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!
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.
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.
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 "Mali Kan."
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.
Born in Tivaoune, Senegal, master drummer Mar Gueye is the son of Bouboucar Gueye and N'dambe Thioune, both of respected musical families known as N'guewel to the Wolof people. At the age of eight, Mar went to Senegal's capital, Dakar, to study and work with his uncle, renowned sabar drummer Dou Dou n'diaye Rose. By 1973, Mar had entered the Senegalese National School of the Arts and soon found himself playing with the Ballet National de Senegal. In 1976 he joined the Ballet d'Afrique Noire. By the time Mar had become a master of many drumming styles from Senegal and other parts of West Africa, including Sabar and the Djembe complex of dances.
From 1980 through 1986 Mar toured and performed at international events such as the Dijon Festival, and the Festival de Nance as well as the Vancouver Percussion Festival. Following this period he moved to New York and founded the N'guewel School of the Arts which helped to galvanize the network of Senegalese communities between New York and Washington D.C..
Amoung the constellation of internationally renowned Senegalese artists, Mar has worked witth Youssou N'Dour, Tambour Brombg and Roots Talibe. In addition to his work within the Senegalese musical community, he has worked with a vast range of prominent musicians from diverse musical arenas including the Rolling Stones, Ziggy Marley, and jazz saxophonist David Sanborn. Since 1992 he has regularly recorded and toured with the World Saxophone Quartet. Also Mar frequently reunites with the World Saxophone Quartet and reunites with his uncle Dou Dou N'daiye Rose for tours in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Michael Pluznick is an accomplished world percussionist, performer and music producer originaly from New Jersey, who has traveled the world studying, performing and recording as well as teaching various forms of percussion. Over the course of many years has studied on numerous trips with master drummers in Brazil, West Africa, Cuba, India and Puerto Rico as well as in the USA and Canada.
He has been hand drumming and studying since 1972 and teaching for over 35 years. His teaching credits include stints at Sonoma State University (CA) (teacher and guest lecturer), Univ. of California (at Santa Cruz) and Yamaha (Japan) as well as many other places around the world. He has recorded with members of the Grateful Dead, Santana, Todd Rundgren and many others.
His own album “Rythym Harvest” was in Billboard’s “Top 20” albums while “Where The Rain is Born” won top honors as well. Michael now teaches drumming and produces various forms of music for events, productions and performances.
Michael will be teaching beginning djembe classes at Wula Drum and Dance Retreat as well as facilitating the Jam Room. He will also be camp photographer and videographer.
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 endorsers include Alex Acuna, George Jinda, Blue Man Groups, and the Lion King NY.
Gaston Jean-Baptiste, known as "Bonga", is a musical virtuoso who has been performing and studying traditional Haitian drum, dance and song since the age of seven. He began playing drums in his family's peristil in his hometown of Croix-des-Mission in La Plaine, an area of Haiti known for culture and history.
Bonga is regarded as a master of the Afro Haitian drum, sought-after for his extensive repertoire of pan-African rhythms. A dynamic performer, accompanist, session player and educator, Bonga works on stage, in the recording studio, and in educational settings. He is one of the few drum experts and craftsmen outside of Haiti who continues to build traditional drums using techniques that are centuries old.
As a core member of the seminal Haitian roots bands, Boukman Eksperyans and Foulà, Bonga was invited to the U.S. in the '90s when musicians were becoming a strong voice for the Haitian people. Since then, Bonga has continued to play solo and in ensemble and at numerous worldwide venues. He is a featured performer with Peter Yarrow, Grace Jones, Dan Zanes and Urban Tap, to mention a few. His drums opened the NY premiere of the Rolling Stones "Voodoo Lounge" tour and he is prominently featured on recordings by Wyclef Jean and Salif Keita.
Bonga’s first CD, Kanzo (2000), incorporates elements of jazz, blues, and funk to create a dynamic version of mizik rasin. The recording features Lou Reed, bassist Fernando Saunders, and trumpeter Frank London. Bonga’s second CD, Ayiti Afrika (2006), received critical acclaim. Featuring cellist Rufus Cappadocia, multi instrumentalist Peck Allmond and Guinean balafonist, Famoro Dioubate, Ayiti Afrika explores the African roots of Haitian music.
