Ela Mesma Company

Dispora Dance Theatre

All things Roots of Rumba

Roots of Rumba (established 2013 at Richmix) began as a mission to create a platform for established professionals and emerging Latin dance artists to present Dance Theatre with Afro-Latin dance and themes at the heart.

I am super excited to announce that this year Roots of Rumba will be funded by Arts Council of England and will be touring the UK! This year Roots of Rumba will tour to 5 cities and will present 3 amazing UK based professional artists, One international act (NYC based) and two local artists from each touring city. Of different generations and genres within the diaspora, artists will be presenting very different work that truly showcases the potential and scope of diaspora dance theatre! The tour also includes workshops, an afterparty and more!

Why did you start Roots of Rumba?

“I LOVE Latin dance. Growing up on the salsa scene, I am naturally a huge fan of Eddie Torres, Yamulee, Swing Latino, Tropical Gem and all the others who tour the congress scenes worldwide. These dance shows are amazing: with impressive movements to showcase these beautiful dances. They are also often very ‘front facing’ and have similar teeny tiny costumes for the women and big big smiles (that often as a performer felt forced or that they didn’t convey what I was actually feeling and thinking).

Training as a contemporary dancer was hard at first, because I moved so differently and often latin dances are based on call and response or improvisation, so I felt that Contemporary Dance was a very different world: One where I was not sure I belonged. I began to that notice that my dance forms didn’t get the same respect and opportunity to shine as contemporary and ballet and to wish for them also to be put on the stage with a similar reverance. After touring with contemporary Companies like Russell Maliphant, and working with Jonzi D (Breakin’ Convention) who is one of the founders of Hip Hop Dance Theatre, I realised there is a huge potential for creating deeper work using latin dance forms.  I began to imagine the ‘what if’s!’: “What if we lit or staged it differently?” “What if we changed the costumes slightly?” “What if we looked at creating theme or issue based work?” “Or added technology?” The potentials are endless!

My piece Ladylike (which has received a Lukas award nomination) does just that: it uses Afro Cuban dance to talk about issues around sex, sexuality and the #metoo movement. I think that Latin dance styles lend themselves really well to creating theatre, because they are at a beautiful crossroads of different cultures to creating a dialogue: in particular around subjects about migration, identity and sexuality… but I am sure this list is also endless and I would love to support more artists on this journey!

And so, in 2013, with the help of Scannersinc, I set up the first Roots of Rumba: Creating a festival that gave Afro-Latin dance theatre a spotlight on the stage.

I continued the festival over the next few years in London, but this year I decided to invest more time into understanding what the scope of the festival was, what its remit was, and what and how it helped to enable the UK scene, and am delighted to have received an Arts Council of England grant to support that.

Why did you change the remit from Afro-Latin Dance Theatre?

Originally I created Roots of Rumba as a platform for dances from South America and the Caribbean, such as Rumba, Tango, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Samba, Salsa, Capoeira, Baile Funk, Kuduru, Bachata etc. I chose the title Roots of Rumba, because if we trace the journeys of these dances, all of them really originate in Africa.

The more I discussed, read and reflected on my creating an Afro-Latin festival, the more I understood the complexities of the definition and how political even the use of the word ‘Latin’ can be. Within my own personal practise I have come to realise that boxes and definitions can be so unhelpful, and that whilst they hep us to understand, they can also limit us. I began to wonder whether the definition of Afro-Latin dance theatre was unhelpful, and to wonder whether I should include different dances of the African Diaspora such as Hip Hop (Many forms were created by the Latin community in the USA, they also originate in Africa) and Caribbean dances including Haitian dance, Dance hall and of course African dances such as Sabar, Kizomba and Mapouka.

