Roots of Rumba

Roots of Rumba (created in 2013) is a festival presenting and celebrating diaspora dance theatre (Dance Theatre with dances of the African Diaspora at the heart). In 2018, supported by Arts Council of England, Roots of Rumba toured to: Bristol Trinity Centre, Lion Salt Works in Northwich (Near Chester), Horniman Museum in London, Yorkshire Dance in Leeds and Richmix in London. The events included theatre shows presenting a diverse selection of artists, workshops, afterparties, talks as well as development days for artists.

(See here for a detailed break down of local, national and international acts, teachers and DJs and why I created the festival)



Evening show & Afterparty £12 (shows by Daniela Sánchez Pimentel Ama Rouge Marv Radio Music Luanda Pau Baquero Passirani Sandra Myriam Gadri Franck Arnaud-lusbec Ffion Campbell-Davies Iris De Brito):…/roots-rumba-evening-only

Daytime workshops, evening show & afterparty £15 (what a bargain with 5 masterclasses by Orquidea Lima Luanda Pau Baquero Ella MesmaMiguel Gonzalez and a panel discussion #TherootsofSamba with Xavier Osmir):…/roots-rumba-joint-ticket-day-e…

Afterparty: £5 (with music by international superstar dj Lubi Jovanovic):…/dance/roots-rumba-after-party-0

  • 11th September, Roots of Rumba CPD day (Invite only), Richmix, London
  • 15th September 2018 Roots of Rumba London Workshops (Max 30 per workshop):
  • Doors Open: 9.45am
  • 10.00 – 11.00 Samba Masterclass with Orquidea Lima Felgueiras
  • 11.00-12.30 Ella Mesma Company Class
  • 12.30- 14.00 Rumba Masterclass with Luanda Pau
  • 14.00-15.00 Lunchtime Talk (Pay as you feel: Speakers will be dedicating their time to give you a historic talk: Bring your lunch and your questions: Subject The Roots of Samba with Xavier Osmir) (In the boardroom level 3 Richmix: Limited to 18 places: first come first served)
  • 15.00- 16.30 Arara Masterclass with Miguel Gonzalez
  • 16.30- 17.30 Kizomba Connection Class with Neelam Suman
  • Venue: Richmix, London, E1 6LA, Book:
  • 15th September 2018, Roots of Rumba London Performance, Costs: Full day and evening ticket (11am – Close): £15 full / £12 concessions, Performance only: £12 / £10 concessions, Times: 7.30pm, Richmix, London, E1 6LA, Book:
  • 15th September 2018, Roots of Rumba London Afterparty, Costs: free to ticket holders or £5, Times: 9.30pm onwards, Richmix, London, E1 6LA, Book:

The evening performances will include a selection of fully developed works, extracts and works in progress from the very best of local, national and international dance theatre artists representing dance of the African diaspora.

With elements from Rumba, Tango, Afro-Brazilian, Hip Hop and Capoeira, covering topics such as racism, migration, feminism and identity, it is no surprise that the dance performances are powerful, challenging and breath-taking. In some cities there will also be workshops with Ella Mesma and artists and afterparties with international DJs.

Roots of Rumba is produced & curated by award-winning dancer and choreographer Ella Mesma who has been commissioned to curate for a number of leading arts organisations including Sadler’s Wells. She has presented work in a number of highly regarded venues and festivals such as Dance City, Breakin’ Convention and Casa Latin American Festival.

Roots of Rumba is supported by funding from Arts Council England 2018.

Help us to evolve:

We would love to hear from you about the festival and how we can continue to evolve and improve what we do. Please fill in this short survey to enlighten us on a few aspects of the festival we believe will benefit from your voice:

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Quotes from the Festival

“Excellent: Don’t miss it” Anonymous feedback: Audience Member 20th July

“A fantastic way to spend Friday Night”Anonymous feedback: Audience member 20th July

“Moving, Thought provoking, visceral, uplifting”Anonymous feedback: Audience member 20th July

“A true marriage of dance, feeling, culture, politics and love” Carly Trigg: Audience member 7th July

“This is one of the most amazing events of the year!” Iris De Brito, Batuke Festival

“I found it entertaining and at the same time different in a positive way and I believe with potential to develop a secure platform for the enjoyment and edutainment of the dance forms you work with” Mercy Nabirye, One Dance UK

“An evening showcasing the incredible talents, cultures, skills embedded within the Latin community: I was privileged to be hosting for some of the best talent on the scene right now.” Rikki Livermore, MC/Host of Roots of Rumba 2015

Who is performing?

