© 2015 The Rhody Center

410 Tiogue Ave

Coventry, RI 02816

(401) 475-5955

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Teachers

Erika Ahern

Erika is a former Champion Irish Step Dancer. She started dancing when she was five, and obtained formal training locally under Deirdre Goulding and DeDe Golden, and in Ireland under Tony Nolan. She loves that she can pass along her skills and traditions to her three daughters.

Erika has performed with several groups, including The Saw Doctors, Black 47, The Wolftones, and at the session at Patrick's Pub. For years she taught a group of women in Providence called the Celtic Daughters, who would perform at the Providence St. Patrick's Day Parade, as well as young ladies at Rhode Island Training School.

Jesús Andujar

Jesús Andujar is a Latin jazz master percussionist who was born in Samana, Dominican Republic. He is the founder and musical director of Grupo Sazon, a group of musicians that performs throughout the New England area, playing music of the Spanish Caribbean diaspora, including salsa, merengue, bachata, cha cha cha, calypso, and Latin jazz.

Greg Autry

Greg Autry has decades of experience as a guitarist working with a variety of local acts in the southern New England area as both an instrumentalist and recording engineer. His mission as an music educator is to help students discover their own voice on the instrument by developing a solid fundamental skill-set, while keeping it fun and remembering the the magic is sometimes in the mistakes.

Katy Baldwin

Katy Baldwin graduated from Dean College in Franklin, MA with a BA in dance focusing on performance and dance pedagogy. While at Dean, she was a member of the Dean Dance Company, performing in ballet and modern roles. She completed a senior internship as a dance instructor. Also during that time she was selected to attend the summer intensive program at the Ailey School in New York City. After college Katy performed with Boston Dance Company, Island Moving Company and Spindle City Ballet as well as taking opportunities to teach dance locally. Katy took several years off from dancing to start a family and attend nursing school, graduating with her second bachelors degree. In recent years she has performed with Providence Ballet Theatre in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas as a guest artist and continues to perform soloist roles regularly with the Spindle City Ballet in Fall River.

Nishtha Baranwal

Nishtha has choreographed Bollywood fusion dances for children, young adults, and older individuals since 2004. She started dancing through cultural programs in her hometown, which exposed her to Dandiya Raas, Bhangra, Marathi folk, and classic Bollywood styles. She received formal training in the classical dance form, Bharata Natyam for over eight years. Nishtha performed with her undergraduate university’s bhangra team and was also captain of its Bollywood Fusion team. One of her favorite experiences has been teaching older Indo-Americans dance for the non-profit organization Jeevan Jyoti.

Nishtha’s classes generally start with a warm up session, a learning choreography session, and a cool down session. The music she chooses ranges from older, classic Bollywood songs to modern, upbeat Hindi and Bhangra music, to also modern reggaeton and hip hop. She loves to tailor her classes to her student’s interests and abilities, and encourages everyone to focus on having fun!

Michael Diaz

Michael Diaz, aka Nano, was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and now lives in Pawtucket, RI. At the age of 11 years old, Michael was inspired by a music video of Chris Brown, and hasn’t stopped dancing ever since. He was mentored by Kelvin Fabian, Tovah Muro and Rhode Island’s notable teacher Nikki Carrara. He is known for his ability to improv and for his stage presence. His participation in national conventions and competitions resulted in various scholarships including The Alvin Ailey program and Broadway Dance Studio both in NYC. After graduating from a performing arts high school In 2015, Michael decided to continue his journey of dance by joining an urban dance company called “Thr3e Live Dance Co. He is currently still with them and defining.

Kyle Forsthoff

Dr. Kyle Forsthoff is a diverse percussion educator and performer based in Richmond, Rhode Island. He is currently on the Adjunct Faculty at the University of Rhode Island and is an instructor at The Rhody Center for World Music and Dance. His performance and research interests include Rudimental drumming from both the US and Europe, Irish Traditional Music, frame drumming traditions from around the world, the music of Latin America and Brazil, and Gamelan traditions from Indonesia. Kyle has taught or performed in a large number of musical ensembles and has performed throughout the US, in Europe, and in Asia. He is a proud endorser of Yamaha Percussion Instruments, Cooperman Drums, and Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets.

Michelle Geer

Michelle studied Dance and Psychology at Dean College in Franklin, MA where she received a BA in 2017. During her undergrad, she completed her internship at The Dance Studio of Orange, MA, learning the inner workings of studio management and creative direction. Her decision to make the move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island led her to take a service year with Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), serving the Woonsocket community through Riverzedge Arts. Her role as their ELO Program Assistant has opened Michelle’s eyes to the non-profit world. 

