Teaching Artist Matthew Clough-Hunter

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Matthew Clough-Hunter.

Matthew Clough-Hunter is a Los Angeles-based performer, composer, and educator who specializes in several Balinese gamelan traditions including angklung, gong kebyar, gendèr wayang, gambuh, kecak, and gamut. He is a member of several gamelan ensembles based in Southern California: Burat Wangi, a community-based gamelan at CalArts directed by I Nyoman Wenten; Merdu Kumala, a community-based gamelan directed by Hirotaka Inuzuka that teaches gamelan workshops and performs throughout the country; Giri Kusuma, a gong kebyar ensemble affiliated with Pomona College; and Sekaa Gambuh, an ensemble that specializes in an ancient repertoire played with meter-long bamboo flutes.

Recently, Matthew taught gamelan at Opus 6 (a summer camp program organized by the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra), participated in Performing Indonesia at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., and performed with renowned Indonesian guitarist Balawan.

Matthew earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in World Music with a focus on Indonesian music and composition, and a BFA from Denison University in Music Performance on jazz guitar. Outside of his work in the realm of gamelan, Matthew enjoys songwriting and performing. His songs can be found under the artist name “Cloudhopper” on streaming sites such as Spotify. Music composition, performance, and education are among the strongest driving forces in Matthew’s life, and he feels “so happy when [he] can excite someone about the possibilities of their input in music.”

Matthew Clough-Hunter and Hirotaka Inuzuka performing gender wayang

Gamelan Merdu Kumala performing at the 2022 Balinese Gamelan Festival in Colorado

Idrissa Bangoura: Drumming, Song, and Movement from Guinea

Idrissa Bangoura was born in the Mande region of Guinea and is part of the Susu culture group of West Africa. He speaks Susu, French, and English. Coming from a family of performers, he first learned djembe drumming from his two older brothers, Bengaly and Mohamed. The latter were both soloists for the Ballet Africain de Guinée, based in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. From them, Idrissa learned about proper playing techniques, drum repair, and goat-skin drum head replacement. They also introduced him to the traditional rhythms of Guinea and gave him the knowledge, techniques, and insight necessary to truly enjoy playing the djembe, among the most sophisticated rhythm instruments of Africa. 

In addition to being a skillful percussionist, Idrissa is an accomplished athlete and acrobat, formally trained at the Keita Fodeba Centre for Acrobatic Arts, also located in Conakry. He has worked as an instructor, performing artist, dancer, and acrobat, and has toured with the prestigious Montreal, Canada-based equestrian performing company Cavalia in their show Odysseo, which highlights a diverse cast of acrobats, aerialists, riders, and horses from all over the world.

Based in San Diego since 2017, Idrissa teaches acrobatic arts to children and frequently performs with the Fern Street Circus, a local community circus for underserved youth. In the fall of 2021, he joined the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program as a distinguished teaching artist. Students at the Monarch School in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood and at Bird Rock Elementary in La Jolla have been happily immersed in traditional djembe drumming, song, and movement under Idrissa’s able guidance. The Monarch School program is being funded by the Jason Mraz Foundation and Macy’s Foundation.

Because of his diverse training and performance background, Idrissa is able to incorporate aspects of song, movement, dance, and instrumental music performance that offer students in our World Music in the Schools program a view of the culture and the language of the Susu people of Guinea. Idrissa’s passion for teaching is driven by the excitement his students express in learning about cultural traditions and the history of his native country. 

We are delighted and proud to have Idrissa Bangoura on our roster of distinguished teaching artists.

Learn more on Idrissa Bangoura’s website.  Here’s a YouTube video of Idrissa and daughter Adama performing for the San Diego Unified School District and the Fern Street Circus.

Kaylie Kirby: A Full Circle Experience

Student Kaylie in Museum School class (back right)

In 1999, Kaylie took her first class in Balinese gamelan and dance at Museum School in San Diego. It was a new charter school with a new vision: to incorporate music and other creative arts—seen as fundamental to child development—into the standard curriculum. The Museum School reached out to the Center for World Music (CWM) for help. It was the very first year of the CWM’s youth education program, World Music in the Schools, and the beginning of what would become some of the organization’s most rewarding work: matching accomplished and experienced teaching artists to residency programs within San Diego area K–12 schools.

