OUTDOOR & ONLINE Classes Keeping Community Together

As we collaborate to protect one another’s wellbeing, distancing has become the new jam.


UPDATE: On JUNE 2 – We Dance for Black Lives
Proceeds go to those fighting for justice for our Black relatives, via

Black Visions Collective & Minnesota Freedom Fund.


We dance in support of our Black and Brown relatives, nationwide; we denounce the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbory, Tony Mcdade and so very many more in this country; in recognition of the disproportional toll Covid-19 is taking on our Black and Brown relatives; in recognition of our grief, and of the love we wish to send out to all grieving these losses and fearing for their lives, we offer this dance and more to come.  


As of June 2 all Dance classes are moving OUTSIDE for properly distanced dancing in Payson Park ~ weather dependent!

Each Dance class will continue Live ONLINE, rain or shine,
with the exception of the June 2 fundraiser.

Communally supported, sliding scale payments.

If you already know the scoop, register by date at the blue registration links on the homepage.


Until we can dance in studio together again, let’s all create some fabulously awkward dance moves to share as greetings when we’re out getting fresh air.

Spread love. Be love. 



Dancing in Community Compounds Healing

3 More classes in December 2019! NEW CLASSES AND POSTS COMING SOON.

Happy Autumn, y’all!  So many exciting things to share!

New Moon Ensemble wrapped up 3 summer shows in September. Thanks to all who came out!

Preview the hot topics of this post:

Please join us, Friday October 4th at the Greely Center for the Arts, 6:30pm.

Ultra talented, ultra kind human and master drummer Sayon Camara is performing in Cumberland, ME alongside friends and members of New Moon Ensemble for a special fundraiser ~  Hear the beautiful traditional music of Guinea, including the sounds of krin, bolon, djembe, dundunba, sangban and kenkeni. Beautiful art for a great cause! 

Beginning Drum Class with Sayon Camara, Monday October 7th, 6:15 -7:15pm, $15

Sayon is a patient, inspiring teacher and will be guest teaching in Namory’s regular weekly drum class at @ Root Wild Kombucha, 135 Washington Ave., Portland, ME. Bring your djembe or if you need to reserve a drum contact info@namorydrum.com.

Sayon will be guest drummer for Dance Class on Tuesday October 8th!

There’s nothing like seeing Sayon’s glowing smile while you dance.

Dancing Together is Healing ~ Check it out:

This Autumn celebrate freedom of movement in your body, experience the pleasure of live drumming and feel the joy of moving in unison with others. Science confirms, more and more, what so many of us have experienced for decades ~ There are innumerable health benefits to dancing, affecting not just our bodies, but our mind and spirit too.

This article on NPR shares the benefits of dancing in synchrony with others: 
The Health Benefits of Dancing go Beyond Exercise and Stress Reduction

This article from the Journal of Pan African Studies highlights Guinea dance too:
African Dance as Healing Modality Throughout the Diaspora: The Use of Ritual and Movement to Work Through Trauma


Friday Morning Dance Series Starts October 4th

Join me for this 8-week series, geared especially for beginners.
I love starting my Fridays off dancing. Can’t wait to share this journey with you! 

9-10am, set to the sounds of traditional rhythms and music from West Africa. 
October 4 – November 22
Click here to register, or just drop in.


Drum & Dance with Seny Daffe & Namory Keita, Tuesday October 29

We love Seny Daffe!
Seny returns to Embody the Rhythm to teach a class that’s accessible to all levels, Tuesday Oct 29th, right after a special drum class with Namory Keita.
Classes at Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave, Portland, ME

Drum Class with Namory 4:45-5:45pm, $15 cash or check at the door
BYO djembe, or email Namory to reserve one: info@namorydrum.com

Dance Class with Seny Daffe 6:00-7:30pm, $18 cash or check at the door
Come dance with this fabulously talented and fun teacher. 