Touring Artists LONDON:

Myriam Gadri

Performing in Bristol, Northwich, London (8th July), Leeds, London (15th September)

‘The Lost Goddess” is a dance piece about the Lady of the River: a goddess who has been asleep for over 100 years.




Ffion Campbell Davies

Performing in Northwich, London (8th July), London (15th September)

Womb Paves Way meets us at the cross roads of the past and future, paving new pathways and clearing debris and obstruction. Embarking on rights of passage into womanhood, the piece is influenced by Yoruba Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban deity Ogun.



Franck Lusbec

Performing in Bristol, Northwich, Leeds, London (8th July & 15th September)

Franck will present Di-Osmosis a piece about identity. I want to be a citizen of the world, build myself with help from the cultures and the people I encounter all over but no matter what, I’ll always be “Martiniquais”.

Sandra Passirani

Performing in Bristol, Northwich, Leeds, London (15th September)

Mine or theirs is a piece about what I could or would do, as a queer woman of colour, if my body was truly mine.

Who is DJ-ing?

DJ Lubi

(Djing in Leeds and London (15th September))

Local Artists: LONDON

Dani Sands (Brazil/London)

Performing in London (15th September)

Dani Sands will present Yo Macho in London at Richmix.
Dani was born in Brazil and also raised in Spain. She is a creative, performer, director and choreographer living in London. She uses influences of her origins in her work combined to 8 years of dance training in urban dance styles, contemporary, flamenco and latin.
Dani is a graduate from UEL Urban Practice: Dance degree and a member of B-Hybrid Dance company (Brian Gillespie) and Informotion (Muti Musafiri). She has worked with different artists such as Christopher Reyes (Caravan), Kenrick Sandy (BoyBlue ent.) and Tony Adigun (Avant Garde) and also worked as dancer and model in different music videos with Craig David, Rak-Su, Fergie and Artificial Pleasure. Dani is the Founder and Creative Director of the underground dance scene platform, Dance Cypher.
Yo Macho is a work in progress dance theatre piece exploring the still present chauvinistic culture towards woman and the meanings of being macho. Many women are still affected by a male focused society. Some can’t be freed from it or don’t dare to. But why? And what is it to be male or macho? Can she be macho? Does she wants to?
Dani Sands collaborates with two musicians Tomo Carter and Martin Newbury to explore music and movement influenced by latin, flamenco, waacking, contemporary and other styles.
Dani said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase this work to what I believe will be the perfect audience for it. I am also very excited to perform alongside such talented line up”.

Marv Radio

Performing in London (15th September)

London raised Marv Radio will perform Mantra. Marv Radio is a vocal force of nature and one of a kind performer. The 3X Team UK Beatbox Champion combines beatboxing, rapping, singing, high energy freestyling and live looping to make unique, conscious live music shows.

Marv Radio has a wealth of national and international experience and often travels while teaching, giving sound therapy sessions, hosting, performing and using his voice to engage audiences with high vibrational performances.

His EP “The Airwaves” is available on Spotify, iTunes and all good online platforms.

Marv Radio will take us on a storytelling adventure, weaving together his own stories based on his journey through life, hip hop and spirituality, Mantra combines acting, rapping, beatboxing, storytelling, movement and improvisation to change the way we think about poetry and stories. Marv Radio’s story reminds us of the impermanence and vulnerability in life, in death and in the moment. The message is intertwined with pre-written and improvised songs, audience interaction, poetry, sound and movement, bringing the audience out of the head and into the heart.