Kaylie Kirby was in 5th grade when the Balinese gamelan program was initiated at Museum School, where she studied under I Nyoman Sumandhi (music) and Ni Putu Sutiati (dance), and later Alex Khalil (music) and Kaori Okado (dance). Training in music and dance was offered to students at Museum School, which at the time included 3rd through 6th grade. There was also an after-school program for intermediate and advanced students. Kaylie thrived in this program, taking lessons during school hours and participating in the after-school program during her years attending Museum School.

Kaylie with daughter

Upon graduation from 6th grade, Kaylie continued her involvement with the Museum School’s gamelan and dance program by attending weekly rehearsals after school. Alex and Kaori had created a performing group with the advanced students called Puspa Warsa, in which Kaylie had the opportunity to perform for numerous universities, festivals, and news stations all over Southern California for several years. Throughout this time, she continued to assist with the intermediate students’ after-school program at the Museum School. She also had the opportunity to study under other Balinese masters, including Dr. I Nyoman Wenten, renowned Balinese performing arts director at CalArts and UCLA. In 2018–19, she was a member of the Balinese gamelan anklung ensemble at the University of San Diego, directed by Dr. David Harnish. 

Fast forward to today; Kaylie’s daughter is currently a kindergarten student at Museum School and a member of their Balinese gamelan program, now in its 22nd year. We are excited to welcome Kaylie, as she shares her expertise and passion for Balinese arts as a teaching artist of the gamelan ensemble at Museum School!

This is a true full-circle story that humbly reminds us that the work we do and have been doing for decades in the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program is valuable, important, and to many, life-changing.

Welcome back, Kaylie!

Kristina Cunningham: Teaching Ballet Folklorico in San Diego Schools

The Center for World Music is thrilled to welcome Kristina Cunningham to the roster of talented teaching artists in our World Music in the Schools program. She is currently sharing the beauty of ballet folklorico with students at Monarch School, a program funded by the Jason Mraz and Macy’s Foundations.

Kristina is a first-generation American of Mexican descent. She first experienced ballet folklorico while attending a rehearsal at her neighborhood church in Barrio Logan at the age of three. Even then, she was mesmerized by the dancers, and soon began lessons with Ballet Folklorico de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. She continued studying and performing with this same troupe all through grade school. During college, Kristina expanded her repertoire by extensively studying West African dance, hip-hop, ballet, and modern dance.

Kristina Cunningham. Photo by Sue Brenner Photography.

Kristina is currently the Director of DanzArts Children’s Academy, a division of DanzArts, a non-profit dance school based in Liberty Station. She has also served as principal dancer for over 10 years with DanzArts Sabor Mexico Dance Co, where she has performed at Southern California venues including Copley Symphony Hall, Balboa Theater, and Cerritos Performing Arts Center. In addition, she performs annually with Grammy-nominated Mariachi Sol de Mexico. She continues to refine her craft by training with folklorico masters, including Joel Gutierrez, and attending master artist workshops such as Danzantes Unidos.

Kristina truly loves teaching dance to the youth in our community. Her own children are currently studying ballet folklorico and Spanish flamenco and she is proud to often have them share the stage with her.

Kristina brings decades of dance experience and expertise to San Diego school students through World Music in the Schools. The joy she brings to children’s faces as they learn ballet folklorico is unforgettable. Please help us welcome her to the Center for World Music.

Juan Carlos Blanco: Afro-Cuban Music and Dance

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Juan Carlos Blanco.

Juan Carlos is an inspiring dancer/teacher whose creativity and knowledge is internationally noted. He is also a humble man and world class performer.