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.
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.
Babara Bangoura was born in Guinea and is half Soussou and half Malinké.
As only a young child in Conakry, he joined the Ensemble des Percussions de Guinée Junior. And subsequently the Djoliba National Ballet Company. He has lived in Belgium since 1999.
A spiritual heir of the great Guinean master Mamady Keïta, he passes on the Guinean tradition and art of the djembe.
Both musician and teacher, Babara travels throughout the world giving workshops and concerts, some of these with the legendary Sewa Kan ensemble.
Groups specializing in musical styles from jazz to electro have also welcomed him, recording several of his compositions on their own albums.
He is also the founder of the International North-South Cultural Exchange Festival. This festival takes place in Conakry and provides musicians from all over the world with the opportunity to share their passion for the traditional Mandinke music and dance.
As a djembefola, Babara is dedicated to promote Mamady Keita’s message: music has no boundaries and the djembe does not know skin color or nationality and cannot be an obstacle for meeting other cultures.
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!
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.
N'Camara Abou Sylla was born in 1958, in Guinea, West Africa. The large family musical clans are called DJELI. They are specified by their last names, i.e., Kouyate, Diabate, Camara, etc. Abou was surrounded by these ancestral styles from birth. His style in the music transcends the historial roots of the balafon within today's world music - West African Balafon.
In 1995, Abou's passion for his own compositions and performance talent drew him to the United States. After arriving in NYC, he co-founded and musically directed the performance company FEREBA, a fusion company of West African music and tap-dancing, expanding his own ideas for musical compositions and performances. With co-founder, Irene Koloseus, a celebrated tap-dancer, the company delighted audiences in the United States and abroad. Fereba has continued its success to the present day.
In 1998 Abou joined the faculty at the University of Florida Department of World Music, Gainesville. During his time at the university he composed and performed an eight-part musical called Agbedidi, presented to the pubic at the University's theater.
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.
Ismael Bangoura, born in Guinea West Africa in 1975, has been musical director and lead drummer for Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater since 1997. He has been studying music since age nine, and primarily plays the djembe and krin. His formal training began under the teaching of Master Musician Mohamed Camera, a close personal friend who is currently living in New York. He continued to develop as a musician playing informally and professionally with mentor and teacher Ibrahima “Boca” Camera. Later he worked with Master Percussionist Koungbanan Conde and Lance Kante. At a young age, Ismael landed a position with Percussions de Guinee, touring extensively in Guinea and in Europe.
Since coming to the U.S. Ismael has worked with some of the worlds most outstanding musicians both as a performer and a recording artist. These include Ron Brown, Sekouba Camera, Kemoko Sano, Youssouf Koumbassa and Vermont’s own Trey Anastasio of the band Phish. He regularly travels withing the U.S. and internationally. He has been to Sweden to work with Matimbo and to new Orleans to play with Mariama Curry’s Dance Company. He regularly attends conferences in New York, Florida, and Colorado to teach and perform. Ismael is also a recording artist and has played on CDs with many West African Artists.
Seny Daffe grew up in Guinea, where he developed an early love for dance and drum. By the age of 10, he had begun to study with master teachers, and within a few years, he began performing throughout West Africa. At 15, he toured Europe with the comedy dance troupe, Sardines de Conakry. Later, he established a band called Les Messagers de Boulbinet, for which he became quite famous in Guinea as a singer. He was also a member of the well-known dance and drum troupes Bassikolo, Wofa, and FatouAbou Percussion, which traveled internationally.
He came to the US for the first time in 2005, where he joined Burlington, VT’s Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater, performing and leading workshops in Vermont and the surrounding area. Seny has been in demand at drum and dance conferences throughout the U.S. for his engaging and effective teaching style, as well as for his extraordinary ability on the doundoun and other instruments.
Foluso Alamide Mimy is a percussion artist dedicated to the performance and teaching of music of Africa and the African Diaspora, spending most of his time in Senegal, Gambia, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Since his performance debut at the age of four, Foluso has collaborated with several dance companies and artists including Chiwoniso Maraire, the Maimouna Keita School of West African Dance, Umoja Dance Co., Djoule Africaine, M.F.O.A., African Global Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and many more. Foluso is currently the Musical Director of Egun Omode Performing Arts Collective.