Marv says: “It’s amazing to perform with Roots of Rumba and Ella Mesma dance. I’m excited to show my new work amongst a great line-up of incredible artists”

Community and Emerging Artists: LONDON


Ama Rouge Ensemble

Performing in London (15th September)

Ama Rouge Ensemble are a community dance group formed out of a mutual love for dance and the arts, particularly diasporic. Led by Ama Rouge, they are an all female multicultural community dance ensemble from London. They will present Roots Bloom at Rich Mix London.
The piece journeys between a selection of dances of the diaspora, observing the relationship and parallels between them, whilst highlighting the joy and community found within dance from root to tip.
Ama says about performing at Roots of Rumba “As a newly formed multicultural community dance group from London it’s awesome to be part of something that’s elevating the visibility of dances of the diaspora in a dance theatre setting”

Luanda Pau (London/Cuba)

Performing in London (15th September)

Luanda Pau’s performance group will be bringing Quien mató a Malanga? Who killed Malanga?to Rich Mix London
Their show is a source of inspiration based on the events that took place at the party where the mysterious death of this great Rumbero occurred.

Who was Malanga? The brightest of the Columbia-style Rumba dancers so far known, the corridors and adventures he made were amazing. He created a unique style that became the repertoire of many dancers. He was one of those who introduced the Rumba in the central part of Cuba Island. In 1922 his unexpected and mysterious death occurred, occurred while participating in a party of rumberos and when he was about to dance he felt bad and died almost immediately. The most popular version is that he was killed by pouring ground glass into his food. Now, who killed Malanga? … Was some rumbero jealous of his fame and popularity? … no one knows. but the popularity of his dance made his fame as an exceptional rumbero endure for history.

About performing at Roots of Rumba, Luanda says “It is for me an honour and a privilege to be able to share, thanks to this newly-formed performance group, the roots and cultural heritage of my country, Cuba.”

Teachers: LONDON

Orquidea Lima

Samba no Pe Class

ALL LEVELS 10-11 at Richmix London (15th September)

Orquidea is a dancer, teacher and choreographer for the London School Samba and several Samba Schools across Europe. She was LSS’s ‘Rainha da Bateria’ in 2010 and ‘Musa’ from 2012-2014. She has paraded in Rio Carnival with Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel. International performances include: New Year Celebrations in Hong Kong 2011 and Qatar 2013 for the Qatari Royal Family. Regular performances include: The International Samba Festival of Coburg (Germany) and the Notting Hill Carnival, where she has also choreographed a few times. Recently, Orquidea has trained with Carlinhos Salgueiro, the most sought after choreographer from Rio de Janeiro.

Orquidea’s class is a journey that starts with the basic step of samba (samba no pé) and it’s African origins, moving on to the evolution of samba in the street carnival parades to the organised samba schools in the ‘Sambodromo’ in Rio. The class will culminate with the contemporary use of samba in stage performances and the most recent technique used in Rio de Janeiro for Passistas (skilled samba dancers).

Bring comfortable clothes they can dance in, trainers/flat shoes. Only bring heels if they are comfortable that their level of samba is intermediate/advanced.

“I am thrilled to share my knowledge and experience of Samba in this celebration of the Roots of Rumba, I can’t wait to loosen some hips and sharpening some feet!”

Ella Mesma

Home: Ella Mesma Company Class

All Levels at 11-12.30

I am inspired watching dancers moving languidly, passionately, and following the natural circles and rhythms inside all of us. I love to use the music and creative imagination as the driving force in my class, and in coming home to our natural and unique style.

Starting with the feet and the ‘Yonvalou’ from Haiti (which traces back to Benin in West Africa), HOME is is part of a series of four workshops which I use with my company dancers to encourage us to come home to our bodies, using dance and the voice as a healing tool to and expression of freedom.

HOME uses different improvisation techniques to discover the unique movement language within all of us.  Danced to Latin and Afro house, (and other awesome tracks) HOME includes body isolations, contract/release work, floorwork and the imagination!

My knowledge and training as a dancer and yoga teacher has informed this workshop, in particular my training in Graham technique in New York, Afro-Latin styles in Cuba at LA Ena and with my teachers here in the UK, Afro Brazilian at Funceb and Capoeira with Mojuba, cyphering/ freestyling as a bgirl/salsera/passista and workshops with Russell Maliphant Company, myofascial release, Butoh and animal flow/ nature. I have united these styles to create a fun, energetic, earthy and grounded improvisation class called ‘HOME’.