Seeing Germaine Acogny’s (the Mother of African Contemporary Dance) work at Southbank this year was very impactful this year: an amazing example of dance theatre which uses her  Germaine Acogny technique so powerfully…

Eventually, after talking to mentors, peers and family, I decided that because the Roots of all of these dances are in Africa, and that all Afro-Latin dance forms can be traced back to Africa in their roots, it felt right to define the festival as a festival celebrating diaspora dance theatre because all of these styles are dances of the African Diaspora at the heart.

Where is Roots of Rumba this year?







Who is performing?

Touring Artists:

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. A female interpretation, embodying the marriage of divine masculine/feminine contemporary and traditional forms, the piece is a returning back home to the womb residing in purity and rebirth. Taking reference from African and Caribbean women of the Victorian and Colonial era, and questioning what being a woman really means within prejudice and matriarchal society? Who are we underneath ‘his-story’, what is ‘her-story’? ‘Womb paves way’ is inspired by the book ‘Vagina’ by Naomi Wolf.

Ffion Campbell-Davies is a multidisciplinary performance artist. Cardiff born mixed Welsh Grenadian, trained at LCDS in 2010. Exchanged at Calarts, LA in 2013. Studied in Brazil and Cuba in 2014-16. Joined dance theatre company ‘House Of Absolute’ in 2015 and winner of Crooked Districts ‘Krump vs Waacking’ and Kwame Asafo-Adjei’s Spoken Movement BLOC BATTLE in experimental 2018. She’s worked alongside singer Lula Mebrahtu, performed ‘caravan’ Immersive theatre at VAULTfest and is currently presenting her own conceptual works celebrating Identity and womanhood, in particular ‘Womb Paves Way’ which was performed at Rich Mix London for ‘She Created Her Life’ Curated by Ella Mesma and Tichea Brade.

“I am excited to unite in the excellence of the African Diaspora at Roots of Rumba”

Iris De Brito

Performing in Bristol, London (8th July)

Uprooting: a work in progress centred around the family bonds severed through migration & immigration. Iris will explore how the forced movement of people creates new identities and cycles of trauma that reflect through generations.

Iris has worked with “Badejo Arts”, “Kokuma Dance Company” and Sheron Wray. In the commercial sector, with artists such as Jay Z, Madonna and Kylie Minogue. Iris has travelled extensively to Cuba to study Afro Cuban movement. She was 2x UK Salsa champion and In 2006, and toured the International Afro Latin festival circuit for over 15 years performing and teaching. Iris organises BATUKE International Festival in London promoting awareness of Afro Luso culture. In 2017, as part of LTSF, she travelled to Angola on a research trip culminating in a one hour documentary. She is a 2107-2018 One Dance UK – DAD Trailblazer starter fellow.

“I am excited to be part of Roots Of Rumba because I thinks it is the right platform for my work and I am passionate about developing an audience for this kind of work”

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. A ceremonial dance has been passed down through the generations is used in an attempt to wake up the goddess. Those who know it have dedicated their lives to this ritual. Legend states that the goddess can only be awakened by someone worthy of learning the ways of the four elements (earth, water, wind, fire). The Lost Goddess is inspired by one of Maya Angelou’s poems called, “Alone”.
“Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out there alone.” …Maya Angelou

Myriam Gadri was born in Switzerland and also raised in Togo ( Africa) and London ( UK). She is a dancer, performer, actor, model now living in New York. Myriam has performed on the “Today Show” numerous times including “Summer Concert Series” with Pitbull and Mark Anthony, the “Ugly Betty” season 4 launch party, “Fake Off” Season 2 with DECA Crew on TrueTV, NY KNICKS ‘Latin’ halftime show at Madison Square Garden, performed in Miami for Don Omar in the Latin Billboard Awards two years running choreographed by Maria Torres, Marc Jacobs – Decadance fragrance launch, The Latin Quarter Casino Show and made an appearance on SNL Christmas Special with Amy Adams. 
She has made numerous appearances infusing Latin and African dance styles with several dance companies. She made her U.S musical debut with “The Wiz” at Arkansas Theatre Rep, and then two productions of “In The Heights” directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado, where she was the first woman to play the role of Graffiti Pete in one of these productions. She toured with The Hip Hop Nutcracker where she played the ‘Mother’, Performed at the IIFA Awards 2017 and “Broadway Bares – Equity Fights Aids” in Sekou Mcmiller Ii‘s piece.

