2017 Faculty

The Wula Drum and Dance Retreat Faculty represents some of the
most
influential drum and dance teachers in the world.

 

At Wula we are truly honored to work with these talented artists. They are internationally respected as expert performers and teachers, and many have been a part of the premier national cultural ensembles of their countries of origin. One comment we get a lot from retreaters is that they are surprised how accessible and friendly the teachers are. The Retreat faculty are happy to share their knowledge with us, and to see us all coming together to celebrate their cultures. Take some time to learn a little more about where each teacher comes from and all the great things they can teach you!


Djembe

M'Bemba Bangoura (Dundun dance/Djembe/Dundun)

Moussa Traore (Djembe/Dundun)

Bolokada Conde (Djembe)

Mangue Sylla (Sangban/Dundun)

Fode "Lavia" Camara (Djembe/Dundun)

Michael Markus  (Djembe/Dundun)

 

Dance

Youssouf Koumbassa (Guinea Dance)

Djeneba Sako (Mali Dance)

Marie Basse-Wiles (Sengal Dance)

M'Bemba Bangoura
(Guinea Dundun Dance)

Baba Richard Gonzales
(Afro-Caribbean)

Quenia Ribeiro (Brazilian Dance)

 

Percussion

Valerie Naranjo (Ghana Gyil)

Joe Galeota (Ghana Drumming)

Jose "Apache" Rivera (Shekere)

Famoro Dioubate (Balafon)

Nick Birmelin (Brazilian Drumming)

Shane Shanahan (Frame Drumming)

Tiga Jean Baptiste (Afro-Haitian Drumming)

Michael Pluznick (Jam Room Facilitator)

Accompanists

Abdoulaye Toure (Djembe/Dundun)

Arei Sekiguchi (Afro-Caribbean/Brazilian)

Dylan Blanchard (Afro-Caribbean/Brazilian)

Jimmy Cruiz (Afro-Caribbean/Brazilian)

Jean Mary Brignol (Afro-Caribbean)

Wula Wellness Staff

Jill Gallman (Massage/Body Work)

Roberta Evans (Massage/Body Work)

Coira Lee (Yoga/Meditation)


Retreat Director

Michael Markus is the President of Wula Drum, Inc.  

As a musician, artistic director and educator, he has spent over twenty years performing, teaching and studying West African, Afro-Cuban, and American styles of drumming. Along with a BFA in percussion, he has mentored with accomplished master indigenous artists and travels often to Guinea to learn more. Michael is a visionary and charismatic teacher having taught throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Michael has co-produced and released a CD of his previous group, Magbana, a series of 11 educational percussion CDs, a DVD of master drummers from Guinea.  And he is about to release a 16 rhythm download of complete rhythms and solos with M’bemba Bangoura. Recently he has developed Wula Records and just released his first Co-production with Famaro Dioubate: Kontendemi (Patience).

He has regularly developed and conducted workshops for National and International Percussion Conventions, master classes at various Universities, public and private schools, festivals, community centers, and everywhere in-between. He has also created commissioned pieces, composing and directing choreography for such groups as Ethos Percussion, which debuted his work at the Symphony Space in New York City, as well as Forces of Nature at the Apollo Theater. Recently, Michael has been the artistic director and lead percussionist for ‘100 Tambours De Nelson Mandela,’ an honorarium for the late great Nelson Mandela. They presented at several venues in Mexico, including the Zocalo Festival in Mexico City.  

Michael is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of cultural arts and socioeconomic development in Guinea, West Africa where he has based the production end of this company, Wula Drums, where authentically elegant and professional sounding African drums are crafted.