—Dolores Fisher, Educator, Blogger, Poet, Pianist

In his exuberant Afro-Cuban movement and music classes, Juan Carlos Blanco enjoys transmitting cultural knowledge of his ancestors through engaging community activities that focus energy and express joy. It’s hard not to have a smile on your face and a bounce in your step when visiting his classroom. At the same time, his teaching is not only about fun. Whether it’s dancing or drumming, for him it is also important to take the time to explain and convey historical and cultural context. This, he believes, allows students to gain a well-rounded appreciation of the new skills and art form(s) they are learning.

Juan Carlos was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, where he performed with several professional companies for over 15 years before coming to the U.S. In his youth, he began his performance career with the folkloric arts groups Cumballe and Oba Ilú in his hometown of Guanabacoa, a community of Havana known for its rich Afro-Cuban cultural traditions. He later joined one of Cuba’s most renowned folkloric companies, Raices Profundas (Deep Roots), soon becoming lead male dancer and soloist and touring Latin America and Asia.

Juan Carlos’s desire to deepen his knowledge and cultural expression inspired his involvement with several diverse art groups in Havana. He performed with Teatro de la Havana in a number of theatrical plays including “De Mi Tierra Vengo,” “Maria Antonia,” “Santa Camila de la Havana Vieja,” and “Requip por Yarini” with Arte Popular Theatre Company. He also spent several years working with the Franco-Haitian company Ban Rra Rrá as percussionist and instructor of Afro-Cuban dance.

While in Cuba, he was charged with the responsibility of training both professional Cuban dancers and educating foreign students through the Instituto Superior de Arte and the Escuela Nacional de Arte. He served as artistic director for the folkloric ensemble Arawe that toured Peru in 1997. He also choreographed several productions in Havana, including Afro-Peru, a collaboration with Peruvian singer Argelia Fragoso, and “Trilogia,” produced with Raices Profundas.

Since coming to the United States, Mr. Blanco has been featured in various Afro-Cuban productions in the California area, as dancer and guest choreographer for groups such as Olorun, Alafia, and Taifa. Most recently was the musical director for Onstage Playhouse’s 2021 production of “A People’s Cuban Christmas Tale.

In 1998 Juan Carlos founded Omo Aché Cuban Cultural Arts, a San Diego-based organization dedicated to preserving and presenting Cuba’s rich cultural heritage of music and dance. With Mr. Blanco as its artistic director, the Omo Aché Afro-Cuban Music and Dance Company performs in schools, universities, and multi-cultural venues throughout California.

 

Juan Carlos Blanco in class at Integrity Charter School, National City, CA

 

Mr. Blanco has traveled throughout the United States teaching master workshops in Afro-Cuban percussion and dance. In the San Diego area, he has taught through community classes and institutions such as UCSD, Palomar College, Grossmont College, San Diego City College, and Cal State San Marcos. For many years, he has dedicated himself to teaching kindergarten through 8th-grade students at King-Chavez schools as well as students in the Sweetwater Union High School District. In Tijuana, Juan Carlos has also taught percussion and dance to elementary students at Escuela Primaria Miguel Guerrero, Primaria Guadalupe Victoria, and other schools through WorldBeat Center’s bi-national cultural exchange partnership program with I.M.A.C. (Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura). His students have presented their work at community celebrations and festivals throughout the region.

Currently, under the auspices of the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Juan Carlos is teaching a residency in Afro-Cuban dance at the San Diego French American School. We are proud to have him in our roster of distinguished teaching artists.

Enjoy this glimpse into Juan Carlos’s life as an artist, a rough cut of a documentary by Lili Bernard:

Laurel Grinnell-Wilson: Bringing Javanese Gamelan to San Diego Students

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Laurel Grinnell-Wilson.

Laurel in the gamelan room at SDSU

Originally from Northern California, Laurel has been an avid musician since childhood. After exploring the piano, flute, and violin, she started on the drum set when she was 15, playing in her first band with her brother, San Diego bassist Justin Grinnell.

Laurel graduated from Sonoma State University, earning her BA cum laude in jazz performance studies. While teaching and working freelance for several years, she discovered a passion for world music, bringing together her love of anthropology and her love of music. She went on to earn her M.A. in ethnomusicology with honors at San Diego State University.