She also had the honor of playing the first female ‘Graffiti Pete’ in the critically acclaimed US premier of In The Heights in Spanish which won 9 awards at the Helen Hayes Awards 2018 and 3 Broadway World awards Directed and choreographed by 3 times Broadway veteran Luis Salgado.

“I am very excited to be able to present and share this original piece in the line up of ‘Roots of Rumba’ Tour because In today’s world, the answers given to face struggle tend to divide us… and reaching out to what we all have in common and to what was here before us is one of the beautiful ways to finally unite”.

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 color, if my body was truely mine. It is hard to believe we really have a choice over our actions, as if everything we do was a reaction to gender expectations. Perhaps remembering all the magic and the sacred there is in us, would help not to bend under the weight of social constructs.

Sandra Passirani is from France where she trained at Choreia Le Centre des Arts Vivants in Paris. She continued training at the Alvin Ailey School. In New York, some of her favorite performing memories include: the New York Times annual gala, the 25th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil, being a soloist at the Museum of Natural History for two years, and feeling the magic dancing in the Apollo Club Harlem show directed by Maurice Hines. She is grateful to have been part of Lynn Neuman’s company for eight years, and for every moments she got to dance with friends and family. Sandra taught at the Manhattan Youth Ballet, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, Broadway Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway.
“I hope to always explore new grounds”

“Roots of Rumba is a great platform for international artists. I am grateful to be able to share a message and magical moments with its audience.”

Azara Rowena Meghie

Performing in Leeds

“Just Another Night” is a piece where, over the course of one night, at a house party, Azara struggles to shrug off questions about her race, gender, sexuality and just dance.

Azara Meghie is a black LGBTQI performer. Her first live solo performance I Am A Woman was created in Jamaica. She collaborated with Kai Fi’ain to develop a video piece which screened at the BFI Flare Film Festival 2017 and seven film festivals across London, Berlin and New York. She has just finished her second film Breaking Down my Trans-Lation.

“I am excited about performing at Roots of Rumba because I can share my roots and journey with and to more people”.

Franck Lusbec

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

Franck ARNAUD-LUSBEC aka Duracel Freaks grew up between Paris and a French Caribbean island called Martinique. Dance has always been a part of his life and at the age of 16, after a year of hip-hop classes he decided he would make dance his career. At the age of 20 he attended Rick Odums International Jazz Center where in trained in Ballet, Jazz and Modern. During his time there he had the privilege to work with amazing teachers and choreographers such as Geraldine Armstrong, Cathy Grouet and Magalie Vérin. They helped him develop a strong technique in Jazz, and Modern dances. Meanwhile, he was also part of a hip-hop company, Insolite Crew with whom he participated in events, music videos (I Got It by Diversidad) and contests such as “MTV Shake ton Booty” (2nd place in 2010, 1st place in 2011). After 2 Years He moved to New York where he joined the Certificate Program at Peridance Capezio Center. There he trained in many styles with great teachers and choreographers such as Lajon Dantzler, Joanna Numata, Tweetboogie, KCDC, Princess Lockeroo, Ms Vee, Archie Burnett, Marlena Wolfe, Milton Myers, Djoniba Mouflet… He also appeared in ABC’s Good Morning America and in a couple of music videos. Back in Paris since 2015, he has been working on various project, as a dancer and a choreographer. He’s the director of “Free FAL’L Dance Company”, within which he brought together skilled dancers with different backgrounds, from France and the US. Today Franck travels, to perform with his company but also to teach, trying to share his artistry with the world and hoping to keep on learning from his surroundings

Franck will present Di-Osmosis a piece about identity. Your roots are the base of who you are, no matter how much you grow they will be a part of you and affect your life in one way or another. They are always linked to your core. I grew up on a Caribbean Island that I left at a young age. Today I’m a man very far from his original home, geographically but also mentallity, still my blood is encrypted with the rich culture of Martinique and no matter what I do, I’m always influenced by it, even in the smallest ways. Whether it’s in my dancing, the words I use, my accent, or the way I percieve everything around me. 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”. In this piece I want to explore that duality, that tricky yet perfect osmosis, between my roots and who I’m building myself to be…

“I’m very happy to have the opportunity to explore this subject with other artists.”

