaches dance in Guinea, Conakry, At Bagatai.




This fall we’ll be consolidating the two dance classes into ONE, WONDERFUL, ALL-LEVELS, DANCE CLASS, for true-blue beginners alongside advanced students. The new dance class will be 1.5 hrs on Tuesday evenings, likely to begin at 5:45pm, followed by drum class with Namory Keita.
This is a very exciting opportunity to bring the whole community together as one supportive community.  
Location and date change will be announced just as soon as confirmed. Likely to begin in October. Going to be great! Both classes continue as usual until then.

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New Moon Ensemble performance photos from July 15th show at Congress Square Park.

Peace. Love. Unity.
See you on the dance floor!
*Notice: No Dance Class AUG 30th*


Follow Embody the Rhythm on Instagram & Facebook 

Welcoming Summer with a FREE Show

What’s New:

New Moon Ensemble Performs on Congress Square July 15!
* Private movement lessons * Dance discounts for men *
* Possible Thursday dance class time change *

For Weekly Dance & Drum Class Schedule, please click HERE

NME - Congress Sq

Hosted by Friends of Congress Square Park – Friday July 15th, 6-8pm
New Moon Ensemble is an inter-cultural performance ensemble of West African dance and drumming. We bring community together through rhythm and dance, deepening awareness and understanding across cultures, reconnecting with traditions of communal sharing in life’s seasons and passages.
Come enjoy an exciting evening of music and dance
lead by dancer/choreographer Marita Kennedy-Castro, with master drummer Namory Keita, from Guinea, West Africa.

Bring your kids, bring a friend, tell your neighbors…
Free outdoor show in downtown Portland! We hope to see you there! 



NEW: Private Movement Lessons ~  Have you often thought you’d love to take a dance class, but don’t quite dare? Do you wish to find your freedom of movement but struggle with body image, or feel “stuck” in some way? Individualized classes can help to unblock and access movement and expression, at your own pace.  Marita provides a safe and fun environment in which to explore, and is passionate about helping folks find more ease and confidence in their bodies. Contact Marita HERE to explore the possibilities. 

NEW: Men Dance for Just $5, first Tuesdays or Thursdays ~
Acknowledging that Maine can be a tough place for men to feel at home on the dance floor, I want to give the fellas a little boost – All identifying males dance for just $5 on first Tuesdays or Thursdays of the month. Tell your people! Flood the dance floor! 

Possible Thursday Dance Class Time Change ~ Heads up ~ Starting in the fall, we are looking to switch our dance class day and time to better serve this community. Stay tuned! 

Mini Guinea Fest in Kittery was a blast!

~ Here are a few glimpses of the fun we had ~

Amazing Dance Class with Sidiki Sylla ~ 

Love Sayon Camara! All smiles & skills ~

Seny Daffe sets the drums on fire! ~

There were SO many more amazing moments, and many more to come.
Thanks to Elizabeth Fowler and Kittery Dance Hall for hosting! 

Save the dates: September 24-25, Youssouf Koumbassa returns to Portland & Kittery! 

See you on the dance floor!


Guest Artists Returning to Maine in May

3 Special guest artists from Guinea return to Maine for

Join us May 21st at the Kittery Dance Hall for an exciting day of workshops and an evening performance

Jeh Kulu Artists

These fantastic artists from Jeh Kulu Dance & Drum Theatre are great about making West African dance & drum accessible to all people. Join the fun! 

Saturday, May 21

12:00 to 1:30 pm
Drum class with Ismael Bangoura

1:45 to 3:15 pm
Dundun dance class with Seny Daffe (*videos of dundun dance below)

3:30 to 5:00 pm
Dance class with Sidiki Sylla
(Accompanied by Ismael, Seny, and Namory Keita)

No experience necessary for any of the classes.
$15 per class in advance or $17 at the door

West African Drum & Dance Performance with Guinean artists: Namory KeitaIsmael Lafori BangouraSeny DaffeSidiki SyllaSayon Camara, and other special guests!

Portland’s New Moon Ensemble, led by Marita Kennedy-Castro and Namory Keita and Seacoast West African Dance & Drum, led by Liz Fowler and Namory Keita will open up the show.

Performance tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door.
(Kids 10 and under are free!)

Register for workshops or buy tickets for the performance in advance:
More info:


Thanks to all who came to the Dundun Dance Workshops
with Marita and Namory ~

We had such a great time with all of you!