Laurel and son Cedar with Pak Djoko Walujo and his wife, Ibu Endang

Laurel has studied Balinese, Sundanese, and Javanese gamelan, performing in Indonesia and throughout Southern California. Since 2007, she has been training intensively under the guidance of renowned gamelan composer, performer, and teacher Djoko Walujo Wimboprasetyo. Laurel has also studied West African drumming, Senegalese kora, as well as Zimbabwean mbira and marimba. With a deep interest in the ways in which cultural-linguistic context and music inform each other, she continues to broaden her expertise in ethnomusicology. 

Currently, Laurel is a lecturer and director of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at San Diego State University. In her role as a World Music in the Schools teaching artist, she serves as assistant director of Canyon Crest Academy’s Javanese gamelan ensemble, supporting the director, her mentor and CWM master teaching artist Pak Djoko. In addition, she continues to perform as a freelance jazz artist and as percussionist for musical theater productions and the San Diego Women’s Choir. She has appeared with artists such as Allison Adams Tucker, Lori Bell, Steph Johnson, and Monette Marino.

When she’s not performing or teaching music, Laurel is a mother to two children and an artisan soap maker

Here’s a short YouTube clip of Laurel playing bonang barung with the SDSU Javanese gamelan, accompanying dancer Casey Lee Sims:

— Contributor Evan Ludington is a student at Canyon Crest Academy and an intern for the Center for World Music.

Mariachi playing for seniors

Access to World Music for Seniors, Fall 2021

Eight Ways That Music Can Support Young People’s Wellbeing and Learning: In ‘Catch Up‘ and Beyond

All of us working in music education, community/youth music and music therapy, are only too aware of the toll that the last year has taken on young people—as well as staff, participants, customers and partners. Many of us have relied on music even more during the pandemic, as this study showed. With increased pressure on young people to ‘catch up’, music could be just the thing to bring some balance and pleasure into their lives. It can also support learning and wellbeing in a range of important ways.

Listening to music can change our mood and help us reflect on our feelings and experiences. Actually making music can help deepen that process, and making music with others brings further, overlapping, social, emotional—and educational—benefits. Music is deeply rooted in our evolution as a species—it’s no surprise that scientists have found that no other activity connects and activates so many different parts of the brain (see also the video further on).

We hope this article will help reinforce why it’s important for us as adults to do everything we can to support, and open up opportunities for young people—and all people—to make music.


This article was written by Anita Holford, a communications practitioner specializing in music for a social, educational and wellbeing purpose based in the UK. It was first published on her website: https://writing-services.co.uk/eight-ways-that-music-can-support-young-peoples-wellbeing-and-learning-in-catch-up-and-beyond/.


1. MOOD: Improving mood and calming the nervous system

The most well-known benefit of music is that it’s a powerful tool for improving mood: whether it’s singing and songwriting, music producing, or playing an instrument. Music can reach us and prompt emotions and feelings in ways that no other activity can. It can take us out of ourselves, help us get into a state of ‘flow’ and focused attention, and be more able to cope with stressful, difficult feelings. It can raise our spirits, and calm our nervous systems. There are also lots of studies into the biological pleasure principle in music, including the release of dopamine and stimulation of endorphins, chemicals that produce a feel-good state.

There is research to show that people need to experience autonomy (feeling in control), competence (feeling good at something) and relatedness (feeling connected to others) in order to achieve wellbeing[1]. This is something that making and learning music provides in spades (see also point 3).

There’s a developing evidence base to back this up: examples can be found here. And music is increasingly offered by schools, arts and music organisations, and the NHS [National Health Service (UK)] as an intervention for mental health and wellbeing.

2. COPING: Learning to regulate emotions and cope with challenge

Making music takes practice, and involves taking risks, failing and persisting in the face of challenge. The more you try, fail and pick yourself up, the more you are learning how to regulate your emotions, cope with challenge and believe in your own abilities to succeed (self-efficacy[2]). This is part of what is called ‘executive functioning’—which provides the skills we need to manage ourselves and our lives (and is also linked to higher academic achievement).