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.


DJ Lubi (Leeds/Serbia)

(DJing in Leeds, London (15th September))

Awesome Latin and Hip Hop sounds from Leeds based DJ Lubi (Lubi Jovanovic) is one of the UK’s best known salsa and Latin music DJs both at home and abroad. He is also a long time jazz/soul/funk/world music DJ and live music promoter. His career spans over 30 years working in all aspects of the business – international DJ, live music promoter, club promoter, radio presenter, record label PR and CD compiler. He began in 1982 spinning Mongo Santamaria/Tito Puente/Art Blakey/Tania Maria records in Bradford in the north of England as part of the UK jazzdance movement – hard bop, jazz fusion, samba batucada and mambo – and was soon running weekly sessions in the city including The Jazz Cellar (a DJ and live band night) and Wild Style (two floors – one rap/electro, the other jazz/Latin – breakers and jazz hoofers battling it out under one roof). By 1986, he was promoting his first salsa clubnight, Club Afro Latino in Leeds, one of the earliest outside London, plus guesting as a DJ across the country, playing bass in local jazz groups and leading his own Latin jazz bands. In the 1980s, DJ Lubi was also a working musician.

“Looking forward to playing at Roots Of Rumba once again and working with Ella Mesma who I have a long and happy association with going right back to her forming Element Arts in Leeds in 2005. DJing at her events’ after-parties is so natural as we both share a common love of great Latin American, Caribbean, Afro-American and African music past, present and future – salsa, samba, timba, funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz, rumba, reggaeton, afrobeat and dancehall. I’ll be playing all these on the night and look forward to an amazing dancers jam across all the genres represented by Roots Of Rumba. Bring it on!”


Akeim: Toussaint To Move (Leeds)

(Performing in Leeds)

Akeim is a multifaceted performing artist, born in Jamaica and raised in England. He seeks to create moving, thought provoking, accessible and free spirited projects with different performance art forms. Since graduating from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance with a first-class honours Bachelor degree in Performing Arts, Akeim has been involved in cross disciplinary projects working with a wide range of artists from around the world. His focus as a maker and collaborator is to combine expressive skills such as dance, writing poetry, beat-box, singing and acting to create performances telling stories that galvanise diverse audiences.

Akeim will present Jordan River: an extract from Windows Of Displacement: A dance theatre one man show exploring identity, colonialism and capitalism in todays modern world. Jordan River is the dance of joy which encapsulates the drive for us to keep moving as people and never stop.

About performing in his hometown, Akeim said “I am excited to represent another flavour of the diaspora dance lineage that I am creating.”

Rafael Braga and Paige Lyons

(Performing in Northwich)
In Northwich, Rafael Braga Piolho & Paige Lyon will perform ‘Meetings’.
Each day of our lives no two meetings are the same, so every time we see each other will be different. We bring ourselves and our own experiences of two different roots, capoeira and contemporary dance. They meet, cross, converge and merge creating a new conversation each time.

Paige Lyon is a recent graduate from the University of Chichester, receiving a Masters in Dance Performance. During this time, Paige worked closely with choreographers such as Shobana Jeyasingh, Lea Anderson, Hagit Yakira and Cai Tomos, touring each of their pieces nationally and internationally with mapdance in 2017. Currently, Paige is a dancer for enCompass Collective Dance Theatre who toured their work ‘Cambia Lavita’ at Lago Film Fest in Italy, as well as touring nationally with ‘Circumstances brought us Here’. Paige is also a free lancer teaching contemporary classes and choreographing for third year University students at Chester. Paige’s movement quality is influenced by Capoeira, Flying low, Ballet, Somatic and Release Based Techniques.