Yao Ababio is the artistic director of Asase Yaa African American Dance Theatre. He has been studying African music and dance all of his life. Since the 1980’s, Yao has taught, choreographed, and performed for more than 20 dance companies and dance schools throughout the country. Being well versed in both Guinea and Ghana styles, he has performed with Dinizulu African Dancers, Drummers, and Singers for over 20 years. Mr. Ababio has performed all over the world including Japan, Korea, Iceland, and Amsterdam, The Hague, Jamaica, and almost every State in the USA. His goals are to bring African culture to its highest level on the concert stage, which he has dedicated his life to.
Considered by the jazz media at the forefront of his musical generation, 2 times Grammy award winner Percussionist and Composer Arturo Stable has share the Stage with artists such as Paquito D Rivera, Esperanza Spalding, Miguel Zenon, Terri Lyne Carrington, Christian McBride and The Philadelphia Symphony, just to name a few.
Mr. Stable also has an extensive experience as a composer and educator. He has written music commissioned for the Puebla Symphony Orchestra, the Harlem String Quartet and the NJ sax Quartet. Currently the Chair of the Hand Drum Department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia he has also developed a strong international presence as a bandleader with five releases under his name and countless international appearances in important festivals such as Madrid Jazz Festival, Vittoria Jazz festival, JVC Jazz Festival, Moscow Jazz Fest, Budapest jazz fest, among others.
Grammy Award Winner Percussionist/Composer
Chair Hand Drum Dept UARTS
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.
Drum Circle Facilitators
Brian T Carter is an in demand Percussionist / Music Teacher and Drum Circle Facilitator. He has a Masters degree in Music Education and is a trained REMO Health Rhythms Facilitator (REMO.com/health). He's been performing and teaching for 25 years.
He specializes in Drumset and Dumbek (aka 'darbuka'). Bands of note include FunkeyMonkeys and Raquy and the Cavemen, who he toured with nationally for 2 years. Currently he plays Rock, Funk and Soul covers in the Lee Ford Band on Friday nights at The Refinery Hotel in New York City.
Brian has taught public school instrumental and general music for over 20 years, to all grade levels. He also teaches privately in Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn Drum Circles, is his meetup.com group turned small business, that uses group drumming as a vehicle for self expression, improved communication and healing.
Mark Zarrillo is a versatile drummer, percussionist, drum circle leader and sound therapy practitioner. He holds an M.A. in Humanities from SUNY at Buffalo, has traveled to Guinea for a drumming and culture intensive, and is a trained HealthRHYTHMS® facilitator. Mark draws upon his rich knowledge of West African music and culture, as well as over forty years of drumming wisdom, when creating community and helping others express their own individual rhythmic spirit.
Mark’s most influential teachers include: George Dragone, Howard Zwickler, Charles Keil, Michael Markus, Aly Tachöl Camara, Yamoussa Camara and Alisco Diabate. Mark’s diverse performance experience includes: theatre productions, hard core punk, various rock bands, jazz standards in small groups and large orchestras, percussion ensembles, a traditional West African troupe, worship services and kirtan.
Mark has been organizing rhythm-centric events throughout Connecticut since 2005.
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”.
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
John Doing was born in Amsterdam, Holland. His father had an international career as an opera singer and voice teacher, and his mother was an elementary school music teacher. Following the family tradition, he has spent his life performing and teaching music.
While getting his Masters in Jazz Performance at New York University, John played drumset and percussion in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, "Fun Home", at the Public Theater in New York and later played First National Tour from 2016 to 2018.
John's first studies in world music were with Jamie Ryan, Mike Spiro, Jorge Alabe, and Paddy Cassidy. Those studies sparked a lifetime quest to learn drumming from around the world. John spent 3 months in Brazil, studying in several regions and performing in Carnaval. In Guinea and Mali, he studied djembe, dundun, and balafon, and performed in weddings, ceremonies, and clubs. John toured with the Afro-Peruvian band “Chilcano” in Peru, where he studied cajón with members of Peru Negro. In Cuba he studied timbales with Jean Roberto (Klimax) and percussion with Jose Eladio. John continues his love in world music in his work with Wula Drum.