Faculty Biographies

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M’Bemba Bangoura, a native of Guinea, West Africa, began playing the djembe at the young age of seven. By the age of twenty-one, he was acclaimed as a master drummer and was invited to play for Ballet Djoliba, the national company of Guinea. He has traveled the world as a performer and teacher of the Djembe drum, and is revered for his high level of mastery. Since moving to the US in 1992, M’Bemba has become an integral part of the djembe drum and dance genre nationwide. As a featured guest artist at conferences, workshops, performances, and festivals, M’bemba has taught hundreds of students, many of who are now teachers themselves. In addition, he has personally created choreography and developed repertoire for dozens of dance companies worldwide. Working throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, his style is infectious. M’bemba has recorded 3 solo albums to date, as well as a 2 volume educational DVD entitled ‘Wamato: Everybody Look!’

Dedicated to teaching drumming, dancing, and his culture, M’Bemba is one of the most prominent ambassadors for Guinean drum and dance.

Youssouf Koumbassa is a former artist of Ballet Djoliba, the National Ballet of Guinea. Born and raised in Guinea, West Africa, Youssouf began dancing at the age of six. Youssouf's father is from the Landuma people and his mother from the Baga/Susu people.

Youssouf has traveled extensively throughout West Africa, Japan, Bangladesh, India, Holland, Hungary, Russia, Korea, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Since moving to the United States twenty-two years ago, Youssouf has established himself as the pre-eminent teacher of dance from Guinea. He now travels widely throughout the world as a much sought after master teacher at dance conferences, workshops, camps and schools. His classes are attended by a large and loyal following who are appreciative of his mercurial energy and grace.

Youssouf is meticulous in acknowledging the source of this material and insists on a high level of understanding and respect for the form among his students. He travels to Guinea regularly, taking students on dance trips and returns to the United States with the latest developments in contemporary dance so that his teaching is always a mixture of traditional work and the dances that infuse popular culture. He is easy to learn from and suitable for all levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced dancers.

Djeneba Sako was born in Bamako, Mali, and began her journey with dance and music at the young age of 5. She started dancing professionally at age 11 with the Bienal District Troupe. She danced with them for eight years, during which time they won the National biannual Dance Competition four times in a row. From there she went to the District of Bamako troupe, where she performed for another eight years, touring internationally.

She has worked with prominent Malian artists such as Mamadou Kante,  Djenebah Seck, Nanou Koul, Abdoulaye Diabate, Molubaly Traore, and Karim Coulibaly. She is one of only three best Malian dance teachers here in the US, of which she is the only woman. In high demand, she is often traveling and teaching at conferences, workshops, and festivals around the USA, sharing the culture of Mali through music, song, and dance. It is no wonder why she is so sought after, as Djeneba has an unique style, radiant, positive, and encouraging.

Quenia Ribeiro is a dancer, choreographer and dance instructor from Rio de Janeiro Brazil with over 25 years of experience in the field. Quenia has performed Samba and Afro Brazilian Dance in Greece, Brazil, and throughout the United States. She has been featured in interviews and performances broadcast on PBS, ABC, WPIX, Telemundo and Fox 5 television. As a dance instructor she has been teaching Samba and Afro Brazilian Dance in NYC since 1997. Quenia has worked extensively in the public and private school system with children and teens teaching Brazilian Dance and Creative Movement (in both NYC and Brazil). Classes with Quenia include elements drawn from her background in Ballet as well as her 10 years of Capoeira training. Currently Quenia Ribeiro choreographs and directs her own Dance Company, “Grupo Ribeiro”. This year she celebrates a decade of teaching 5 weekly open classes at the Ailey Extension in New York City. Her reputation as an innovative leader in the instruction of Brazilian Dance has been furthered by her series of 4 instructional dvd’s that have been marketed worldwide as well as the Idancesamba instructional app available on itunes.

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Moussa Traore was born and raised in Mali, West Africa. He has been playing the djembe for over thirty years. In 1984, after completing a twelve-year apprenticeship, he was deemed a "master" by his teacher, Sega Cisse. Steeped in the culture and traditions, Moussa has achieved great recognition throughout Mali as an accomplished musician. As a diverse artist, Moussa has performed  in the theater, traditional ceremonies, the ballet, as well as the Malian pop scene. Among musicians from Bamako, Moussa is currently considered to be one of the top djembe players in the country.