Moments from New Moon Ensemble’s
August & September shows

Thanks again to all who came out to support us. If you have photos to share, we’d love to see them!

Save the Date! Jeh Kulu’s Annual West African Dance & Drum Festival in Burlington, VT   November 1-3

Dance & drum students are highly encouraged to experience this fabulous festival of classes in the beautiful town of Burlington. Master teachers including Moustapha Bangoura, Ismael Bonfils Kouyate and many more.. (This is where Seny Daffe calls home).


Movement Medicine and Social Change

movement medicine social change

There is a Need for Healing.  
All people, all genders, all ages, ethnicities, creeds…
We all need the healing medicine of movement.
We need spaces in which we become so present in the experience of our body’s movement that we forget our heartache, forget our struggles, and remember our Selves. Even for a moment. Even for an hour.
We need community.
We need safe spaces in which we can collectively align in movement, share in rhythm, and breathe in the company of others … to shed the heaviness, despair, anger, fear,
even if for the moment …

So that the lightness of our being, suspended in air, in rhythm, in movement, can return us to the presence of our own spirit, can grow our resilience, grow our strength, rekindle our fire and most importantly, inspire the actions we take to change the systems that are not working for the good of all. 

Let’s cultivate the healing energy we generate on the dance floor to go beyond ourselves and take outward into the world. Let’s find more ways to take action together to create the changes needed for all people to be safe, for all people to be free, for all people to thrive.

As a small step toward collectively channelling the healing medicine of movement directly toward social change  $1 from each student in our Tuesday dance classes in 2019 will be donated to these important initiatives
here in Maine and in Guinea:

For Us By Us (a fund for POC, by POC) in Maine. Learn more here:
Black Girl in Maine (BGIM media) – education, awareness, participation: 
Hamana Arts Center (school for traditional cultural arts) in Guinea, West Africa:
Youssouf Koumbassa’s School for traditional cultural arts in Guinea, West Africa.
(link coming) 

Check out the important work of each organization and consider donating directly, by visiting the links provided above.

dance class 3

Movement, Music & Community

While we are dancing through precarious and trying times,
we also have new beginnings to celebrate.
Let’s continue to come together, build community, hold each other up and knit our neighborhoods together, celebrate one another and create space for the light to grow within each individual.
Let’s reach beyond preconceived boundaries and learn from one another.

Come dance.

Tuesdays, Fridays and some Saturdays! (link here FMI)

Nobody turned away for lack of funds. Barters and discounts available.
All bodies, all genders welcome.

See you on the dance floor! Welcome 2019!

Across the ocean and in our hearts. Giving back to Guinea

Do you have plans for staying warm and inspired, active and connected this winter? Come beat the winter blues with a community you can groove with!

Movement and music are languages that transcend words, helping to build intercultural understanding and connection.

Movement and music are medicines needed by all.



DECEMBER 4 – Right after dance class, POTLUCK PARTY & DONATIONS COLLECTION for Namory Keita’s annual winter trip.

Dance class 6-7:30pm, Potluck Party 7:45pm on,
Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave, Portland, ME

 What you can bring:

  • A dish or beverage to share and extra paper plates/cups if you have ’em (silverware provided – let’s keep it compostable/recyclable)
  • Donations of over-the-counter first aid supplies and children’s summer clothing to be delivered in the villages.
  • Financial contributions for the Hamana Art Center – This is a school Namory is building in the beautiful Hamana region of Guinea. Here masters and students from around the world will come together to exchange, teach, perform and study the traditional arts of the region. Photos of the school building progress:

    You can also support this project online, at this link:
    Hamana Art Center


Annegret Baier

Annegret offers small group and individual percussion/drumming lessons. A great gift for the holidays! Contact her: annegret@maine.rr.com

Stay tuned for weekly group lessons and workshops in the New Year and visit her website: www.annegretbaier.com