From around 2010 onwards, researchers interested in music and the brain began to publish findings that linked learning music to better-developed executive functioning; for examples see: Musical training could improve executive function, Brain imaging shows enhanced executive brain function in people with musical training and Playing a musical instrument could help with anxiety, behaviour and attention.

Many of these executive function skills are strengthened through learning and making music: including paying attention; understanding other’s feelings and points of view; planning and problem solving; and seeing consequences from actions. So music can be particularly helpful for learners who struggle to engage in learning, and/or have experienced challenging circumstances—particularly when guided by a suitably experienced music tutor or mentor who is attuned to their needs.

3. CONFIDENCE: Building confidence and self-esteem

By providing positive challenge and encouraging a young person out of their comfort zone, music can bring growth and build confidence and self-esteem. Performing with and in front of other people is of course a big part of that, and that’s one of the many reasons why making music in a group is such an important part of musical learning. Building resilience, confidence and self-esteem is linked to many of the other factors in this list.

4. EXPRESSION: Encouraging self-expression and processing of emotions

All forms of music allow young people to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas to the world, with or without words. It can help us to make sense of experiences from an emotional perspective. Sometimes it’s not possible to put feelings into words and that’s where music excels. Music can also help young people to experience strong emotions in a safe way—particularly helpful again children who’ve experienced or are experiencing challenging circumstances.

5. SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE: Developing social and emotional intelligence[3]

Learning music with another person, and particularly in a group of musicians, develops a range of social skills. We learn to pay attention to others, pick up on non-verbal cues, notice what’s happening in the group and respond appropriately, take turns in playing, give feedback[4]. Again many of these are skills linked to executive function.

Picture of the Brain

Picture: Dr David M Greenberg.

6. CONNECTION: Connecting with others: creating social bonds and community

When we make music with others—particularly in a music group—we experience all the benefits that come from social bonding and feeling part of a community. One of the ‘Five ways to wellbeing’ [5] which have been used widely in mental health and wellbeing work in the UK*, is to ‘Connect with other people’, as this helps build a sense of belonging and self-worth; gives an opportunity to share positive experiences; can provide emotional support and allow you to support others.

A recent study highlighted five key functions and mechanisms of the brain that contribute to social connection through music, which are: 1) empathy circuits, 2) oxytocin secretion (the ‘love’ hormone), 3) reward and motivation including dopamine (please and reward hormone) release, 4) language structures, and 5) (reduction of) cortisol (the stress hormone).

7. LEARNING: Learning to learn (metacognition) & self-assess

A sense of accomplishment is an important tool in developing wellbeing. Even better, like all good learning practices, it encourages self-assessment and reflection, because we need to understand why something ‘worked’ or didn’t work musically.

This is known as ‘meta-cognition’ (learning to learn), helping young people think about their own learning more explicitly by setting goals, and monitoring and evaluating their own progress towards them. Read The role of metacognitive skills in music learning and performing – a report and evidence review exploring how reflection helps musicians at all stages with independent learning skills and metacognition.

Read about meta-cognition on the Education Endowment website

8. RESILIENCE: Finally, strengthening brains for lifelong resilience

Learning music – particularly an instrument – develops our brains in deep and powerful ways. No other activity has been found to connect the three main parts of the brain (the auditory, visual and motor cortices) with such accuracy, speed and flexibility and that’s why scientists looking at the effect of playing an instrument described it as like fireworks in the brain, because so many parts of the brain were activated at once:

[PODCAST] Listen to an interview with music researcher and educator Dr Anita Collins, about music and its effects on young people’s brains

Dr Nina Krauss of Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory in Illinois says: “Making music can have a profound and lifelong impact. The experience of making music appears to create a more efficient brain, in a sense it super-charges the nervous system, and enhances a person’s ability to listen, learn and communicate, especially through sound—and that can have long-term affects on a person’s wellbeing.”

Visit www.musiceducationworks.org.uk for more research about the impact of music education and sign up to the enews.