Since moving to the Boston, Moussa continues to distinguish himself as a highly respected teacher and performer. He offers drum workshops nationwide, from universities, schools, festivals, conferences, and everything in-between. Nicknamed the ‘Malian Dragon,’ he must be witnessed to understand his style and why he is one of the best of the best.

Moussa has recorded 3 CDS to date, “Mali Foli’, “Dakan” and recently, "Mali Kan." He is currently working on a new educational project with Wula Drum to be released by early 2015.

Bolokada Conde is a true Master Djembefola (master drummer), expert of Malinke Rhythms and is highly sought after worldwide.  Originally from the Sankaran region of Guinea, West Africa, Bolokada was a young musical prodigy who grew to become the premier djembe player in major village celebrations in the region.

Soon after being discovered, Bolokada joined the world famous Les Percussion du Guinee to replace the legendary Nomoudy Keita as their lead drummer. He traveled and performed in major performance venues all over the world since 1996 and was featured in the IMAX movie PULSE: a Stomp Odyssey.  Since 2004, he has been performing and teaching in the United States.

He has conducted percussion workshops all over the US, Europe, and Asia.  He has released two musical CD's Morowaya and Sankaran and is the subject of an upcoming documentary "Bolokada Conde- Malinke Village Djembefola”.  He recently moved to Greenville South Carolina and they are lucky to have him.

Marie Basse-Wiles was born in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. The granddaughter of Bambara singer and dancer Maimouna Keita, Marie began her professional career at the age of 9. She began teaching at the age of 12 as a member of the Ballet National of Senegal. Her professional accomplishments include resident work with Kinne N'Diaye Rose, daughter of master drummer Dou Dou N'Diaye Rose, and Papa Dougoufana Traore, as well as renowned choreographers Mamadou N'Diaye, Demba Diallo, Oumy Sene and Raymon Sylla. Her international touring experience includes performances with the Ballet National of Senegal and Koumpo Dance Company, under the direction of Ibrahima Camara. She has won numerous awards for her commitment to the community and accomplishments in dance. She has created numerous ballets throughout her career as well as a piece for The Center For Traditional Music and Dance "Bedenya 97" Festival that is archived at the New York Public Library's Performing Arts Library. 

 

One the three premiere balaphonists in the West at this time, Famoro Dioubate born in 1965 in Conakry, Guinea as a Griot (family artists who keep the history and traditions of the people). He is the grandson of El Hadj Djelli Sory Kouyate, a living legend of the Mandeng Balafon. In Conakry he co-founded "Les Heritiers" with Sekouba Kandia Kouyate and recorded the albums "Kandia Dinke" and "Nyoumekela" with this group. Famoro was the understudy of his grandfather in the Ensemble Instrumental National (National ensemble of Guinea) and routinely performed for the President and visiting foreign dignitaries. He was a member of the famous Mory Kante's orchestra for the performances and recording of the Traditional Symphonie. 

Famoro made a strong name for himself and moved to the United States in the late nineties. He is in high demand as a free-lance musician, playing everywhere from nightclubs to Carnegie Hall. 

Joe Galeota is a performer and educator based in Boston, MA, and is married to his beautiful Ghanaian wife, Vida.  He is currently an associate professor at Berklee College of Music (1995), and an adjunct professor at Tufts University (1998) and the Hartt School of Music.   Joe began studying African music in 1979 at the University of Ghana where he pursued a masters’ degree in Ethnomusicology. There he had the privilege to study under such masters as Godwin Agbeli, Foli Adade, Gideon Midawo Alorwe, Abubakari Luna, and many others.  

Since that time, Joe has made yearly trips to Ghana with students exploring and learning new forms of Ghanaian music and more recently has studied with Bernard Woma, Mohammed Alidu, and Attah Poku.   In addition to perfecting music from English speaking West Africa, Joe yearned to learn more about French West Africa as well. In January 2012, Joe traveled to Guinea with M’Bemba Bangoura and Michael Markus and studied music and dance from that region for 3 weeks.  That was an eye-opening experience and life changing as you can imagine.   Joe has been a performer and educator throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa since 1972. He has taught numerous workshops, clinics, and residencies for all age groups.

