Calabasa Calabasa Dancing and Making The Music of Life

Hotter Than July Deep Dive Workshops July 29-31, 2022
Experience African Diaspora dances, playing shekere, song, and vocal workshops

in this 3-day in-person intensive in Durham, NC

Class schedule below

Teaching Faculty

Calabasa Calabasa Director

Andrea E. Woods Valdés teaching
contemporary dance and shekere

with guest faculty:

Toya Chinfloo - Dunham Technique

Accompanied by Bashir Shakur

Jasmé Kelly - Vocal Work

Ursula Payne - Soul Line Dance

Oesa Vinesett- Afro-Cuban Folklore Dance

All 2022 sessions mask optional

Lunch provided Saturday and Sunday

Class Descriptions/Faculty Bios


Zoia Cisneros

Teaching - Samba no Pé 

Samba is not just a dance style.  It is culture, spirituality, stories, heritage, resistance, forever evolving and alive.  It is Brazilian, a pride of people’s hard work, originating from the rhythms and spirits inherited from Africa, merging with the experiences of oppression in America, resisting criminalization and rejection due to its African origins, contagious and captivating for its freedom and truth.  Samba is sweat that heals and keeps the heart beating.  Samba is danced out loud!  In this class, sharing what I have learned so far from afar with my mentors and instructors, my hope is to communicate its value with integrity, and for you to respect and get at least the gist of its magic. 

Born and raised in the barrios of the west side of Caracas, Venezuela, Zoia Cisneros started dancing at a very young age with her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to Salsa, Pachanga, Joropo, Cha Cha Cha, Merengue, ‘Rigui,’ Boleros and Tambor.  Her studio dance career started at age six with the study of traditional Venezuelan dances, Flamenco and Ballet with the Venezuelan dance company and school,  Danzas Venezuela.  Relocated to small towns of Southern Maine in 1993, then to Philadelphia, Belize, New Mexico, and North Carolina, she widened her study of dance exploring Jazz, Hip Hop, Belly Dance, West African, Afro-Cuban, Capoeira, Salsa and Modern dance. She has received fellowships for dance education and dance research working in Venezuela, Trinidad, Martinique, The Gambia, Senegal, and Australia. Zoia is a mother of three, currently training in Samba with Brazilian instructors from Rio de Janeiro via Zoom while also working as a registered nurse at Duke Regional Hospital's Postpartum Unit.  To honor all the women of her family, ancestors, and foremothers, Zoia Cisneros dances with her Great Grandmothers, a painter, housekeeper, and a housemaid, her Grandmothers, a cook and an engineer, her mother, an interpreter, and belly dancer.  Because dance is in her blood... 

Toya Chinfloo

Dancing Dunham with Toya


Dunham is a codified dance technique of dynamic movements accompanied by live polyrhythmic percussion music. Created by Katherine Dunham, the technique is an intersection of modern dance with high-spirited folkloric-inspired movements celebrating our voyage through the African Diaspora/Middle Passage. Class will include breathing, isolations, floor work, barre work, and progressions across the floor. Dancers are encouraged to bring water bottles, mat/towel for floor work, and white circle skirts or sashes for progressions.

Toya J. Chinfloo, M.Ed, Lead Dance Educator for Durham Public Schools, currently serves on the faculty of North Carolina Central University as an Adjunct Professor in the Theater Department. For over twenty years has been shaping and impacting the lives of children of all ages through dance. This New Jersey native received training from renowned teachers and performed with legendary artists in dance theatre such as Dr. Katherine Dunham, Lucille Ellis, Tommy Gomez, Vanoye Aikens, Talley Beatty, Alwin Nikolais, Lucille Hill, Ronnie Marshall, Milton Myers, Alfred Gallman, Bill T. Jones, H.T. Chen, Dr. Pearl Primus, Mabel Robinson, Larry Leon Hamlin, Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Titos Sompa, Ronald K. Brown, Mr. Mo-Mpongo and Dr. Chuck Davis.

Bashir Shakur - Dunham Class Accompaniest 

Bashir Shakur is a percussionist, composer, performer, educator, and recording artist whose unique blend of improvisational, and traditional percussion can be found on his latest release entitled “Visible”, with acclaimed Zimbabwean dancer and singer Nora Chipoumare.

In addition to his work with Nora, Bashir has recorded, performed, and/or toured with an array of diverse artists including Chuck Davis, Camille Yarborough (foremother of Rap), DJ Grandmaster Flash, Michael Wimberly, Waley Reyes Jr. (drummer for Santana), The North Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra, Bessie award winner Jawole Jo Zollar

and Reggae superstar Freddie McGregor. One of Bashir’s latest creations is his youth leadership program “Buckets and Beats”. Created in 2014 with funding from the Alvin Ailey Arts in Education program. Shakur developed a cost-effective, empowering, and fun 14-week percussion study with 3rd and 5th graders, using just two drumsticks and a bucket. Also playing with his acoustic Jazz, World, and Urban Music band “B-Shak Rhythm and Soul”. This quartet of adventurous musicians was assembled in 2012 and has been described as Be-bop Jazz, meets Afro-Beat, meets trance-inducing Urban Music. 


Shakur has been an artist-in-residence and or faculty member at many institutions including New York University Steinhart School of Education, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, Guilford College, American Dance Festival, Future Leaders Institute, Williams College and is currently on faculty at The Brooklyn Music School. In 2007 Shakur released his first solo album entitled “Steady Hands”.  Mr. Shakur would like to thank Allah for all his many gifts and blessings.