Notes

[1] Digital music production charity, Noise Solution, has based its practice around this theory, called self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2018).

[2] Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their own ability to manage and succeed in situations, through a constant process of self-evaluation linked to emotions, motivations and behaviors (Bandura, 1986). Perceptions of self-efficacy determine the level of effort given to tasks, task engagement and goal-setting. “The higher the sense of efficacy, the greater effort, persistence and resilience” (Pajares, 1996).

[3] An evidence review funded by the Cabinet Office highlighted a range of benefits arising from a music project (see: What works in enhancing social and emotional skills development during childhood and adolescence):”Among the projects reviewed, a number of learning processes stood out as supporting developments in self-efficacy and resilience, including encouraging autonomous exploration of young people’s issues through lyric writing, and providing facilitated opportunities to become young mentors, enhancing feelings of mastery and self-belief, and demonstrating profound empathy. One-to-one mentoring delivered alongside music-making provision was instrumental in enhancing feelings of belonging for many participants who receive little to no support outside of the provision. Close mentoring relationships also enhanced learner autonomy through the use of personalised learning plans which encouraged personal goal-settings and participant choice.”

[4] A one-to-one relationship with a trusted adult can be a powerful support for wellbeing: “Mentees were helped by their mentors in relational ways: as caring adults who had time to talk; as adults working in social pedagogic ways. But crucially also as fellow-musicians they wanted to learn from, rather than authority figures there to tell them what to do. Again, the music was central to the development of the mentee: mentoring was rarely something that happened formally; as music mentoring, it ran through the whole interaction with the mentee. Music was acting as a communication system, an art beyond words, and recognition of development could be a look or just knowing. The act of making music was intrinsically a mentoring one.” Excerpt from Move on up an evaluation of youth music mentors, Youth Music, 2011

[5] The Five Ways to Wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation from evidence gathered in the UK government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. The Project, published in 2008, drew on state-of-the-art research about mental capital and mental wellbeing through life. The Five Ways are: connect with other people; be physically active; learn new skills; give to others; pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness). It’s easy to see how music can help with all of these.

Bernard Ellorin

Bernard Ellorin: Scholar and Teacher of the Music of the Philippines

Bernard Ellorin, Ph.D., Center for World Music teaching artist and board member, is much loved and highly respected as a cultural treasure and leader within the Southern California Filipino community and beyond.

Dr. Ellorin is the leading expert on maritime Southeast Asian gong-chime music in Southern California. He is also a master of the Filipino banduria (a version of the Spanish bandurria, a plucked string instrument similar to the mandolin) and the associated rondalla music. He is versed in the percussion music of the Cordillera Mountains of Northern Luzon, as well as being one of the few Philippine kulintang instructors in the United States. Kulintang is an ancient instrumental form of music played on a row of small, horizontally laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums. Dr. Ellorin has served the San Diego and Los Angeles communities as a performing artist and educator since 1992, and is the musical director of the Samahan Filipino-American Performing Arts and Education Center.

Kulintang Ensemble

Bernard Ellorin leads his kulintang ensemble. Photo Jonathan Parker

He began his studies in the music of the Philippines at the age of ten, as a young banduria musician with Samahan Performing Arts. At age twelve he commenced kulintang studies with native Maguindanao master artist Danongan Kalanduyan. More recently, he has studied under a number of other master artists from the Philippines, with whom he maintains ongoing professional relationships, thereby keeping up-to-date in contemporary cultural developments.

Photo courtesy of Kingsley Ramos

Ellorin received a BA degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles and earned his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. In 2003, along with a few of his friends and colleagues in San Diego, he founded the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble (PKE), which he now directs. Through PKE, he presents educational workshops for San Diego schools and youth groups. His knowledge and dedication to the proliferation of Maguindanao and Maranao music also enables him to act as a valued resource for many university Filipino cultural organizations. He continues to teach in the San Diego area as a lecturer and faculty member at Miramar and MiraCosta Colleges.