  • DID YOU KNOW? To encourage gender diversity on the dance floor, 1st Tuesday of every month is just $5 for male-identified and gender-non-conforming dancers. Dance is good for all bodies.
    We start a new dance every 1st Tuesday.
  • Our last Tuesday class of the year will be December 18, 2018. Winter weather cancellations are posted on the top of this page, and on our facebook page (see link below)
  • Our Friday morning series continues through December 21st (open to drop in. See classes page)


  • Purchase a 4-class or 8-class pass for someone you love (including yourself!) at this link:  Embody the Rhythm Store 


Embody the Rhythm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EmbodyTheRhythm/
Embody the Rhythm on Instagram:

A special thanks Kendra Smith of Mainer Media, for the video in this post. 

Let’s Dance it Out

Bring on the empowering medicine of movement and music!


New Moon Ensemble, performing at Henry Fest on Sep 8, 2018


In response to the myriad reasons we need movement medicine, I’m excited to announce a


8-Weeks | Fridays Mornings | 9 -10am
Oct 26 – Dec 21 
skipping Nov 23)
Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave

This class is now open for drop-in students. 


Accompanied by beautiful traditional rhythm recordings, this class will focus on the therapeutic aspects of Guinea style, West African dance; tuning in to breath and heartbeat as our guiding force and energy.

An opportunity to dip your toes in or dive deep into a new form of expression and connection through heart and hip opening movement. Beginners and experienced dancers welcomed. No experience needed.

Minimum number of pre-registrants needed to run the class. Sign up for the Early Bird discount and help this class fly.*

Early Bird Price = $110

After October 15 = drop-ins $15/class

*Once minimum # of pre-registrants is met to run the class, it will open to drop-ins


York County Mini Makers Faire
Saturday, Oct 13 | Pepperell Mill Campus, Biddeford, ME | 4:00pm


For details about York County Mini Makers Faire, SEE THIS LINK.
For directions and parking info, SEE THIS LINK. 


Thanks to everyone who came out to support all of the fabulous artists and the annual fundraiser for 317 Main, last month.

We had a great time performing in the field, and I loved offering this mini dance workshop with our drummers bringing the fire ~ Check out the overflowing dance floor energy:

Thank you to all who came out
for the drum & dance workshops with Namory Keita and Seny Daffe!!

Your presence in these workshops makes them possible.




Are you aware there are many annual West African Dance & Drum festivals throughout the nation, as well as world-wide? These cultural traditions have inspired an international family, bringing people together from all over the globe through dance, drum and song.

Join dancers and drummers from Embody the Rhythm community in attending Jeh Kulu’s Annual West African Dance & Drum Festival this year!


For all who, like me, feel little rattled by what’s going on in our world, I invite you to move it on out with me on dance floors, here there and everywhere. 

Movement is medicine.
Let’s dance it out. 


A post shared by Marita Kennedy-Castro (@embodytherhythm) on


Celebrating Cultures

Come dance or drum with us!
Check HERE for weekly class info

Now more than ever we need to engage our communities with creative visions of cross-cultural collaboration, build opportunity for more intercultural exchange and togetherness, and create supportive and celebratory environments for the expression of traditions that come from afar. 

Join the ensembles of Many Waters (June 25) and New Moon (July 13) in celebrating cultures, building community, and raising up some positive energy for the healing that is much needed in the world:


13709915_10153553905307163_1648242248180838027_nNEW MOON ENSEMBLE

Tides ~ Les Marées ~ 
A Celebratory Performance of West African Dance and Drumming

Thursday July 13th, 7:00-8:30pm
Mayo St. Arts
in Portland.

New Moon Ensemble’s performances offer intoxicating rhythms and energetic dances into the world as prayers for peace and well-being for all. Join us for this special evening!

Learn more about New Moon Ensemble
Reserve your spot. Purchase TICKETS

Share/Follow on Facebook






Representing an exciting new intercultural arts exchange, our initial formation brings together devoted dance artists from 4 different countries of origin.

