Who are Melbourne Djembe?

Run by Simon Lewis and Mitzi McRae, Melbourne Djembe is a creative company specialising in West African drumming and dance. We provide instruments, tuition, performances and corporate drumming experiences.

A full range of Djembes, Dunduns and other West African instruments are available ready to go or custom made.  We re-skin all types of drums, repair instruments and provide expert advice on all matters of instrument care. Check out our shop to buy online or call Simon Lewis 0425 753 553 and arrange a time to come and see our home-based warehouse.

Simon Lewis

Director, Percussionist and drum maker

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 orchestral and jazz, his versatility and broad knowledge of music gives  students a unique entry into the world of African drumming. Simon is a passionate and dedicated artist who is committed to sharing the joy and positivity of drumming.

Simon has performed in Japan, Europe and has performed at Womadelaide, Woodford 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, The Funky Monkeys Circus band, and The Marabou Project.

Mitzi McRae

Director, Dance Instructor

Mitzi has studied West African dance for over 15 years and has travelled to Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and Mali) and also to the United States to further her knowledge by learning from the masters. She is a natural teacher and over the 10 years of teaching African dance she has developed a unique style which provides a relaxed and open environment which is cherished by her students.

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. Many of her students have been attending classes for as long as she has been teaching!

Testimonials…

‘I love being in a class where people are so caught up in the dance that they don’t realise they’re grinning.’

‘Since doing the dance classes, I feel much more comfortable with my body. I don’t think twice about wearing bathers or tight fitting clothes anymore’

‘..the steps are a sheer joy and Mitzi’s class always gives me a great experience of flow and spring which re-energises me for the rest of the week’

Kwame Tosuma

Dancer

Having performed throughout Ghana, Mali, Benin and South Africa and now living in Australia, Kwame is emerging as one of Australia’s most talented in the traditional and afro-contemporary dance forms. Like many of Ghana’s top dancers, Kwame began practising his art on the street. Finding a passion for dance he was picked up and rigorously trained by the renowned Joe Mensah, and later joined the Namo Ale Cultural Troupe, where he learned the intricacies of traditional Ghanaian dance.

Nick Adam, drummer, smiling for the camera

Nick Adams

Dundun drummer

With a love for music that started with playing drum kit in Blues and Rock music, Nick started hitting the tubs at age 12 and hasn’t stopped yet. Nick has studied music in Darwin, Lismore and Melbs. He has been performing and teaching a wide range of music styles on drum kit and percussion all over Australia for 20 years. Nick regularly plays dunduns for dance classes and in the performance group Wassawumba.

African drummer/dancer smiling

Lamine Sonko

Performer/workshop facilitator

Born in Senegal to a family of artists, 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 is a talented drummer, dancer and singer.

Ronald Morales

Drummer

Chilean-born Ronald Morales has studied djembe for 10 years with many master players including Dartagnan Cámara, Harouna Dembele, Bassidi Koné, Famoudou Konate, and Bolokada Conde. Ronald has focused his learning on djembe and dunun; and the importance and connexion of these instruments in regards to West African dancing. Ronald is an established and capable teacher.

Adeniyi Ekine

Event management & presenter

Adeniyi Ekine (Nigeria) is a multi-skilled media consultant who has a background in film making, TV/radio presenting and MC. He is a human rights activist and works tirelessly to create community and promote peace.
He has worked in the entertainment industry all over the world, including West Africa, Singapore, Dubai, Korea, Taiwan and Egypt.

Adeniyi has a charismatic personality and excellent communication skills. He works with Melbourne Djembe to organise, promote and MC drum and dance events.

African drummer smiling, playing djembe

Ousmane Sonko

Drummer

Ousmane comes from a mandinko family of musicians from Senegal. He is a drummer, singer, guitarist and composer. He has been playing all west African drums since his youth.

Lou Wang

Dance teacher

Dancing all her life, Lou trained in ballet as a child and jazz and contemporary as a teen but it wasn’t until she met Mitzi and discovered West African dance that her passion really started to thrive.

Lou has now been training with Mitzi for four years. She traveled to California in 2018 to learn from some of the best artist in the world at ‘Camp Fareta’ and is soon to travel to Senegal for intensive training and to bring some moves back home!

Nii Kpakpo Addo

Drummer/Dancer

Nii Kpakpo Addo is a well-known Ghanaian master dancer, drummer and choreographer. He is a multi-instrumentalist with over 24 years’ experience in performance and has toured in Sweden, Israel, the USA and many African countries. Fred has worked with dance companies such as Nokoba Dance Company, Kusun Ensemble and the Anunyam Traditional Music and Dance Troupe, and he recently hosted a peace festival in Nungua, Ghana, called Womba Africa. Fred is passionate about promoting peace and unity through tradition.

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