With more than 15 years of teaching experience Simon is highly regarded as a teacher of world percussion. He has lived and studied traditional djembe, dundun, balafon and kora in Guinea West Africa with Master drummers Lamine Soumah, Aliou Sylla and the world famous Les Percussions De Guinea. He is well known for his insightful and innovative teaching style which is both fun and challenging.With a background in classical and jazz his versatility and broad knowledge of music gives students a unique entry into the world of African drumming.
Simon has performed in Japan, Europe and has performed at Womadelaide, Woodforde and many other major festivals around Australia. Founder and leader of The World Rhythm Ensemble and Zazu Simon is currently performing with many of Melbourne’s most dynamic percussion based ensembles including Wassawumba, Asiko, and The Marabou Project.
Mitzi has been studying and performing African dance for over 10 years. She has studied Afro-jazz, Soukouss and West African dance with leading African dancers in Melbourne, and has travelled to West Africa four times to further her experience. Mitzi has travelled to Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia, where she performed with two ballets and took private classes in dance and percussion. In Melbourne, Mitzi has performed with soukous bands Matata Sound and Vox Congo, West African percussion and dance ensemble Wassawumba , Kassa Dibo, Marabou Project and as a freelance dancer for many percussion groups at festivals, markets, corporate events and performance evenings. Mitzi runs school workshops in African dance and teaches weekly at Melbourne Djembe in Brunswick South .
Mitzi has been hailed as one of Australia’s best non-African female dancers and captures the energy, vitality, joy and strength of the African dance style.
Matt is a performer and teacher of music with over 20 years experience. He studied guitar at Victorian College of the Arts and has a diploma of teaching from the University of Melbourne. Matt's great passion for African and Latin music is apparent as a percussionist and guitarist as well as his great love of writing, recording and performing all world ethnic music styles. Matt regularly plays in a kora/guitar ensemble with Simon Lewis.
Ousmane comes from a mandinko family of musicians from Senegal, he is a drummer, singer, guitarist and composer. He has been playing since his early ages all west African drums.
I have played drum kit for over 15 years and it was Simon and Mitzi who introduced me to the exciting music of West Africa. I have had practical experience in the fields of motor mechanics, bike repair, cabinet making/carpentry, welding and teaching. Under the watchful eye of Simon I am now embarking on the craft of drum making…What better way to combine my passions than by creating instruments that I love to play!’
My thirst for West African dance lead me to Africa in 2005 and 2006 where I studied traditional djembe dance with legendary Mariama Camara from Les Ballet Africans, Guinea’s national dance company. I returned to West Africa in 2007 to study the infectious and provocative Wolof tradition of Sabar dance.
A vibrant and captivating dancer, talented drummer and beautiful vocalist, Seydou has recently arrived on Australian shores from Senegal. Showing amazing passion and talent in the performing arts, he has been highly sought after to perform around the country
Since mid 2007, Justin has learned the crafts of drum making and balafon construction and maintenance. Building, skinning and repairing drums including dun duns, djembes, bongos and congas, Justin has gained experience and knowledge on what makes a great drum.
BASSIDI KONÉ (age 26) is a well renowned, versatile djembe and balafon player of exceptional talent. At the age of 20, he formed his award-winning, 10-piece ensemble, ‘Bwazan’, who perform internationally. Bassidi is a supportive, warm and patient teacher with a positive energy and an infectious smile.
Dan started playing the flute at aged 10. His musical education includes a Certificate in Jazz performance from NMIT, and an improvisation degree from the Victorian Colleg of the Arts. Daniel adds his original touch to the sound of the West African Kora in the group Casamance (since 2005).
Born in Senegal, West Africa, to a family of ‘Griots’ - which means ‘Culture Keepers’ - Lamine began to play music when he was 7 years old. “We are the Griots and have the obligation to pass dances, songs, music and stories to generations.” Lamine grew up in an artistic family. His father, Bouly Sonko, has been the director for Le Ballet National Du Senegal for 30 years, and Lamine’s mother is a well-known Senegalese dancer.