Tom Levy

  Some people who take dance classes regularly have a saying: “Dance is my church.”

Dancer Stella Adelman says just that about going to Afro-Cuban folkloric dance class. “There’s a release to it,” she says. To her, it’s a place where she can reflect and find some clarity through movement. To some practitioners this clarity comes from being active and getting exercise, for others, it’s literally a spiritual practice.  

The Bay Area is home to many instructors of Afro-Cuban rhythms. Music and dance lovers come from all over the world to participate in workshops taught by some of the most loved teachers and dancers from the Cuban Diaspora. Many of them have found home here.

Under CC license from Flickr user Mr.TinDC

Caroyln Brandy started playing the conga drum in the late 1960s.

“It was something that women didn’t really do back in those days,” Brandy says. “You didn’t grow up and think, ‘I’m gonna be a conga drummer.’ I started just being really mesmerized by the conga.”