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!


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!

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.


Sing, Dance & Drum with International Guinean Star, Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyate

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

Join us for a weekend of exhilarating workshops & performances with Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyate                       & Namory Keita ~ January 16-18, 2015! 

All Workshops Open to Beginners ~ W. African Drum & Dance is for Everyone!

Scroll down to learn more & click HERE to pre-register for the Portland workshops


Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyate

Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyate was born in Guinea, West Africa to a long line of ‘Griots’, the oral historians that preserve the history and culture of Africa through songs, stories, music and dance. He began dancing professionally at the age of 12, when he was recruited by Les Percussions de Guinee’ to perform in their international tour, which included Europe and Asia. In 2004 he joined Les Ballets Africains, The National Dance Company of Guinea, for their 50th Anniversary Tour of the US. 
He amazed audiences throughout his travels, and was contracted by the team of the Broadway hit FELA! to serve as a Master Choreographer and Performer for the production. He performed with FELA! internationally, to sold-out audiences from 2008 to it’s final show in 2013.
Ismael Kouyate in Fela!

Ismael Kouyate in the Broadway Production, Fela!

In 2011, Ismael was sought out to do a special on CNN about Africa in America. His class of over 100 people ecstatically learned and modeled his movements, while speaking of their excitement to study from this legend of Guinea (Link to video). You may also recognize Ismael from his studio time with Beyonce, adding his amazing vocals to her hit, “Grown Woman”. Ismael is available as in individual performer or with his band, Waraba or his West African Dance Company, African Soul International.
Kouyate, Ismael

Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyate with Waraba Band


Namory Keita, djembefola.

Namory Keita was born in 1982 in the village of Sangbarala, Guinea. At age 7 he began drumming and became the lead drummer in his village since 2006. Members of his family are other well-known drummers, Solo Keita, who lives in Japan, and Nansady Keita, in England. He grew up drumming with his uncle Famoudou Konate, who is highly regarded for his African drumming around the world.

Namory recorded his first CD in 2010 named Kolafolo (“Beginning of Everything”), and he is a featured artist on many additional artist’s recordings. As a teacher and performing artist, he has travelled to share his culture internationally, and since coming to America in 2010, has played with Famoudou Konate, Mamady Keita, Bolokada Conde, Mousa Traore and many more.

Currently Namory performs and teaches weekly drumming classes throughout New England. He is a patient teacher for all skill levels and brings a thorough understanding of the drum ensemble and West African musical experience to his students.


Friday Jan 16th, Saturday Jan 17th in Kittery, ME

To Register for Kittery workshops & performance CLICK HERE

Sunday Jan 18th in Portland, ME

To Register for Portland workshops CLICK HERE 

Reserve your spot today!

Or pre-register in person, at either of our weekly West African Inspired Dance classes  


All classes open to beginners / No experience necessary

Facebook event Link HERE

Guinea is coming to Maine!!

Click HERE for our Current Weekly Class Schedule


I never anticipated a day would come that I’d get to make this special announcement:  Portland is welcoming master drummer Namory Keita, from Guinea, West Africa ~ to LIVE HERE!

I am thrilled to share that this gracious, kind, djembefola (master drummer) from Sangbarala, Guinea, has chosen Portland, Maine as his new home and community. Big Up to you Namory! We have much to celebrate!

A Warm Welcome to Namory Keita!!!!!!! 


Namory Keita, djembefola

Starting in January, Namory will be accompanying our Tuesday night beginner dance class at the Woodford’s Club (yes yes!) and teaching drum classes directly following. We are blessed!

Weekly Drum Classes with Namory Keita, starting January 6th, 2015

Tuesdays 7:15-8:45pm at the Woodford’s Club, 179 Woodford’s St. in Portland

Please bring a drum if you have one. Limited number of drums available for reservation.

FMI contact Janice Erickson: jerickson002@maine.rr.com

Dancing & Drumming Without Borders ~ Supporting ebola relief efforts

Reminder: Over the next 2 months a percentage of funds from every dance class will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to aid in ebola relief efforts. Please consider donating directly, via their website, and help to support the people and families from which this music and dancing comes!

HOLIDAY Discount Offers &  Gift Certificates Available in December & January

Good for Tues OR Thurs night Dance Class ~ (we can’t do multi-location passes)

*4 classes ~ $48
*8 classes ~ $88
*12 classes ~ $120
*Introduce someone new to class and you BOTH attend their 1st class at 1/2 price (redeemable one time only)
*Barters available for members of Hour Exchange Portland
*Students: $2 discount with I.D.

SAVE THE DATE  January 17-18, 2015

Workshops & Performances with Special Guest: 

Ismael ‘Bonfils’ Kouyate!