Kendra J. Ross

Pilates Mat Work

Pilates has been a consistent practice helping me to stay grounded, strong, toned, and to prevent/recover from injuries.  Creative Caribbean Movement uses traditional folklore movements that represent varying themes such as play, passageways, flow, beauty, and strength as a foundation to color and inform a modern dance combination. I would love to share my knowledge with you and your family and help you all transform your body and spirits. 

Kendra J. Ross is a Power Pilates Certified Mat instructor who has taught Pilates, fitness, and dance fitness classes at Power Pilates, Crunch, And Yoga Studios, Kala Yoga and various NYC public schools. As a dancer, Kendra has worked with Urban Bush Women, Andrea E. Woods/ Souloworks, Ase Dance Theater Collective, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence,Monstah Black, MBDance, Oyu Oro, Ase Dance Theater Collective and Movement of the People Dance Company. Kendra is a certified instructor in the Silvestre Technique created by Roseangela Silvestre of Salvador, Bahia, Brasil. Kendra has taught as an artist in residence at Detroit School of Performing Arts, Brooklyn School of the Arts, Brooklyn Studios for Dance, Bates College, Mixt Co. and Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance.  She has been a guest teacher at Florida A&M University and Florida State University. An avid student of many different movement modalities, Kendra’s classes focus on understanding the history, cultural contexts, and idiosyncrasies of the various styles she employs while recognizing the connections and applications in each body, mind, and spirit. Kendra specializes in teaching Pilates, Hip Hop, Afro-Cuban, and Contemporary dance. She challenges students to train their minds and bodies to understand the focus and initiation points of the various forms of dance and how to seamlessly move between each modality.

Shana Tucker

Tapestry of Songwriting - Vocal Loops 

In this class, we'll learn how to layer sounds to create a soundscape using rhythm, melody, and atmosphere, with the voice as the primary instrument. 

Cellist. Singer-Songwriter, Shana Tucker is an arts advocate, teaching artist, collaborator and cultural conduit. In each role, Shana Tucker is a
builder-of-connections, whether she’s associating STEM concepts with backbeats or engaging a packed house through candid song-storytelling in performance. Shana's unique genre of ChamberSoul weaves jazz, roots, folk, acoustic pop, and a touch of R&B into melodies that echo in your head for days.

A sought-after collaborator, Shana performs and records with legendary jazz saxophonist/composer Bennie Maupin, jazz flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell, Grammy-nominated NuSoul collective The Foreign Exchange, and countless others. Recent North Carolina dance/cello collaborations include They Are All, an exploration of living with Parkinson’s
Disease, presented at American Dance Festival 2019 with Culture Mill choreographers Murielle Elizeon and Tommy Noonan; Continuing To Tell, a multidisciplinary public-space performance presented by Proxemic Media that highlights the history of Civil Rights in Durham, NC.

A front-line advocate for arts education, Shana is an accomplished teaching artist, with over 20 years of experience with community engagement, workshops, lesson planning, and artist residency facilitation. She currently serves as Executive Director for Kidznotes, a music-for-social-change organization in Durham, NC.

Oesa Vinesett

Opening with Eleggua/Afro-Cuban Folklore

Eleggua is an Orisha often depicted as representing crossroads, the opening and closing of paths, and a sometimes-childlike mischievousness; as such, movements for Eleggua typically invoke a sense of being off-kilter and playful. This class will focus on foundational steps that incorporate syncopation, polyrhythms, and necessary subtleties. 

After ten years of practicing Capoeira with Capoeira Brasil, Oesa Savionne Vinesett transitioned her love of movement to dance. In school, she spent her time performing salsa and bachata with Sabor: Columbia University’s First Latino Dance Troupe and studying Afro-Cuban Orisha dance and rumba under her phenomenal mentor, Rebecca Bliss. For multiple years, Oesa also acted as a musical accompanist for her mother Ava Vinesett’s practical courses at Duke University, under the direction of her father, Richard Vinesett. She believes hands-on familiarity with polyrhythms is one of the absolute best ways to understand body movement, timing, and nuance. Oesa currently resides in Durham and is a member of the collective Indigo Yard Gals.

Andrea E. Woods Valdés


Teaches a unique blend of modern dance shaped by African Diaspora movement that incorporates shekere playing and vocalwork into the dance style. In NYC, Woods Valdés performed as a member of Women of the Calabasa under the direction of Madeleine Yayodele Nelson. The formation of her group Calabasa Calabasa and dance-shekere-vocal work is a continuation of the WOTC legacy and an homage to Madeleine Nelson.


Woods Valdés is a dancer/choreographer/video artist and musician. She is Director of the Duke University Dance Program, Souloworks/Andrea E. Woods & Dancers, and founder of wimmin@work, a series of interdisciplinary, intergenerational performance and teaching events that develop facilitate the production of wimmin’s creative work, develop Black audiences, mentor and create space for new and developing teachers of African Diasporic-centered dance forms. Woods Valdés developed Calabasa Calabasa Deep Dive to share the dance/shekere/vocal work and process and introduce other teachers, artists, and creatives committed to African Diaspora embodied liberating practices reflecting social justice awareness. Woods Valdés is currently in Ph.D. studies in Dance at Texas Women’s University.

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