Joe has extensive experience in performance using both percussion and drum set. Some highlights include the percussion for Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, and sampling sessions with Kurzweil and Sonic Implants, Terri Lyne Carrington, and AR Rahman. Joe is also the CEO and founder of JAG DRUMS (1984), an internationally acclaimed manufacturing company of professional West African drums.  Some endorses include, Alex Acuna, George Jinda, Blue Man Groups, and the Lion King NY.

tiga

 For Tiga Jean Baptiste, music is a family tradition. At a young age, this eclectic artist began drumming at various events in Haiti with his father Bonga, master of the Haitian drum. With the help of famed Haitian Jazz saxophonist Thurgot Theodat, Tiga soon began to master a variety of Haitian wind instruments, as well as the Australian didjeridoo, and the Mbira from the Shona people of Zimbabwe.

Staying true to his Haitian roots, Tiga has worked with many of Haiti's most respected artists, including Emeline Michel, Jean-Paul Bourelly and Bonga. He has also successfully ventured outside of tradition, performing with artist from Zimbabwe: Thomas Mapfumo, Stella Chiweshe, Chiwoniso Maraire. Also has performed with Grammy award winner John Legend, and Grace Jones. He has been touring in Krakow, Poland; Dakar, Senegal; Quebec Canada; St. Maarten in the Caribbean; Puerto Rico; and at the New Orleans Jazz Festival with famed artist Wyclef Jean.

With his band of 5 years Tchaka, this artist's versatility shines. Tchaka, a traditional Haitian dish, is created by mixing various ingredients together. The band is a mix of Haitian as well as Shona music from Zimbabwe, or "Shona Kreyol." The myriad styles Tiga has mastered are blended to create a rich musical landscape, as eclectic and satisfying as the dish.

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Mangue Sylla was born in Conakry, Guinea in and started playing music at the age of 7. Although he is Susu, he learned the traditional Malinke music on the Sangban from a group of master Malinke drummers. This gave him a great foundation in the music and the ability to progress quickly.

In 1993 Mangue joined the well known ballet troupe: "Les Merveilles de Guinee”. This provided him the opportunity to travel throughout Africa and study under the leadership of the late great Kemoko Sano. In 1998 Mangue moved to the US and has made quite a name for himself.  He keeps a busy schedule performing, and teaching at most major dance conferences nationwide. He also works with numerous organizations including, but not limited to:  Alvin Ailey Arts in Ed, Wula Drum and Dance NYC, Drum Cafe, Marylin's Bamdulaye, and Nandy's Sankofa Kuumba Cac (summer program for children).

In Addition, Mangue will be staring in a new Off Broadway production: The Legend of Yuana. They are debuting at BAM in February, 2015, with the hopes of going on to Broadway soon there after.

Fode "Lavia" Camara began his drum training at the age of five under Master Drummer Fatouabou Camara in Guinea, West Africa. In 1998 an international search for the world’s best West African musicians was conducted by Mamadou Mansour, Director of Les Ballets d’Afrique Noire, to take part in a production entitled Mandinka Epic. Fode was chosen as the lead Djembe player in the internationally celebrated production, which enjoyed a 32-city world tour. 

Fodé currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. Fodé teaches annually at Kumandi African Drum and Dance Camp and tours nationally and internationally as an instructor, choreographer, and guest artist. He honors his family through his artistic expression of Guinea’s musical traditions!

