2018 Retreat Program

From A(fro) to Z(ipline)

[beta version]


We’re going digital!

We want to show you the most information in the easiest way possible, and save lots of trees! #WulaReforestation

We’re offering a digital program this year.
Use our website to browse class descriptions, faculty bios, and other helpful information about the event. We know the schedule is so packed, it comes out small and hard to read. Same with the big map. Now you can zoom in anywhere you want, and comfortably read everything you want to know, from Faculty bios to class descriptions, to announcements, and more.

Don’t have a smart phone?
All information will be still be available to you - posted in the dining hall, marketplace, and main office, as well as large, color copies of the schedule and map in every cabin and every class space for your reference. All announcements made on the digital program will also be made at meal times and posted in the dining hall.

Class Levels – Where do I go?

The schedule is self guided. Any class that does not have a level assigned to it is “open level” - anybody is welcome to join the class!

Djembe classes have levels assigned: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Professional. The levels are a measure of the depth of knowledge of djembe rhythms and techniques as played in West Africa, so that the teacher may move more quickly and teach more complex rhythms as the level increases. Each teacher has a unique approach and we recommend trying a class with each of them!

Please use your honest judgement of what level you feel you are rather than who’s teaching - we rotate all teachers so every level student can experience them.

Look at the Class Descriptions for more information.

Class Descriptions

Afro-Caribbean Dance

This is a dance class led by Baba Richard González with live drumming. Areas of study may include Haitian Dance, Cuban Dance, Puerto Rican Dance, and more. Amazing!

Afro-Cuban Rhythm

We are joined this year by Arturo Stable who grew up in Cuba and is now making waves on the creative scene in the U.S. A GRAMMY® award winning performer and seasoned teacher, we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us!

Advanced Djembe/Dundun

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.

Bon Fire Jam

All are welcome to gather around the fire, play, and dance. No teachers, no rules, just enjoy!

Beginning Djembe/Dundun

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.

Brazilian Drumming

Candomble Class - All classes in Rec 2 are this class

This new class focuses on the Afro-Brazilian rhythms that eventually merged to create the various forms of samba in Brazil. Rhythms from Nigeria, Benin, Congo and Angola all have deep roots in Brazilian music. This class will be taught using Congas and Agogo Bell, whereas the Samba / Bateria classes will be taught using marching percussion at a separate time.

Samba Bateria Class - All classes listed in Rec 4 (Hilltop) are this class

Learn to play percussion in the style of a bateria from Rio De Janeiro. Open to all levels, this class will focus on fundamental, hands on techniques that will enable you to play Rio style samba. This 1 1/2 hour class will show you the function of each instrument, and will be taught by Grupo Ribeiro's musical director Nick Birmelin.

Brazilian Dance

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.

Brazilian & Afro-Caribbean Dance Together

The Africans who were brought to the Caribbean represent a wide range of people and kingdoms from West Africa with different dances to express their beliefs. These dances although different in detail, are based on a foundation of respect for God, Nature, Family, Elders, Ancestor and respect for self. In this special workshop Baba Richard and Queñia along with the drummers lead participants with songs and dances associated with these specific cultural rhythms, absorbing the strengths and phenomena of these forces such as OBATALÁ / ORIXALÁ / DAMBALLAH - DIVINE FORCES OF AUTHORITY, PEACE AND ASHÉ.

**Please wear all white for this special class

Drum & Dance All Together / Closing Ceremony

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 and feel the sense of Community that is the driving force behind the Retreat.

Drum Making/Tuning - CANCELLED until Friday due to travel complications

Drum building and reheading is cancelled because due to the delayed arrival there is not time to do the 3-day process. Come to learn how to tune your drum.

Dundun Dance

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 (or you can always participate with air drumming!).

Frame 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® winning Silk Road Ensemble.

Ghana Drumming

Explore drums and bells like the Atsimevu, Sogo, Kidi, Gankogui, and more from Ghana, West Africa. Classes are taught by Joe Galeota, a professor at the world famous Berklee School of Music in Boston.

Guest Group Performances

There is so much talent at the Retreat, we have added a separate community performance. We have guest groups from the U.S., Japan, and China, and other student groups and performances. If you are interested in performing, please let us know ASAP!

Guinea Dance

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.

Haitian Drumming

The Vodou drum and dance culture of Haiti has a similar story to drum and dance from other parts of Latin America - deep African roots! Explore Afro-Haitian drumming with Bonga Jean Baptiste - one of Haiti’s most treasured drummers.

Intermediate Djembe/Dundun

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.

Kids Classes

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!

Drum Circles

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!

Mali Dance

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.


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.


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 her musicians in the Dining Hall - happening every night of the Retreat!

Professional Djembe/Dundun

The Professional class is designed for those who play traditional West African djembe professionally. Students should have a full understanding of rhythms from Guinea and Mali - all the accompaniment parts, all the dundun parts, and lots of experience soloing. With few exceptions, students in this class will have been studying djembe for 10+ years, will have excellent technique, will have travelled to Guinea once or more to study from the source, and are actively playing djembe (maybe we should check for sufficient callouses at the door!).

Sabar/Kutiro Dance (Senegal)

Sabar is a traditional dance performed to the sabar drum from Senegal. Marie Basse has a flowing and gentle style. Kutiro is a traditional dance, Gambia Casamance region of Southern Senegal

Sabar Drumming

Explore the drumming of Senegal to the crackling sound of the sabar drums. Learn Senegalese style - 1 stick, 1 hand - drumming from master drummer Mar Gueye.


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.

Swimming Pool

There are two large swimming pools that are heated (to a certain degree..) and very refreshing after dancing and drumming. Please note the pool hours on the schedule.

The Show

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!

Yoga / Stretching / Meditation

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 and Meditation classes are not in session, the Wellness center is open for peace and quiet time.


Yes, we have a zipline. Yes, it goes over the lake. Yes, you can ride it. Check the schedule for Zipline hours!

Instruments Provided and Rentals

The only instruments you need to rent are djembes and dunduns.

Djembe rentals are in the Marketplace and are checked out and returned on a daily basis.

Dundun rentals are not for Djembe/Dundun classes. There is a set of duns in each class that is played by whomever steps up.

You must rent a dundun (or bring your own) for Dundun Dance class.

All other instrumental classes provide instruments on a first come, first serve basis for each class.