Here are a few fun moments:

For info on weekly Dance & Drum Classes with Marita & Namory
in Portland, Maine click HERE

Drop in any time! Join us on Tuesdays in May to dance Gumbé, from the Tuba people of Guinea, and on Thursdays to dance Kassa from the Malinke people.

See you on the dance floor! 

Dancing Back to the Earth

What’s New:

Dundun Dance Workshops, modern community rituals, plus special guest artists from Guinea returning in May… Happy Spring! 

DunDun Dance – April Workshops

Dundun Dance is the incredibly fun art of simultaneous drumming and dancing, from the country of Guinea, West Africa.


Saturdays April 23 and 30
Hustle & Flow Studio, Portland, ME
$20 per Workshop
Drums and sticks provided

Instructed by Marita Kennedy-Castro
Djembe accompaniment by Namory Keita

Pre-register at
or in a weekly class with Marita

Join event on Facebook: Dundun Dance Workshops, Portland Maine

Many more dundun dance videos to be found online


Click Here for Weekly Dance & Drum Class Info

Bring the Ritual of Dance & Drumming to Your Occasion

In our modern communities the celebration of our interconnectedness is often forgotten, yet can be transformative when remembered. West African dances and rhythms honor interrelationship with the rhythms of nature and with one another, celebrating and sharing life’s cycles and seasons.

Marita & Namory, along with New Moon Ensemble are available to provide modern community rituals catered to your occasion, incorporating traditional rhythms and movements danced for centuries in West Africa.

Bring the international ritual of dance and music to your:



                                                         *  OTHER SPECIAL OCCASIONS  *

Performances and lessons available. Please be in contact here, with inquiries.

Guest Artists from Guinea Return to Maine, May 21! 

Sidiki Sylla, Seny Daffe & Ismael Bangoura from Jeh Kulu will return for Mini Guinea Fest 2016 in Kittery ~ Save the date and stay tuned! 


Dancing Back to the Earth 

In honor of interconnection and in recognition of Earth Day, I encourage folks to walk, bike or carpool to class, give back to this Earth Mama that sustains us and take part in movements for Cultural Survival.

I made this video in honor of our interconnection. The song is “Fala”, by Tom Diakuté, and the quote is from Anna Halprin. Photographers listed in video notes.


See you on the dance floor! 

It’s all About the Love

Tuesdays & Thursdays all year long.

If you’re ready to try West African Inspired Dance, 2016 is your time! 

~ Spreading the Love ~
NEW special offers

  • New Student Discount: $20 for 4 classes in 4 weeks. Try both classes!
  • Introduce a Friend to Class: If they buy a pass, you get a FREE class.
  • 4-pass: $52 (lasts 8 weeks), 8-pass: $96 (lasts 12 weeks)
  • Passes may be used in either class.
  • Additional Details: Dance & Drum Class Page

~ Dancing for Love ~


On Tuesdays in February we will dance Yankadi and Makru, dances for courtship and love from the Susu people of Guinea, West Africa.
Learn some sultry moves to take home and
share with your sweetheart.

celebrate dance


Thursdays we will dance Djolé, a celebratory dance
from the Timiné people of Sierra Leone, West Africa. Inspire the ones you love with your powerful new moves.

~Giving Back the Love ~

Sending out immense gratitude and love to some of my amazing teachers:
Check out this powerful dream team (click photos to enlarge) ~

(Photos from Camp Fareta, July 2015)

More good things coming !

 Connect with us on Facebook and help us spread the word

See you on the dance floor!
Peace and blessings


Thanking the Moon & Stars

Happy New Year! I am still beaming from New Moon Rising on January 2nd. The very first show of the New Moon Ensemble was a fabulous success, thanks to an absolutely wonderful ensemble, and to the amazing community that showed up and packed the venue to the rafters! 

~ Here are a few photos from New Moon Rising at Mayo St. Arts ~
from photographers, Sage Hayes and Tony Castro

I dedicated this performance with a prayer for the expansion of interconnections in community that celebrate diversity, and the creation of beautiful and transformative ways for us all to learn from one another. May there be ever-growing energy, action and change-making that benefit the good of all.

We sold out all the seats, and even the standing room for this show. For all who couldn’t make it in the door, there will be more! Meanwhile, come dance with us Tuesdays and Thursdays, and enjoy the beautiful grooves for yourself. 
For weekly dance and drum class info, click HERE. 

This month in class we are dancing Sinté on Tuesdays and Gumbé on Thursdays.
Visit us on Facebook and Instagram at: Embody The Rhythm 

Here’s to the healing power of music and dance!

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