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Percussionist/composer/arranger Shane Shanahan has combined his studies of drumming traditions from around the world with his background in jazz, rock and Western art music to create his own unique style.  Since 2000 he has been touring around the globe performing with Yo-Yo Ma as an original member of Grammy-Nominated Silk Road Ensemble.  His arrangements and compositions are featured on several of the group’s recordings for Sony Classical and he can be heard and seen on Mr. Ma's Grammy Award Winning holiday CD/DVD release, "Songs of Joy And Peace."  He has performed and/or recorded with Bobby McFerrin, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Philip Glass, Alison Krauss, Deep Purple, Jordi Savall, Sonny Fortune, Chaka Khan, and Glen Velez, among others. Shane’s dynamic performances have brought people to their feet in the greatest concert halls of the world, including Carnegie Hall, after which the New York Times proclaimed, “By the time he finished in a virtuosic jester’s dance, limbs flying as he whirled back and forth between doumbek, cymbals and body parts, the audience roared with delight.”  He has also performed twice for President and First Lady Obama, including once at the White House.  

A strong believer in the transformative power of education, Shane frequently presents workshops and clinics at the world’s leading universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Cornell.  He is a Guest Artist at the Hartt School and is also the Lead Teaching Artist for the Silk Road Project’s arts-integrated education initiative, Silk Road Connect.  Shane collaborates actively with the dance, theatre and yoga communities in the New York area and while not on tour, he teaches drumming classes in Brooklyn. He has also played in the pit orchestras of several Broadway shows including Caroline, or Change, The Color Purple, Shrek, Spider-Man, Fun Home, and, opening in the Spring, Tuck Everlasting.  

“The fancy rhythmic riffs percussionist Shane Shanahan thumped out on his chest, belly, thighs and face had the crowd erupting in astonished cheers.”
-Chicago Tribune

www.shaneshanahan.com

Jimmy Cruiz is a master percussionist and flute player, a powerful performer of Afro-Cuban, Carribean and Latin music. He is a founder of the Spirit Ensemble which has established itself as the primary source for music that traverses the African Diaspora. The enchanting sounds of the mbira, kora, steel pan and bamboo flute comprise the essence of Spirit's sound and provide the foundation for rhythmic travels. Each member of the ensemble is a master percussionist who has dedicated his life to the study and sharing of this music, and the magnitude to their devotion is evident to all who experience their performances. 

Born in Conakry, Guinea, Abdoulaye Toure began drumming at 10 years old.  In time he became well versed in the traditional music of his country, excelling in playing djembe, kenkeni, sangban and dundun drums and krin.  He has performed with Guinea’s highly acclaimed National Ballet Djoliba and with Papa Kouyate’s Les Petits Sorcier, traveling throughout West Africa including Gambia and Mali.  Abdoulaye has apprenticed with some of the most respected teachers in Guinea:  Papa Kouyate, and Sekou Conde.  In 2012 he recorded with Solo Keita playing dundun, djembe and krin, and in 2013 he recorded with Mohamed Diarra playing dundun drums.  Currently based in New York, Abdoulaye teaches a weekly drum class and is in growing demand as a working musician.  He has worked with several well known and respected Guinean artists and teachers such as Youssouf Koumbassa, M’Bemba Bangoura, and Mouminatou Camara. 

Baba Richard González is a professional dancer from Puerto Rico, specializing in traditional dance from Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. His educational background includes Katherine Dunham technique and Haitian folklore at the New York City based studios Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and at Steps on Broadway. Mr. González is founder of the award-winning OCHUMARE Dance Ensemble. He tours extensively, teaching, and performing throughout the United States and the Caribbean, including the Colorado Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Omega Institute, and the New Orleans African Heritage Dance Festival at Tulane University. His commitment to the rich traditions of the Caribbean fuels his passion for documenting Afro-Caribbean dances and ensuring their preservation through performance and education. He is a priest in the Regla de Ocha de los Lucumí, a position that informs his research into both the ritual and the secular dances of the Caribbean.

Baba Gonzalez is recognized world wide as the most prominent master teacher of Afro-Caribbean folkloric dance.