Like the streams and rivers of the Earth we all call home, when we flow together we create something bigger than ourselves. Many Waters creates inspirational fusions drawing from present day culture as well as deep cultural traditions brought together by the artists involved. 

Many Waters will be sharing our very first dance collaboration in the Theatre Ensemble of Color’s community arts showcase on Sunday June 25th, 12-2pm at Mayo St. Arts in Portland. We hope you’ll come see and support our work, and learn more about this exciting collaboration and exchange. Donations graciously accepted.





~ Meanwhile, come dance or drum with us ~
Check HERE for weekly class info
See you on the dance floor!






Community, Culture & Connection

NOTICE: Drum Classes and workshops on Monday & Wednesday nights. Link here FMI. 

Have you heard? Our friend, local master Guinea drummer, Namory Keita is developing his dream project ~ The Hamana Arts Center ~ in Guinea, West Africa, and he needs our help to build it.

The Hamana Arts Center will be a school where masters and students from around the world come together to exchange, teach, perform and study the traditional arts of the Hamana region. 


Namory, breaking ground at the Hamana Arts Center.

For all of us who enjoy the study of West African arts, helping to fund this project is a wonderful way to show our gratitude and support.

Together we can help ensure that young artists in Guinea can continue to learn their traditions, and carry them on for generations to come. Click here to link to Namory’s GoFundMe account, and help the Hamana Arts Center get off the ground. Donate, spread the word, and help support a vibrant future for Guinea! 


This Saturday, March 11th New Moon Ensemble will be performing in this righteous event:
Rise! Release! Dance! ~ A Dance & Poetry Showcase
benefiting the Maine Sex-Trafficking and Exploitation Network’s Survivor Support Fund. First Parish Church, 425 Congress St., Portland, ME – 7pm.
We hope to see you there!


Join us this month in weekly West African Inspired Dance & Drum Classes ~ Every Tuesday!
Click the link above, FMI | Find us on

Dance & Drum Community Potluck ~ Friday April 14th, 2017
Come share some food, meet friends and build community outside of class time.

Movement is Medicine

A movement for social change, and a syncopated step/jump/spin on the dance floor; intersectional movement building, and a communal arm raise to the heavens and back to Mother Earth. . . We need the medicine of movement.
We need each other.


Move, rise, love, and lift up those who need it most.

This month we’ll be practicing the  rhythm/dance, Yoki/Guinea Faré.
Guinea Faré translates as “women dance”, from 
the Susu people of Guinea, West Africa. It is traditionally danced the day before weddings, accompanied by the balafon – a type of xylophone made of wood, with gourds resonating the sound.

In honor of my beloved teacher Youssouf Koumbassa, and the blessing he gave me to teach these dances, it is a joy to share my passion for Guinea dance and music with our community. Join me this month, and let’s dance for healing ~ May the good energy we generate on the dance floor resonate out for the good of all. 

Time and Location change for one-class-only ~ Tuesday February 21st
We will bring our regular Tuesday class with live drumming to:
Equilibrium Studio in the Pepperell Mill, 40 Main St., Biddeford, ME
Class will be 6:15-7:30pm.
Regular dance passes and drop-in fees will apply.

Otherwise, classes continue as usual (Feb 14th, 28th and beyond) at the community space in Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave. 5:45-7:15pm.
Visit this LINK for more info

Embody the Rhythm is seeking someone with experience to exchange tech and web based media support for dance classes. Please contact Marita if interested. 

See you on the dance floor!

Donations for Guinea Welcome Through Nov 8th

Weekly Dance Classes Continue through the New Year. Click Here for Class Info.

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!

WE’RE BEGINNING A NEW DANCE, November 1st (as with the beginning of every month) See you on the dance floor!
DRUM CLASSES ARE ON HOLD UNTIL FEBRUARY – Please contact Janice Erickson, FMI.

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*


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