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!

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:

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

Drum (& Dance) With 5-gallon Buckets in August

I’m excited to offer 3 Drum/Dance workshops in August ~ Mondays: August 11, 18 & 25th

Join the fun and learn a rhythm and dance in a style inspired by West African dundun dancing. We will be drumming with drumsticks on 5 gallon buckets, and a few dundun drums will be provided for students to experience as well.

Those who wish to drum, but are not yet ready to dance, are also welcome!


Bucket Drumming and Dancing


Dundun dancing in the traditional style

Dundun dancing in the traditional style


August 11, 18 & 25th


$10 per workshop
Come to all 3 (get solid on the rhythms), and there’ll be potential to perform for First Friday Art Walk on September 5th!

If it’s SUNNY~
Fort Sumner Park, 60 North St., Portland, ME

If it’s RAINY~
U.U. Church, 425 Congress St., Portland, ME

*Pre-registration is advised, so we can assure there’s room for everyone.*

5 gallon bucket & set of drumsticks.
A limited number of 5 gallon buckets and drumsticks will be provided. Please let me know if you’d like to reserve a set.

It is best to wear clothing that provides you with ease of movement, bring a water bottle and stay hydrated.

*Tell your friends*

We also have 2 weekly classes in West African Inspired Dance ongoing throughout the summer. Click HERE for more information.

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! 

Youssouf Koumbassa & Namory Keita Coming to Portland, ME!

Still buzzing from an amazing day of Guinean drum & dance yesterday, I am thrilled to announce that master Guinean artist, Youssouf Koumbassa, will be returning to Portland, Maine on a mini New England tour and teaching class here on Thursday, October 31st, accompanied by master djembefola, Namory Keita!!

Please help me to spread the word!

Youssouf teaching in Guinea, 2012

Youssouf teaching in Guinea, 2012

Namory in Guinea, West Africa

Namory in Guinea, West Africa

Join us at Maine Ballroom Dance Studio for an exciting night of dancing and drumming!

* Thursday, Oct 31st 2013 *  7:30pm *  $15-$20 sliding scale * Please pre-register a.s.a.p. & reserve your spot by contacting Marita Kennedy-Castro *

*Youssouf will be in New England for 4 days in a row and for 2 consecutive weekends!*

Wednesday October 30th ~ Brattleboro, VT, 7-8:30pm @ Brattleboro Stone Church:

Thursday October 31st ~ Portland, ME 7:30-9pm @ Maine Ballroom Dance Studio:

Friday November 1st ~ Kittery, ME 7-8:30pm @ The Dance Hall: Seacoast West African Dance & Drum

Saturday November 2nd ~ Cambridge, MA @ The Dance Complex (details TBA)

$15-$20 sliding scale for all Locations

The following weekend catch Youssouf and many, many more talented artists from Guinea at JEH KULU’S ANNUAL WEST AFRICAN DANCE & DRUM FESTIVAL in Burlington, VT! Pre-registration is open. Join the fun!

Falling into the arms of Autumn

This month in class I look forward to sharing Djolé with you as the leaves continue to change to lively reds, oranges, and yellows throughout the month. The energetic dance, Djolé, comes from the Timiné people of Sierra Leone. 

Here’s a preview of Djolé~

There are a number of exciting Guinean drum and dance opportunities coming to Maine this month:

*This Saturday, October 5th, we’ll welcome 3 fantastic Guinean artists: Sidiki Sylla, Ismael Bangoura and Mangue Sylla to the Dance Hall in Kittery (link here for details) … AND … 

*Thursday Oct 31st, we’ll welcome Youssouf Koubassa back to Maine Ballroom Dance Studio in Portland accompanied by Namory Keita ~ I couldn’t be more pleased!

Let’s pack the studios and give these artists a warm welcome so they’ll come again and again~

Please mark your calendar & spread the word!

See you on the dance floor!  

Classes with Sidiki Sylla & Ismael Bangoura, April 6th

Sidiki Sylla and Ismael Bangoura

Of Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theatre are returning to the Dance Hall in Kittery, Saturday April 6th for classes

Don’t miss these gifted instructors!


1:00-2:30 pm  Drum Class with Ismael Bangoura

2:45 -4:15 pm  Dance class with Sidiki Sylla

Cost: $15 per class

For more information or to register ahead for the classes contact:

Liz Fowler-Camara

There is nothing like the sweet opportunity to study with the masters in West African dance, and it only happens in Maine a few times a year. These teachers are fantastic!

Join the carpool from Portland by adding your name to the carpool list at our weekly class, or email:


Fire Dancing and Dundun Dancing Workshops in October

Come learn or add to your skills in the art of *FIRE DANCING* (Poi) and *DUNDUN DANCING* in October!

**Please get in touch, SIGN UP and spread the word! We need a minimum number of students to pre-register. **

I can’t wait to share these exciting forms of dance with you!



FIRE DANCING/POI WORKSHOPS ~ Mondays October 1st & 15th @ 5pm

Location: The fields on Back Bay (Just to the right of the parking lot across from Hannaford, in Portland)

“Poi” comes from the Maori tribe in New Zealand. It is dancing done with two flaming wicks attached to the ends of chains, which you  learn to dance with so as to create a beautiful flow of firelight. I have been dancing with fire for 12 years and would love to share this art with you! For the workshops you will learn without fire, using practice poi (to keep you safe). If you decide it is a style and skill you would like to pursue further I will teach you to make your own set of poi that you can add fire to.

Please SIGN UP for one or both workshops by contacting me, and indicate the date/s you’ll attend. We’ll need a minimum number of students to pre-register. Each Poi workshop is $12. You’ll need a pair of *long* tube socks and 2 tennis balls to create your practice set of poi!


DUNDUN DANCING WORKSHOPS ~ Sundays October 21st & 28th @ 5pm

Location: Maine Ballroom Dance Studio, 614 Congress St. in Portland

Dundun dancing comes from West Africa and is an exciting combination of drumming and dancing. The dancers use drum sticks to play the big bass drums, with dance movements interspersed. The bass drums are referred to as Dunduns, DounDouns, or Dununs. In this workshop we’ll be drumming on 5 gallon buckets, unless you have your own Dundun to bring along.

Please SIGN UP for one or both workshops by contacting me, and indicate the date/s you’ll attend. We’ll need a minimum number of students to pre-register. Each Dundun dance workshop is $14. A limited number of drum sticks and 5 gallon buckets will be provided. Please indicate whether you will need sticks and/or a bucket~ Thanks!

Here is a fun sampling of Dundun dancing:


Please help me to reach more people in our community who might enjoy our weekly class in West African inspired dance!  There are perks in it for all:

For the rest of 2012, if you introduce a friend to class and they return to buy a 4 class pass, you’ll receive an $8 discount on a 4 class pass for yourself. Be sure to let us know when you check in, that you are introducing this friend to class – Let’s share in the fun!

New: Your student ID will get you a $2 discount per class (after the 1st already discounted class). This applies to drop-ins and 4 class passes.

Also, I am a member of our fantastic community barter system, Hour Exchange Portland. You can always pay 1/2 price (all funds going to the drummers) plus 1 time dollar (to me) for class. 
Make sure to stay in the loop for lots of amazing classes coming up with guest teachers from Guinea, and talented local artists as well by keeping an eye on the page: Related Events and Classes
I hope to dance with all of you very soon!

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