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Afro-Cuban Dance represents a blending of African and European-American dance. The characteristics show the experience of African peoples in the Americas. Learning Afro-Cuban dance exposes students to the meaning of dance in Afro-Cuban culture and also builds personal awareness, as it transcends cultural boundaries. Dany’s will include multiple styles of dance in her classes:
YORUBAS: Nigerian dances representing deities that rule over the forces of nature. One of the more popular ethnic groups of the oral traditional culture in Cuba that tells their history through patakines (stories/legends).
CONGOS: Slave trafficking brought to Cuba men from different Bantu backgrounds. The culture of the Congos has an eminently magical character - they adore forces of nature. Their dances are strong and powerful. The songs are very important in their ceremonies, as in all manifestations of African origin.
DAHOMEYAN: Dances of Afro-Haitian origin that were introduced to Cuba at the end of the 18th century by immigrating black Haitians who settled in Eastern Cuba, primarily in Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. Their musical instruments and rhythms are derived from the mysteries and ceremonies of the Dahomey (present day Benin). The Creole songs retain their Haitian character and are unchanged from their original form.
Arturo Stable who grew up in Cuba and is now making waves on the creative scene in the U.S.A. Learn conga drum technique, and all about the rhythmic key of Cuban music: the clave.
The Advanced class is for students who have been playing traditional West African djembe for a long time and have a solid repertoire under their belts. Classes will move quickly through the basics and get right to the learning of advanced material, including solo material and more. Each teacher has a unique approach and we recommend trying a class with each of them! See “Class Levels” for more information. Classes are not sequential - you can jump into any session.
The Balafon from Africa is the original xylophone. Modern balafones are tuned to a diatonic Western scale and produce enjoyable melodies and harmonies in a funky, almost electronic sound.
The beginner class is for complete novices or folks who want to build technique and rhythmic sensibility - understanding how to subdivide a beat or play a ‘tone’. Students will learn traditional rhythms, the history and social context of the rhythm, and more. Each teacher has a unique approach and we recommend trying a class with each of them! See “Class Levels” for more information.
We are thrilled to have Mestre Jorge Alabê with us for the first time to share his deep knowledge of Brazilian music. Please visit the info desk for supplemental information on which class happens when.
Naçao Ketu Drums, Rhythm & Song (Afro-Brazilian)
The Ketu rhythms and songs associated with the religious ceremonies were brought by the Yoruba and took root in Bahia by way of the African Diaspora . In Afro Brazilian religion these rhythms and songs are played for specific Orixas ( Animistic Deities) allowing the Orixas to manifest themselves through the bodies of the ceremonial participants. Growing up steeped in the world of Candomble, Jorge Alabe carries and passes on this rich tradition through his singing , drumming and dance.
Naçao Angola Drums Rhythm & Song (Afro-Brazilian)
Originating in Congo and Angola these rhythms and songs took root in Bahia by way of the African Diaspora. In Afro Brazilian religion these rhythms and songs are played for specific Orixas ( Animistic Deities), allowing the Orixas to manifest themselves through the bodies of the ceremonial participants.
JeJe Drum, Rhythm and Song (Afro-Brazilian)
The JeJe rhythms and songs associated with the religious ceremonies were brought to Brazil from Dahomey (Benin) by the Fon people, taking root in Bahia by way of the African Diaspora. .
The deities and rhythms also manifest themselves in Haitian Vodun and similarities can be traced in Cuba and and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Samba De Caboclo Drums Rhythm and Song (Afro-Brazilian)
Samba De Caboclo utilizes the rhythms from Congo Angola and mixes it with Brazilian indigenous elements. Songs combine Portuguese with Kimbundu and Kikongo languages. The drums and songs are played for Indigenous Warrior and hunter spirits and
Samba De Roda Rhythm and Song
The first form of Samba with direct connections to Semba from Angola. Samba De Roda is a secular dance and music developed in Bahia and is the footprint for the many forms of Samba that developed throughout Brazil. Originally played with pandeiro and atabaque or clapping, other instruments like surdo and cavaquinho have been introduced over the years.