Rafael- Piolho
A native Brazilian with over 25 years experience as a capoeirsta (capoeira practitioner) I have travelled extensively and have shared my art form with children and adults around the world and beyond through performances and workshops such as at Alton Towers in association with Ponciano Almeida,
‘Star Crossed’ commissioned by Edinburgh Mela Festival and toured to Teatro Municipal de Palma, Mallorca
, ‘Can we Play?’ capoeira and contemporary improvisation show devised and performed with Fluxus Collective at Tilt Festival, Liverpool and Urban Moves, Manchester.
Rafael Mestre Piolho, lives in Chester where he teaches capoeira to people of all ages and abilities.

They are really exited to be part of the show and share experience with new artists.

Latisha Cesar

(Performing in Bristol)

Latisha will present Istwa a two long (pronounces eestwa ah twaw long) which translates to the Story is too long

What if the greatest bit of technology invented was the modern woman? Every woman’s story is the story trial an error editing and often curated to ensure the survival of a people. This excerpt follows Haitian woman’s story, the cycle from ancient to modern, rural to urban, traditional to contemporary and back- always powerfully walking in the fullness of her truth.

Latisha is a dancer, teacher, choreographer from New York City currently living in Somerset. Latisha’s Haitian American heritage has offered a life immersed in a culture of storytelling, music and dance. Latisha currently runs a community dance project called Saias Liberdade, which explores social and folkoric Afro Caribbean dance traditions including Afro Brazilian and Haitian dance. In 2017 Latisha started the Krik Krak festival an event dedicated to the education of Haitian culture in the South West and is currently working on a project called the Bristol Dance Exchange which seeks to bring high quality dance education to Bristol and the South west.

Latisha is happy to represent the culture of Ayiti as part of this acknowledgement and celebrations on Afro Caribbean culture.

Marie-Claire & Marie Mathias (Leeds/France)

(Performing in Leeds)

Marie-Claire is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and promoter. After graduating from a dance centre (James Carles Centre) in France specialising in Contemporary dance and travelling in Cuba to study dancing. She creates her own projects and travels around the world to perform them. She teaches Salsa regularly in Leeds and Sheffield.

Marie-France is a professional dancer. She is a hip-hop dancer trained mainly in Breakdance, Locking and House. She learnt the fundamentals of hip-hop in an urban professional course in Valencia (Spain). She has since travelled across Europe improving the foundations taught to her and has danced, learned and battled in many countries.

The twins will present: Who is Marie? A dance piece about finding individuality. Two identical twin sisters, who have each journeyed separate paths, reflect upon their skills learned since their separation upon re-uniting.

Comparing the similarities and differences between themselves, to give a unique insight into what it is like to be a twin that has developed skills in different disciplines. Someone who looks alike but is different in thoughts, opinions and experiences but yet still shares the same roots. An almost complete mirror of one another, but yet a completely different reflection. This will lead the sisters into asking themselves, Who is Marie?

“We are excited to be a part of Roots of Rumba, an event that echoes our own values, encouraging the fusion and growth of dance styles, whilst maintaining the ideals and affinity towards having strong roots in traditional dance”.

Community and Emerging Artists: Tour


Leeds Samba – Unidos do Ritmo

(Performing in Leeds)

UDR will open the show with their Samba Funk performance from Brazil at Yorkshire Dance. They are a community drumming and dance group open to samba enthusiasts of all ages and origins. Unidos do Ritmo (United in Rhythm) formed in 2016, to be an authentic and regular ‘samba club’ or escola de samba for West Yorkshire and beyond.
Choreographer and co-founder Thali Bento is from São Paulo in Brazil and will be bringing a bit of Rio de Janeiro to Leeds. The rhythm funk carioca meets samba. Thali started learning ballet when she was 2 years old and since then she has never stopped dancing.

