In the fall of 1979 when I moved out to California from Iowa I was in a very avante’ garde dance recital choreographed by Katia Noyes at Sonoma State University. We would rehearse high up in the hills of Sonoma county, sun shining down and the wind blowing around us. There were four of us like statues--cold and motionless. Katia had a huge brown cloth over her depicting the earth. With each breath she blew we become more and more alive. At first the head, next the chest and then the hips which was the full body opening to life.

I love that I entered this county at age 19 doing something that would become my life’s work. Helping women to connect with their life force through the rhythm of breath into full and joyful body movement.

For me, African dance is the perfect blend of dance, athletics, singing and a whole lot of fun and spirit. One of the women in the dance piece depicting stone became my first African dance teacher, Victoria Strowbridge. She not only taught me about dance but the importance of community and how to build community through dance. From there, I branched out into the Congolese community in the bay area with Sandor Diabanquezi, Titos Sompa, Regine Ndounda and Malonga Casquelourd.

Diane Szczepanski was an inspirational teacher to me and brought me to the path of West African style dance. I studied with Allasane Kane and Kemoko Sano in the San Francisco Bay Area.

After studying for ten years I wanted to teach but was terrified at the thought of getting in front of people. I took an aerobic training program and began my fitness and African dance teaching career in 1991. I became the Master Instructor for the Northern California Aerobic Training Program in 1993 and trained over 40 people to become aerobic and step instructors.

In 1994, I believed with my heart and soul that the best way to stay fit was through African dance. It used muscles in the body left behind in traditional aerobics so I launched an Instructor Training Program called Rhythm Workout. I produced an Instructor Training Video and two “non-stop live drumming” CDs. I presented at several national Fitness Conventions and in 1995, Power Music Company--an instructor aerobic music company--licensed my Rhythm Workout Instructor Training Program for five years and sold it to instructors across the U.S., Europe, Canada and Japan.

Since then, I have personally trained over 30 instructors in the Rhythm Workout Instructor Training Program. Instructors from Reno, Nevada to Pasadena, California and all the way to Japan. I do specialty workshops and events with lead drummer, Stori Davis, www.womencandrum.com. Together we share our love and passion of rhythm and dance to uplift parties and special events.

I am currently teaching dance and fitness in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. See my latest video, “Body Rhythm Goddess” and several more “non-stop” drumming CDs for instructors and drumming enthusiasts as well as choreography videos to support the training programs. In the future these will include a “Masters Series” with African dance master instructors.

I lead dance and perform at health expos, parties and special events. I am the master instructor of the Rhythm Workout Instructor Training Program and co-producer of the Goddess Crafts Faire. Check out my calendar for special events and class schedule for my current classes.

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