As a dancer, Michelle explores various rhythms and groves through improv and  grounded movements. She encourages students to not simply learn the steps and go through the motions, but to connect to their natural groundedness and weight; allowing it to guide them fluidly between steps and ultimately freeing their preexisting flow of musicality. As a self-proclaimed lifelong student, Michelle is always ready to learn from the things happening around her, and enjoys engaging in all things creative.

Joseph Godfrey

Joseph Godfrey is a pianist and educator in New England. He holds degrees in Jazz Studies from the University of South Carolina (MM) and Jazz Performance (BM) from the University of Rhode Island. Performance highlights include performing at the Newport Jazz Festival (2013) and Falmouth Jazz Festival (2012). Joseph performs in many venues in the New England area as a solo pianist and as a member of a small ensemble. Functions include wedding ceremonies, receptions and cocktail hours, restaurants, church services, business events, social events and private functions.

 

Joseph has taught private lessons, small classes and coached jazz combos at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, and Friends of the Music Mansion. He currently teaches at the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School and Rhody Center for World Music and Dance and plays in two bands; Panoramic View and 10:2. Joseph is active as a performer in New England as a pianist equally proficient in jazz, classical and popular music.

Mori Granot

Mori Granot, originally from Israel, has been dancing Salsa for over 14 years. Starting with Cuban style salsa Casino, she then learned LA style salsa on1, which then led her to Salsa on2, NY Style Salsa, where she fell in love. Mori dances and teaches both as a leader and a follower. Always striving to improve as a dancer, she is currently under the tutelage of Ana and Joel Masacote, from Masacote Entertainment. Previously she had been coached by Anara Frank, from MetaMovements, where she also taught, along with other local instructors in Puerto Rico and Cuba. Besides Salsa, Mori also teaches lady styling, body movement, Casino Rueda, Bachata, and Merengue. She has performed at many Salsa Congresses and Salsa venues in the US and Internationally. Along with teaching and performing, she has also dedicated her time to choreographing. In 2009, Mori became the co-director of Mambo Pa Ti dance company with Carlos Gonzalez, where she taught and choreographed many routines until 2012, when she left to start up her own dance company, RI Latin Dance. Currently with RI Latin Dance, Mori teaches salsa at Brown University as the sole instructor for the Brown Salsa Club. Also at Brown, Mori is the coach/choreographer for the Brown Salsa Club performance team, Alma Salsera.

Lola

Lola Matta is a second generation belly dancer; her mother was a belly dancer and her father is a musician from Lebanon. Lola has studied middle eastern dance ("raqs sharqi" as it's called in Arabic) in Lebanon and in Egypt, and has had the privilege of performing there as well.

In addition to belly dancing, she also specializes in Hawaiian Hula and Tahitian Ori. She is the director of the Polynesian fusion hula dance troupe, Polynesian Fusion.

She can be seen performing all over New England both as a soloist, as well as with her dance troupe. She entertains at luaus and birthday parties for children and adults, bridal showers, weddings, and corporate events. She is also available for private lessons.

Julie Raimondi

Julie grew up always playing some sort of instrument or another (an egg slicer and a plastic Smurf guitar were her first two instruments), sang and played piano, and played clarinet and string bass in her high school bands. She also danced a lot of tap, jazz, and ballet when she was young, and later explored dance forms like Middle Eastern dancing and salsa dancing. At the University of Rhode Island, she studied music and played the string bass in several jazz bands. She went on to study ethnomusicology at Tufts University and the University of California, Los Angeles, where she got to play in a wide range of world music traditions, playing in ensembles like a West African ensemble, a Near East ensemble, a bluegrass ensemble, and a couple of gamelans (Indonesian orchestras). Now she enjoys playing and teaching the ukulele, sharing the joy of music making with as many people as possible!

Elizabeth Rivera

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Elizabeth grew up dancing and performing hula (Hawaiian dance) from a very young age. After leaving the islands to pursue school, she discovered other dance forms and grew to realize the universal nature of dance – that no matter what language one speaks, dance is a language that everyone can understand. Before settling in New England, she lived in Spain and in the former Soviet Union. After completing her studies, Elizabeth moved to Boston and discovered flamenco dance. She studied with Ramon de los Reyes and soon became a part of his company, The Ramon de los Reyes Spanish Dance Theatre. Like with her hula, Elizabeth performed and taught flamenco, using the dance and its music to share the beauty and complexity of one of Spain’s musical styles and the people who live it. Now living with her family in Pawtucket, she is excited to bring Flamenco dancing to the Rhody Center! 

Kristen Watson

Kristen has danced classically since the age of three. She has been dancing with Kanina for nine years and has studied under Karim Nagi, Phaedra, and Rianna. She has also been a member of the Beledi Dance Company for about three years. You may have seen her dancing at some of the local restaurants or hookah lounges! She has focused her studies on dancing with the scimitar. She loves the music, culture, and community that belly dance brings. While she's not twirling around in fancy costumes, she's a nurse and a mother.

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