Rise Youth Dance (Bristol)

(Performing in Bristol)

Rise will be performing two taster pieces from their St Paul’s Carnival selection at our Carnival special at Trinity Centre. Rise feel honoured to join the Roots of Rumba line up and are very excited to share their carnival energy with you.

DOPE Male Performance Company

(Performing in Northwich)

D.M.P.C. (D.O.P.E. Male Performance Co.) are an emerging professional Hip-Hop influenced performance group, founded by choreographer Jack Robinson in 2012.

Company highlights to date include site-based Olympic Torch performances (The Moment When…); The National U.Dance platforms (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds and The Lowry, SalfordQuays) Big Up North Dance Theatre Festival (Dukes Playhouse, Lancaster) WBBL 2018 Finals Half Time Show and as part of ITF European Championships Opening ceremony (Liverpool Echo Arena)
They will perform TWISTED ILLUSION in Northwich at the Lion Salt Works. This work in progress explores the concept of nightmares using a hybrid of urban dance styles, contemporary dance and hip hop theatre as a movement language. The all male dance company portray different characters to perform a highly physical response to the question, how do we may feel when trying to wake from a nightmare? One of the characters tries to escape from their ordeal as the nightmare characteristics try to pull/ lure him back in to the darkness. The company has looked at how nightmares effect people individually, their thought and feelings but also at how many different concepts are associated with nightmares, trying to incorporate these themes into the piece.
Dope said “We are excited as an emerging company to be sharing the stage with such amazing established artists who we admire.”

DJs: Tour

DJ Lubi (Leeds/Serbia)

(DJing in Leeds, London (15th September))

Awesome Latin and Hip Hop sounds from Leeds based DJ Lubi (Lubi Jovanovic) is one of the UK’s best known salsa and Latin music DJs both at home and abroad. He is also a long time jazz/soul/funk/world music DJ and live music promoter. His career spans over 30 years working in all aspects of the business – international DJ, live music promoter, club promoter, radio presenter, record label PR and CD compiler. He began in 1982 spinning Mongo Santamaria/Tito Puente/Art Blakey/Tania Maria records in Bradford in the north of England as part of the UK jazzdance movement – hard bop, jazz fusion, samba batucada and mambo – and was soon running weekly sessions in the city including The Jazz Cellar (a DJ and live band night) and Wild Style (two floors – one rap/electro, the other jazz/Latin – breakers and jazz hoofers battling it out under one roof). By 1986, he was promoting his first salsa clubnight, Club Afro Latino in Leeds, one of the earliest outside London, plus guesting as a DJ across the country, playing bass in local jazz groups and leading his own Latin jazz bands. In the 1980s, DJ Lubi was also a working musician.

“Looking forward to playing at Roots Of Rumba once again and working with Ella Mesma who I have a long and happy association with going right back to her forming Element Arts in Leeds in 2005. DJing at her events’ after-parties is so natural as we both share a common love of great Latin American, Caribbean, Afro-American and African music past, present and future – salsa, samba, timba, funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz, rumba, reggaeton, afrobeat and dancehall. I’ll be playing all these on the night and look forward to an amazing dancers jam across all the genres represented by Roots Of Rumba. Bring it on!”

Nandy Cabrera Capucho – Selectorchico TM (Uruguay)

(DJing in Newcastle)

Born in Sweden in 1978 as a stateless person, mother and father uruguayan political refugees in exile. He resides currently in Montevideo, Uruguay.