Tokyo-native Arei Sekiguchi took up drums after early studies in classical piano and marimba. His first exposure to international performance came through tours of the U.S. and Europe with Up With People at the age of 18. Later he moved to NYC to further study music. He received a BFA from the New School University under the guidance of jazz Legends  such as Bobby Sanabria, Chico Hamilton, Reggie Workman, and Charles Tolliver. He has also studied privately with some of the most sought after drummers in the world: Michael Carvin, Jorge Alabe and Antonio Sanchez. He has performed at various festivals and venues all over the United States including River to the River Festival (NYC), Carnegie Hall, Whitney Museum, and the National Gallery of Art and Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Arei has recorded for labels such as Sony Japan, and Clean Feed(Portugal).  Besides performing and touring, he actively teaches in Schools as well as privately throughout New York City. He has also been a regular accompanist for the Afro-Brazilian Dance Class (led by Quenia Ribeiro) at Alvin Ailey for the last eight years. Currently he is a regular member of a Salsa-Bugalu band, Spanglish Fly, as well as a Brazilian band Os Clavelitos.

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Nick Birmelin is a percussionist, musician and educator with over 20 years experience playing and researching the music and rhythms of Brazil. As an instructor he has taught extensively to adults and kids of every age. He has taught drum workshops in a wide variety of settings including College of Charleston, Alvin Ailey Extension and the Museum School. For the past 7 years he has been on faculty at the Turtle Bay School in Manhattan, teaching Percussion, Drum set and Orff Music Classes for children. As a co- founder and musical director of Grupo Ribeiro Productions (along with Quenia Ribeiro) he has produced music for choreography, instructional dvd’s and computer applications. In 2012 he released his CD “ Brazilian Percussion for Dancers”. Currently he works regularly as the musical director for Brazilian Dance classes at the Alvin Ailey Extension in NYC. 

Jose "Apache" Rivera has played folkloric music throughout the five boroughs of New York's cultural melting pot since the age of eleven. He has been quoted, "I will spend the rest of my life searching for peace, love, and harmony. I play and make percussion Instruments as a form of prayer and meditation. Each one of my Instruments are embraced with prayers and gratitude." This statement rings true and clear in his music and his teaching. Apache will have hand made Shekeres available for purchase at the Wula Drum Retreat.

Dylan Blanchard was born and raised in the North Shore of Massachusetts, and first dipped his little toes in the waters of rhythm there whence a benevolent man introduced him to some basic West African rhythms after church.  A long time later, he has been fortunate enough to have traveled to the cities of Santos and Salvador in Brazil, and La Habana and Matanzas in Cuba, studying the music and culture of those places. Currently his path has taken him to New York City, where he continues his studies in Afro-Caribbean music (mostly from Cuba, and from Brazil and Puerto Rico as well) in a community of great talent, history, and passion. With respect for the traditions and cultures that we feed on, he hopes through this music he can transmit encouragement for the health and well-being of us all, and a feisty good time every once in a while.

Known for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard percussion music, Valerie Dee Naranjo was the first woman to play gyil (African marimba) in public in Ghana, and has been the only non-West African to win the Ghanaian Kobine Festival gyil competition. She has lived in New York since 1981, plays percussion for NBC’s Saturday Night Live band, arranged African percussion for Broadway’s The Lion King, and has performed at 10 PASIC conventions, and on six continents solo, with The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, Carole King, The Paul Winter Consort, Zakir Hussein, and others. She travels to West Africa annually to keep her hand on the pulse of contemporary gyil art. 

Valerie  compiled the published transcriptions "West African Music for the Marimba Soloist", "Joro" a series of works for Gyil and Orchestra, and 10 CDs. Valerie teaches Gyil and other West African Percussion at New York University, and was named Drum! Magazine's  "World Percussionist of the Year" 2003 and 2008, and “Mallet player of the Year” 2012. 


Jam Room Facilitator

Michael Pluznick is a multi-percussionist specializing in djembe, dunun, congas, shekere and bongo rhythms and techniques. He has traveled, studied, performed and taught all over the world. In the last 40 years he has lived and studied the rhythms and culture in Cuba, Brazil, Mali, Guinea, India and Puerto Rico. He has also studied in the USA with many of todays great masters and was one of only 2 American soloists in Bolokada Condes performance group, Les Percussions Melenke as well as many others.

Michael has also been a session musician in the recording studio and played with many top artists as well as having his own music produced on several different record labels in the 80's and 90's.

