Donations for Guinea Accepted Next 3 Tuesdays

Hi community!

We’re calling for donations of clothing and medicine items to be taken to Guinea very soon. We’ll be collecting donations at Tuesday dance classes Oct 25, Nov 1 and Nov 8th.

Medicines (unopened/new) ~Anything you might find in a first aid kit
Ibuprofin, neosporin, triple antibiotics, bandages…
Clothing items ~ (children’s sizes as well as adults) for summer weather, sandals, dresses, shirts, shorts, leggings, hats, jeans, shoes, sheets, towels are all greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance for anything you can donate, and for helping to give back to the people of La Guinea!!

See you on the dance floor!

Surprise Special Guest, Wadaba Joins us for Dance & Drum Class this Week!

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18 ONLY – Special drum & dance opportunity!

Mamady Kourouma, affectionately known as Wadaba, and a good friend of Namory Keita is a true Djembefola (master drummer), expert of Malinke Rhythms and one of the world’s great djembe players!


@ 5:45-7:15pm
@ 7:30-8:45 pm

This is a surprise visit and a unique opportunity to experience the rich artistic playing of Mamady. He brings Malinke rhythms, songs and an understanding of the ceremonies of his village of Oroko, Guinea (just down the Niger River from Namory’s village of Sangbarala).

Don’t miss this special unexpected treat and opportunity!

Beginners to professional levels – All are welcome.
Bring your djembe for drum class
(some extra djembes available).

Drum class just $15.

Our weekly classes are at: Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave, Portland ME

See you on the dance floor!

We Have Moved!

After 12 years of West African Inspired Dance & Drumming on Congress St. in downtown Portland, WE’VE MOVED to TUESDAYS.

Join us at our new place, time and location!
(please see below for details) 


Videos from our final Thursday night dance class at Maine Ballroom, Sep 29, 2016. 

I am beyond grateful to all of the drummers and dancers who’ve shared Thursday nights with me over the past decade, building and being part of this ever-growing community ~

Thank you for helping create space for movement without judgement, movement that brings people together, movement that brings liberation to bodies and minds, that allows us to feel and be and still keep moving amidst our grief, to celebrate our successes together and to honor and give thanks to the tradition and culture of Guinea dance & drumming for showing us how.
May we continue to create modern community rituals that bring us together across cultures and creeds, honoring our unity and our diversity at once, and connecting us with the cycles and seasons of nature – to the Earth, from which we all come.

Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave. Portland, ME


This class is for true beginners and experienced students together. 

Dance class is taught by Marita Kennedy-Castro. This is an open, welcoming space to learn something fun and new. Special discounts for both new and returning students. 

The same amazing lineup of musicians provide live drumming, including most frequently Janice Erickson, Jeff Howe, Sandra Benson, Chris Gager, Annegret Baier and master village drummer from Sangbarela, Guinea, Namory Keita.


TUESDAY DRUM CLASS | 7:30-8:45pm
This drum class is for intermediate to advanced drum students.

Drum class, taught by Namory Keita will include a full ensemble of West African Traditional Melenke Rhythms on djembe, as well as the full doundoun family of drums.

This drum class is for true beginners. 

*Wednesdays are at Woodford’s Club. 179 Woodford’s St., Portland, ME
Beginner drum class with Namory Keita is a blast, whether you want to improve your drum circle skills, or dig deeper into the wonders of West African rhythms. 

We look forward to meeting and welcoming new students in this move!

Meanwhile, I’m working on development of a family dance class (kids and parents together). Please contact me if you’re interested.

Big Up to everyone who came out to classes with Youssouf Koumbassa & Namory Keita in September, (photos/video HERE). Special thanks to Maine Ballroom Dance Studio for the space to enjoy these fabulous teachers in Portland! 

Follow Embody the Rhythm on Facebook


Youssouf Koumbassa Returns to Maine!

Special Dance & Drum Classes 
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! 

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