DJ, and active music producer since 1999 under the pseudonym ​SelectorchicoTM having edited on independent labels such as Angel’s Egg (Japan) Vampi Soul (Spain) Flora & Fauna (Sweden) Frente Bolivarista, Psicotropicodelia (Brazil) Soundsister (Mexico) Sondor ( Uy) and having participated in festivals FILE (Brazil) FUSION (Germany) VAMOS (UK) Liminaria (Italy) Latinarab (Argentina)

Curator of the transmedia performance ​Revisitando Macondo on the Uruguayan record label of the 70’s of the same name. Co-curator of the sound area of ​​the British festival of Latin American culture ​VAMOS Festival of the city of Newcastle since 2016.

Institutional sound designer for ​Latinarab​, an international Arab film festival in the city of Buenos Aires since 2014. Post-producer and sound designer in several Uruguayan films, shorts and documentaries, having received several awards for his work, some of which are La Casa Muda, El hombre muerto, Chau Pelado, NEGRO, Amazónica.

Founder of the ​Espectral sound design studio (2005-2012) having done work for clients such as Unión Latina, Nat Geo and Uruguayan National Television, among many others. Founder, of the collective, party and virtual label Club Subtropical (2010-2016). Musician and composer in the band Tráfico, whose debut album was released in 2013, member of musical projects such as Plátano Macho, Spanglish Trax, Chocadores, Colectivo Remezclación, Ritmi e Rumori. Activist of the cultural association Triangulación Kultural in events such as AFRO EXPO and Uruguayan Music for Haiti, among others.

He is the youngest son of the Uruguayan poet Sarandy Cabrera (1923 – 2005) He has academic studies in arts, sound and computer science, parallel self-taught training in constant process. He speaks fluent French, English and Spanish, notions of Italian and Portuguese.

Supported Artists

In Newcastle and in London we will be spending time with a number of artists selected by application on developing their art with the hope that you will see their work when we are next on tour! Check these amazing emerging artists out:

Patricia Verity Suarez


Patricia Verity Suarez is a Movement Director based in Teesside and will be delving into her heritage as a Latin American/British person as part of her creative practice. Her main practice includes character physicality and ensemble exploration of the world of her work. Her choreographic experience is mainly in Movement Direction where she choreographs social dances/period dances that enhance the storytelling of the scene.

Recent Movement Director credits include: The Graveyard Boy (Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre, 2017), On Behalf of the People (NCME and Tour, 2017), 4×15 (Crucible Studio, 2017). Choreography Assistant: Kynren (Eleven Arches, 2018). Movement Placement: The York Mystery Plays (2016).

She is excited to be a part of Roots of Rumba and to grow creative connections through Afro-Latin Dance.

Juliette and Georgina Lance

Twins Juliette and Georgina will be exploring loss of control for a duet around mental health conditions that make the individual feel reckless and often isolated



Francis Odongo

Francis Odongo is from Nakuru Kenya and is an identical twin and highly skilled acrobatic duo, juggler, dancer and aerialists. Francis and his brother were talent spotted and won a scholarship at the Chinese Wuqiou Acrobatic Circus School. They became a premier double act in Kenya before being invited to the UK to join Let’s Circus in Newcastle. The main dance styles Francis uses are House, Breaking and Contemporary.


Ofelia Balogun

Graduated at the Metropolitan University in African&Afro -Caribbean, Contemporary Dance ( FDa) . Ofelia has been working for companies such as Irie! Dance Theatre, Union Dance Company, Ballet Nimba, I love Myself Hip Hop Dance Company, Movement Angol & Dance Noir Company. Her credits include Britain’s Got Talent 2016 semi-finalist, Kamel Nance , Southbank Mandela Tribute, Diana Zvjagintseva, Tavaziva, Patoranking, Wiz’kid, Shiikanee, Indigo face , Afro explosion dance festival l, ADAD. Ofelia is currently travelling and working on developing her choreographic voice focusing on Orishas Yoruba Dance and her dance language while, teaching for Irie! Dance Theatre, Union Dance and Danceworks dance studio.

Ofelia said about the project: “Your voice can be powerful with your artist community support. I hope to meet people that share the same values and promote the same message”.

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