CWU News

CWU Hosts Free West African Dance and Drumming Workshop

Master teacher Darryl Thomas

Master teacher Darryl Thomas will teach West African dance and drumming at Central Washington University during a two-day workshop on January 31 and February 1.

The free workshops will be held in Nicholson Pavilion Dance Studio 106 and are open to the public.

According to CWU Professor of Dance Therese Young, this is the first time in more than a decade that African dance instruction has been made available at Central.  

“This is such a culturally rich genre,” said Therese Young, who is also the dance program director. “There are West African cultural dances that have been around for hundreds of years and they also have set drumming rhythms--you don’t perform certain dances without the correct rhythm--they go hand-in-hand.”

Workshop participants have the opportunity to learn drumming, dance, or both.

Drumming and dance instruction will be held both days:

  • Friday: Dance Class 1-2:30 p.m.; Djembe Drumming Class 3-4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: Drumming Class 9-10:30 a.m.; Dance Class 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

At the conclusion of Saturday’s workshop, Thomas will hold a one-hour lecture demonstration at 1:00 p.m.  The demonstration will include both the drummers and dancers who participated in the workshop.

Twenty-five drums will be available for use. However, participants are encouraged to bring their own drum if they have one.

Thomas received his Master of Fine Arts in performance and choreography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has performed with Kankouran West African Dance Company based in Washington DC and studied Senegalese dance and drumming with company members of Le Ballet Nacional du Senegal in Dakar, Senegal.

Thomas is currently a professor of dance at Western Oregon University where he teaches West African dance and drumming, modern dance technique and a host of other genres including hip hop, salsa, and improvisation.

The West African dance and drumming workshop is sponsored by the Ellensburg Arts Commission, CWU dance program and College of Education & Professional Studies (CEPS).

Media contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,