Ismael ‘Bonfils’ Kouyate, world renowned artist of traditional Guinean dance and song is coming to Maine in January 2015, for a weekend of workshops and performances.
Bonfils comes from a family of artists, and was a long time performer with Les Percussions de Guinea and Les Ballets Africains, one of Guinea’s national ballets. You may have caught him in the Broadway musical FELA!, or performing with Ismael Kouyate: Waraba Band.
Spread the Word
Saturday Jan 17th ~ Ismael teaches song, dance, drum and dundun dance classes in Kittery, topped off by an evening performance with several other musicians and dancers from Guinea, including master balafone player, Abou Sylla.
Sunday Jan 18th ~ Ismael teaches song, dance, drum and dundun dance classes in Portland
 More Details Will Be Posted Soon!
Click HERE to find us on Facebook

Embodying Gratitude and Altruism

Click HERE for our Current Weekly Class Schedule

Click HERE to find us on Facebook

The earth dances a little further from the sun each day now, bringing us ever more reason to dance more warmth into our lives, and the lives of others.

Next week many of us will gather with loved ones to share in the gifts of this years harvest, reconnect with good friends and family and give thanks for these blessings. 

In honor of those who’s cultures birthed these rhythms and dances, and in recognition of the current struggle to control Ebola in numerous West African countries, over the next few months we’ll extend this embodiment of gratitude to the peoples of West Africa.  For the months of December and January, beyond the energetic support and prayers we send, a portion of the proceeds from each class will be donated to the aid efforts of  Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)

Even if you can’t make it to class, please consider contributing directly. Here’s a link ~ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/our-work/medical-issues/ebola

Hope to see your lovely faces in class tonight! There will be no class next Thursday, Novemeber 27th. Wishing you all a sweet time to celebrate the harvest and enjoy gathering with loved ones. 



Hearts that ache, still can sing. Let’s take them dancing.

Happy late October!

With the Day of the Dead almost here, it’s a wonderful time to honor and celebrate the lives of loved ones who’ve passed on. If you’re looking for a reason to take yourself out dancing, I hope you’ll let the call of live drumming, presence of community, urge to sweat something out, or the wish to celebrate the life of a loved one, carry you to class this evening.

This month we’ve been celebrating the rhythm and dance, Soli, which comes from the Susu people of Guinea, West Africa. Although we’ve switched to Kassa, on Tuesdays, there’s still one more chance (tonight!) to bust a move to Soli, with our fantastic drummers to put some heat beneath your feet.

Last week in dance class.

Last week in dance class.

Check out this VIDEO LINK on our Portland Maine West African Inspired Dance facebook page for inspiration!

Special news~ Our talented dancer and friend, Alison Green-Parsons will be selling some of her crafts in classes this week and next. Bring some extra cash and get holiday shopping done while supporting a local community member. 

Alison Green-Parson's beautiful hand made earrings and cloth covered journals.

Some of Alison’s beautiful hand-made gifts, from my own collection. 

It’s a good night for hearts to sing.

Exciting West African Dance Opportunities Coming Soon

A very special guest & my beloved teacher, Youssouf Koumbassa, will return here on June 20th, to teach an all-levels dance class @ the Mechanic’s Hall!


Youssouf brings incredible talent, breath-taking dancing and masterful teaching to this experience.

Live drumming in gorgeous Guinean rhythms will be provided by special guest drummers from Guinea – Namory Keita, Abdoulaye Toure- and beyond.

This is guaranteed to be a summer highlight!

Friday, June 20th, 2014, 6:00-7:30pm,

Mechanic’s Hall, 519 Congress St., 3rd floor, Portland, ME

$16 advance*/ $20 day of  

Additional opportunities to take drum and dance classes with Youssouf & Namory in Kittery, Maine on June 19th & 22nd, and Cambridge, MA, June 23rd. 

*Find out how to pre-register (by pre-paying) for Yousouf’s classes & sign up for the carpool to Kittery in either of our local classes or contact me.

I can’t wait to share this experience with you! 

Youssouf Koumbassa is returning to Portland, ME!

SAVE THE DATE ~ Friday, June 20th, 2014

Master dancer and teacher, Youssouf Koumbassa, is returning to Portland for a West African Dance workshop with live drumming lead by special guest, Namory Keita on djembe!

All levels are welcome ~ Youssouf makes class very accessible and always an unforgettable experience. Come dance with this amazing teacher and total treasure of a human being!


6-7:30pm @ the Mechanic’s Hall 519 Congress St, 3rd floor.

$16 in advance / $20 day of class

 Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

Click HERE and contact me to pre-register & please spread the word.        

See you there! 

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