He is a patient, knowledgable and gifted teacher, very fun to work and play with. Do to his very diverse background and experiences with many styles he has developed the unique ability to bridge and fuse the gap between drum circle and traditional people alike.

For a more comprehensive bio please visit:  www.michaelpluznick.com


Wula Wellness

Jill Galman has been providing massage/bodywork services for twenty years.  Her approach is dynamic, and the culmination of continuous study and practice of many modalities.  A long time student of dance and drum, she understands the physical demands placed on the body, and will help you to keep dancing and drumming through the weekend.

 

Roberta Evans is a massage therapist with an extensive medical and spiritual background. She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania where she majored in Respiratory Therapy. After graduation Ms. Evans worked as Critical Care Therapist for twelve years, refining teaching skills in the “Subtle Form of the Breath”. Living in Sedona, AZ, (the Mecca of Spirituality in the USA) for ten years allowed Roberta to galvanize all her interests and training. She holds over fifteen licenses and certificates in different modalities. Ms. Evans' friends call her Mohumbey, which means “Hands of Mother Earth”.

 
Coira Lee Wula Faculty

Korean by descent, Singapore raised, and American born, Coira Lee is a creative yogi and dancer with a “live-what-you-preach” mentality. She loves seeing movement as a way to harness chi through the energetic and physical body. She has a 15 year dance background, training all over the world with Alvin Ailey, American Academy of Ballet, and Korea National Ballet, to name a few.  She also has extensive contemporary training under the best teachers in Graham technique, Horton, Contact Improvisation and Gaga.

The language she uses in her yoga class is often heavily influenced by her extensive training in dance, chi-gong, and the Iyengar practice.  She loves to fuse different forms of movement into her vinyasa flow. With passion, she hopes to build a healthy community while helping people gain body-awareness and tap into their chi/prana by offering fun new ways of connecting breath with movement. 


Wula Drum Staff

Damian Allegretti  is the shipping coordinator and office manager for Wula Drum. Born into a musical family, Damian was always surrounded by music. He began playing the drums at age seven. By his early teens, Allegretti was playing drums in a rock band, but outside he was being exposed to other kinds of music like jazz and African music.

He studied drums with Kenny Washington, Gregory Hutchinson, Clarence Penn, Rodney Green, Barry Alstchul, and John Wooton. Musical Composition with Guillermo Klein, and African percussion with Abdoulaye Badiané (Senegal) and M’Bemba Bangoura (Guinea).

Damian Allegretti currently lives in New York City, where he teaches and leads his own group.

Ibrahim "Le Grand" Bangoura works at Wula Drum in the Shipping department as has helped lead Wula workshops for kids. He is originally from Guinea, West Africa, where a lot of the sounds you'll hear at the Retreat originated.

You may find Le Grand hanging out making tea and listening to music from Guinea - say hello!

 
Hasan Bakr Wula Drum Staff

A percussionist, singer, and composer, Hasan Bakr found his first musical expressions in the tonal arts of the drum.  He has studied in the master–teacher discipline for most of his adult life with such notables as Chief Bey (shekere and bell), Babafeami (Conga), Nana Vasconcelos (berimbau and caxixi), Little Ray Romero (timbales), and M'Bemba Bangoura (Djembe).  While actively pursuing a career in drumming, Hasan molded a unique vocal ability that landed a position as lead singer in the legendary Spirit Ensemble and HeritageOP, both New York based percussion ensembles.

Hasan is a natural musician and has a 22-year history in conducting African musical instrument demos, student assembly programs, in- school artist residencies and youth empowerment workshops.  He is also a 1998 Ethnic Dance Award Recipient.   He has performed with a number of artists including The Winard Harper Sextet, Snow, Hassan Hakmoum, Zimbabwean Mbira Master Ephat Mujuru, Salieu Suso, Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya, The Meditations, Veiux Diop and many more.   As a composer, he has penned a collection of works for dance and the media arts with a co- writer’s credit on the film, "Brooklyn Babylon.