Luanda Pau

Open Rumba
ALL LEVELS! 12.30- 14.00 at Rich Mix London (12th September)
Whether you have some previous experience of Rumba or not, you are welcome! you will get the chance to learn the basic steps and rhythm patterns of Cuban Rumba, and understand the spirit of this popular dance. If you are not familiar with Cuban Rumba: the meaning and origin of this genre will be explained at the workshop. Ladies: bring a scarf or skirt Men: bring a handkerchief
Born in Havana, Cuba, with a 24-year track record as a performer (solo artist at Conjunto Folklorico, Havana) and teacher, Luanda Pau graduated from the National School of Art of Cuba (ENA) in 1994 as a dancer and teacher of Cuban folk & contemporary dance. Luanda holds a Certificate in Choreography (2001), Ministry of Culture of Cuba; Certificate of Artistic Direction, Script and Production (2001) Ministry of Culture of Cuba; Diplome National, in dance and sports education (2010), France. Luanda is currently in London, and teaches, produces and organises master classes in dance, workshops and international events.
Luanda says “I am very happy to teach in the Roots of Rumba to support, share and enjoy the roots of Cuban culture”.

Miguel Gonzalez 

Orisha: BABALU AYE or Saint Lazaro  

All Levels at 15.00- 16.30

In Santería, Babalú-Ayé is among the most popular Orishas.
Syncretized with Saint Lazarus, and regarded as particularly miraculous, Babalú-Ayé is publicly honored with a pilgrimage on December 17, when tens of thousands of devoteess gather at the Church and Leprosorium of Saint Lazarus in El Rincón, in the outskirts of Santiago de las Vegas, Havana.
Arará communities in Cuba and it’s diaspora honor the spirit as Asojano. Both traditions use sack cloth in rituals to evoke his humility. The spirit also appears in Palo as Pata en Llaga.
In Candomblé, Obaluaiê’s face is thought to be so scarred by disease and so terrifying that he appears covered with a raffia masquerade that covers his whole body.
We will be focusing on the Arara Asohano spiritual dance expression from the dance perspective. The Arara Dance in this case we will do Asohano​, style that has evolved in Cuba today as a legacy from the ancestors of the
Bantu people through their movement from South to North Africa pre & post-slavery in the Americas.

Born in Cuba, Miguel Gonzalez became a Professional Dancer at the age of 19 in Santiago de Cuba. He trained in Ballet, Afro-Cuban, Popular Cuban dance techniques and performed the choreography pf one of the most prestigious Dance master in Cuba (Eduardo Rivero Walker). Miguel continued to develop his career as a dancer, participating in several world productions dancing Contemporary. He moved to the UK in 2001 and teaches and shares his knowledge on the Salsa scene since then. Miguel won the Official UK Amateur Salsa Championship 2012

“I have a duty with my ancestry to pass on the knowledge”

Neelam Suman

Kizomba Connection

16.30- 17.30 (All Levels)

Neelam has been honoured for her contributions to Kizomba. She was in the top finals of the best Kizomba teacher in the Lukas Awards in 2 years running from 2012and was in the finals for the London Africadancar 2009. This acknowledgement has contributed to the confidence and the contagious smile she is renowned for. Her peers showed their respect for her by inviting her to judge at the Paris Africadancar 2010finals. And, having then become the founder and CEO of Kizomba Family 2010, Neelam opened her night in London, where some of the best dancers have visited and have since become teachers themselves.

In 2014-2015 Neelam travelled to Vancouver to Ambassador Kizomba where she was the first person to open a Kizomba nightclub and raised the level by 70%, also she contributed bringing Kizomba into their Festivals.

For her, Kizomba means healing, health and growth, and nothing makes her happier than when her students ‘get it’. Come experience Neelam’s passionate, inspiring and life-affirming Kizomba teaching style.

Currently successfully launched and founder of brand Less Is More where she empowers and inspires ladies the world over on simplicity in Kizomba and Semba.

(See here for a detailed break down of local, national and international acts, teachers and DJs)

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