Beat the Winter Blues, Giving & Receiving

Click Here for Weekly Dance & Drum Class Details for Adults
Click Here for Children & Family Classes, Winter Session 2018

Do you have plans in place to stay warm and inspired, active and connected this winter?
One of my favorite ways to beat the blues is gathering with community for energetic movement and inspiring live music ~
There’s a lot of love here.

West African Dance & Drum is alive and thriving here in Maine, thanks to an incredible, ever-growing community. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for some big updates, relevant this month. 


Post Dundun Dance Class with Seny Daffe in Kittery, ME. November 30, 2017

We had a fantastic turnout for our special day of classes with Youssouf Koumbassa and Namory Keita in Portland last month, and a great class with Seny Daffe in Kittery last week.

Click here for Video from Seny Daffe’s dundun dance class, 11.30.17


Screenshot fromYKClass.Oct2017

Dance Class with Youssouf Koumbassa in Portland, ME. October 24, 2017


In the tradition of West African drum and dance,
there is a constant exchange.

Energy is given out by each dancer and drummer, and received in turn by each, as well as the rest of the community.


  • Embody the Rhythm founder, (yours truly) Marita Kennedy-Castro is returning to Guinea, West Africa December 31 for a dance intensive cultural immersion with Youssouf Koumbassa.

  • Click Here to Support First Aid supplies for Guinean Families
    I will return with photos and stories from those whom you’ve helped, and I’ll be on fire with new dances to share.
    Please donate before December 27th for First Aid supplies.

  • Click Here to Support your teacher’s immersion studies at Bagatai Dance/Drum

  • Click Here to Support Namory Keita’s Dream Project – Hamana Arts Center

  • NEW Winter Dance Class Sessions for Children & Families
    Beginning February 10th – 2 Age Groups – Details & Registration, here
  • NEW Gift Certificates for New Students –  $20 for 4 weeks of Tuesday night adult class. Give the gift of dance ~  Contact Marita by Dec 27 to order Gift Certificates
  • YOU’RE INVITED – Tuesday December 19th, will be our last class of 2017. Join Embody the Rhythm for a community potluck gathering right after dance class at the New Church. Bring your dinner, or something to share. Funds and First Aid items can be donated that evening as well.
  • No class Dec 26 * Classes Resume Jan 2nd and continue on, weekly! 
    Ashley Edmondson and Anne Esguerra, from New Moon Ensemble, will be subbing for Marita while she’s in Guinea.
    Our solid drummers will keep it hopping, so there’s no need to lose your groove.

Join the ever-growing community here at Embody the Rhythm!
All are welcome.

Our lively dance classes bring community together through the healing power of movement and music, and the gift of cultural exchange. Classes are designed for beginner students together with intermediate students. No experience necessary.

Click HERE for weekly adult dance class info

Namory, Liz, Youssouf & Marita (left to right) celebrating West African Dance & Drumming, alive, thriving and expanding in Maine.




Inhale, Exhale, Repeat.


Dance class will begin at 6pm, starting this week.
All-levels dance class with live drumming.  
Every Tuesday, 6-7:30pm
Come dance in Spring, 2017! What better time than now?
Loads of fun things being cooked up, behind the scenes, at Embody the Rhythm.
So much so, that this post needs to remain brief… Inhale, exhale, repeat.  Join me 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.



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! 

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