Samba Do Rio Bateria
This class focuses on Rio De Janeiro Carnaval Samba played for Carnaval parades by an escola de samba (Samba School). There are many Samba Schools that represent the many various communities throughout Rio De Janeiro. Jorge Alabe has a history with "Mocidade Independente De Padre Miguel," one of Rio's top Escola De Samba organizations. " Mocidade" was instrumental in introducing and creating the rhythm for Repinique that is used by most samba schools today, as well as the creation of longer elaborate breaks between the rhythms.
Classes with Quenia Ribeiro feature the various forms of Samba from Rio De Janeiro and Bahia - Samba No Pe, Miudinho, Samba Reggae, Samba Afro etc. In addition, Quenia introduces Afro-Brazilian dances and movements originating from Angola, Congo, Benin and Nigeria. Classes are always accompanied by live drums and are open to dancers of every level, age and experience.
This special gathering is what it’s all about. We invite everybody to the same big room to participate in a big class/experience sharing drum and dance between all the cultures. We’ll all come together at the end to experience Community - the driving force behind the Retreat.
This popular class explores the West African art of drumming while dancing. You must bring your own dundun, or have rented a dundun in advance on the Retreat website to be able to have a drum in this class (sometimes we have extras! Or you can always participate with air drumming!).
Learn a variety of techniques on Middle Eastern and North African frame drums like the Tar, Bendir, Ric, and more from Shane Shanahan of YoYo Ma’s Grammy award-winning Silk Road Ensemble.
Explore the power, grace, and athleticism of the dances of Guinea. Learn the social context and cultural background of the dances and enjoy moving across the floor to an ensemble of drummers. Beginning classes are designed for beginners; all other classes are open-level.
The gyil is an ancient marimba from West Africa. The left hand lines form the core of American R&B, jazz, and rock. The instrument is most prominent in Ghana, where Valerie Naranjo has traveled regularly and even won the Ghanaian Kobine Festival gyil competition! Explore the beginner classes, and then sign up (at the Info Desk - limited space!) for the Intermediate classes to go deeper.
This class is for students who have a good amount of experience with the djembe. Classes will move at a steady pace, breaking down a traditional rhythm, and may include accompaniment patterns, solo phrases, breaks, and the history and social context of the rhythm. See “Class Levels” for more information.
On Friday night and all day Saturday we offer classes for the youth of the Retreat! The youth will be chaperoned (under 6 years old requires parental supervision) throughout the schedule. Considering the wide age range, drum and dance instructors will teach a variety of rhythms and moves for everybody to enjoy. In addition, enjoy an art class taught by an elementary art teacher, and all that the Pocono Valley Resort has to offer - playgrounds, swimming, sports, and more! Featuring N’Ballou Bangoura (dance teacher), and Wade Peterson (drum teacher).
When you want to try out some of your new licks from class, take it to the facilitated drum circle, where you can play in a group of other jammers and find your rhythm. We also have nightly drum circles around the camp-fire (weather permitting) - come play!
Learn the subtleties of the Mali style with Djeneba Sako. You’ll learn how to control your body movements, the history of the dance, and how to express yourself in a beautiful way. Beginning classes are designed for beginners. All other classes are open-level.
In Brazil a Pagode is an informal jam session often played sitting down at a long table. Musicians, singers and composers share songs old and new, using percussion, guitar, and cavaquiñho. Come sing and dance with Quenia and musicians in the Dining Hall.
This beaded gourd is played in a variety of African and Afro-Diasporic traditions. A great way to find your rhythmic center or learn a funky new instrument. While singing and playing, expect some valuable wisdom and deep thoughts from Apache.
Every year we have a performance on Saturday night. This year the Saturday Night show is only the Faculty Performance. Come see astounding performances by all your new favorite teachers!
Enter the Wula Wellness area for a restorative experience in stretching, meditation, and mindfulness - the perfect way to center yourself and prepare for drum and dance. While Yoga or Meditation classes are not in session, the Wellness center is open for peace and quiet time.
All are welcome to gather around the fire, play, and dance. No teachers, no rules, just enjoy!
There are two large swimming pools that are heated (to a certain degree..) and very refreshing after dancing and drumming. There will be a lifeguard present during the pool hours on the schedule.
We have massage therapists! Make appointments for massages, paid by the minute. Look in the dining hall for how to make the appointment and contact information.
Yes, we have a zipline. Yes, it goes over the lake. Yes, you can ride it. Check the schedule for Zipline hours!
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