In 2012, Ellorin was awarded a research fellowship under the Fulbright Research and Study Abroad program, during which time he conducted a comparative study on the musical culture of the Sama-Bajau in Semporna District in the Malaysian state of Sabah, and in Batangas City, Philippines. He has subsequently written several scholarly papers on Sama-Bajau performing arts, and also serves as a consultant to Filipino-American diaspora performing arts groups throughout the US. He is now a three-time grant recipient with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) through their Apprenticeship and Living Cultures program.

Ellorin has been a teaching artist with the Center for World Music since 2016, and became a member of the Center’s Board of Directors in 2020. 

Contributor Kim Kalanduyan is Dr. Ellorin’s former apprentice under the ACTA apprenticeship program, and is the granddaughter of Maguindanao master artist Danongan Kalanduyan.

For more reading about Bernard Ellorin and his teaching, performance, and research:

A Journey Home: Kulintang Music from San Diego to Mindanao

A Career in “Roots” Music from Positively Filipino Magazine

Lakshmi Basile: Flamenco Dancer

The Center for World Music is delighted to welcome Lakshmi Basile to our family of outstanding teaching artists in residence, joining our World Music in the Schools program.

Lakshmi Basile, nicknamed “La Chimi” by her peers, is a flamenco dancer and performer of the highest level. To watch her in motion is an enchanting experience as she enters an almost trance-like state, becoming one with the music. It’s clear the dance is coming from somewhere deep inside of her, connecting to ancestral spirits and roots that are impossible to describe with words. They have a word for this in Flamenco: duende. Those who have been in the audience or have clapped palmas around the fire while Lakshmi dances know what a magical experience it can be.

Offstage, Lakshmi is down-to-earth and laughs easily. It’s inspiring to see how she takes a dance that can be intimidating for many and breaks it down in a fun and engaging way for her students. Her passion and expertise gently guide her lessons in a way that’s accessible for all, no matter the age or experience.

But who is this ethereal artist, and where did she come from?

Photo: Paco Sanchez

Lakshmi Basile began performing at the age of six with her parents’ band The Electrocarpathians. She grew up in a bohemian household filled with music and dance with her father, a prominent San Diego musician, and her mother, an artist from Argentina. She studied dance at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, the University of California Santa Barbara, and within the flamenco community of San Diego, finally traveling to Spain at the age of 20 to complete her flamenco studies. She was quickly embraced by artists and teachers, and found work in tablaos and at private flamenco events alongside well-known artists.

“La Chimi” became one of the first and only foreign artists in Spain to win a coveted national prize, the Concurso de las Minas de La Unión, and she was also awarded the Concurso Nacional de Arte Flamenco de Córdoba. There she surprised flamenco critics, and received high praise from Alberto García Reyes, ABC, who described her performance as “un desgarrador homenaje a los románticos de lo jondo” (a heart-wrenching homage to the romantics of pure flamenco).

Before returning to San Diego, Lakshmi worked for over fifteen years in Seville, the cradle of flamenco, where she performed daily as a soloist at the tablao El Palacio Andaluz. She has worked alongside significant artists in private events and festivals internationally, including Great Britain, Denmark and Uruguay, and produced her own show in Spain called “Zarabanda, Lo Que Duerme en el Cuerpo de los Gitanos” (Zarabanda, What Sleeps in the Body of the Gypsies).

She is sought after as a teacher by flamenco students in Spain and the United States, and we are very fortunate to have her teach and perform in San Diego. Lakshmi Basile has found her purpose and career as a flamenco dancer because that is what she is in her soul and heart.

Photo: Sari Makki-Phillips

“Su baile es de una alegría conquistada” (Her dance is one of conquered joy). — Félix Grande, poet and flamencologist

“La única cosa americana que tiene es su pasaporte”  (The only American thing she has is her passport). — Ángel Ojeda, former Minister of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía

Welcome, Lakshmi, to our Center for World Music family! We are so delighted and honored to have you join us.

See a preview video of Lakshmi’s Living Room Learning dance lesson

Visit Lakshmi’s flamenco dance website