Djoniba Students Perform Sinte

Happy 31st birthday to our partner Peridance Capezio Center!
VIDEO of the beginner students of our Joneeba African Dance class celebrating the occasion on Sat 7th at the Skirball theater!
Mon-Wed-Fri 7:30p / Sat 2p. Djoniba Mouflet designed the class for total-2 left-feet beginners and breaks down the steps
so everyone can get it, have fun and sweat!

My First Performance

I remember when I first decided to perform in a showcase with the Djoniba Centre. I was never a dancer before coming to the Beginner African classes. Me, perform on a stage? But everyone in class was so supportive that I decided to try it out. And I am so happy that I did.

In the weeks leading up to the showcase, we would stay for rehearsals after class to practice the steps we learned that day. It was great chance to get to know the other people who came to the Djoniba Centre. We get to sweat together in classes, but before the show we got to know each other breaking down the steps, making our costumes, and getting everything ready. The rehearsals gave me the chance to really understand each step and to get corrections. I improved more in the weeks leading up to the showcase than I thought possible. And with all the extra dancing (and extra sweating!), I lost weight and felt myself getting even stronger.

When the night of the performance came, I kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Over and over, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” And when it was over, I couldn’t believe I had done this. And I couldn’t wait to do it again.

Watch a video of the show!

Learn Afro-Caribbean Dance with Richard Gonzalez

Learn right here, right now a Afro-Caribbean dance with Richard Gonzalez. Come to Djoniba Centre to take his class and learn many more steps and have a great time!
TUE 7:30-9:00pm / THU 6:00-7:30pm

The Afro-Caribbean dance from the video:  Richard’s dance is fused with the influences of Caribbean rhythms and traditions. His training in Katherine Dunham technique at the Alvin Ailey Dance School is incorporated in the principles of alignment with the vocabulary of Caribbean dance.

Afro-Caribbean Dance
This master teacher of Afro-Caribbean and varied contemporary dance forms exhibits in his dance a strong ethnic fusion that result of the African, Spanish and Taino influence ever-present in the Caribbean.

Richard Gonzalez
Acclaimed for his inspirational classes, Richard Gonzalez, choreographer, musician, and performer, is nationally recognized as a premiere interpreter of Afro-Caribbean folkloric and contemporary dance. Baba Richard who over the course of his 25-year career has shared the stage with notable artists, has participated in numerous dance festivals, and has served as instructor and lecturer at dance conferences.

The Spine 1: Master of your body !

The following information is intended as a resource and should not be used to self-diagnose or treat.

Over the next few issues of the Djoniba Newsletter, we will share with you critical health information concerning your back with particular focus on the spine.  From the back structure to potential injury and injury prevention to safety tips, we will address those different topics as an information guide to help you better understand your back.

The spine structure: Your back is a complex and intricate structure of bones, muscles, and other tissues extending from your neck to your pelvis.

Your spine is a column of 33 bones (called vertebrae) that extend from your skull to your pelvis.  Between each vertebrae  is an intervertebral disk that acts as a shock absorber.



The spinal disk:  The spinal disc has twobasic parts: an inner Jell-O like center called the Nucleus Pulposus and an outer surface called the Annulus Fibrosis. The Nucleus Pulposus  is the water-rich (proteoglycan-rich), gelatinous center of the disc.  The Annulus Fibrosus  is much more fibrous (tougher) than the nucleus, and is made of a tough cartilage-like substance. Its main job is to hold-in-place the highly pressurized centre (nucleus), which can escape its central prison.




The vertebrae are made of  bones and are divided in four sections: Cervical vertebrae (your neck), Thoracic vertebrae (your upper back), Lumbar vertebrae (your lower back), and the Sacrum and Coccyx (the base of your spine).

Each Vertebrae is referred to with numbers and affect different part of your body:


C1: To supply blood to the head, pituitary gland, scalp, bones of the face, brain inner and middle ear, sympathetic nervous system, eyes, and ears.

C2: Eyes, optic nerves, auditory nerves, sinuses, mastoid bones, tongue, forehead, and heart.

C3: Cheeks, outer ear, face, bones, teeth, trifacial nerve, and lungs.

C4: Nose, lips, mouth, Eustachian tube, mucus membranes, and lungs.

C5: Vocal cords, neck glands, and pharynx.

C6: Neck muscles, shoulders, and tonsils.

C7: Thyroid gland, bursa in the shoulders, and elbows.


T1: Arms from the elbows down, including hands, arms, wrists and fingers; oesophagus and trachea, and heart.

T2: Heart, including its valves and covering coronary arteries; lungs; bronchial tubes.

T3: Lungs, bronchial tubes, pleura, chest, breast, and heart.

T4: Gallbladder, common duct, heart, lungs, and bronchial tubes.

T5: Liver, solar plexus, circulation (general), heart, oesophagus, and stomach.

T6: Stomach, oesophagus, peritoneum, liver, and duodenum.

T7: Kidneys, appendix, testes, ovaries, uterus, adrenal cortex, spleen, pancreas, and large intestine.

T8: Spleen, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, adrenal cortex, small intestine, and pyloric valve.

T9: Adrenal cortex, pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, ovaries, uterus, and small intestine.

T10: Kidneys, appendix, testes, ovaries, uterus, adrenal cortex, spleen, pancreas, and large intestine.

T11: Kidneys, ureters, large intestine, urinary bladder, adrenal medulla, adrenal cortex, uterus, ovaries, and ileocecal valve.

T12: Small intestine, lymph circulation, large intestine, urinary bladder, uterus, kidneys, and ileocecal valve.


L1: Large intestine, inguinal rings, and uterus.

L2: Appendix, abdomen, upper leg, and urinary bladder.

L3: Sex organs, uterus, bladder, knee, prostate, and large intestine.

L4: To prostate gland, muscles of the lower back, sciatic nerve

L5: Lower legs, ankles, feet, and prostate.

And finally, the SACRAL VERTEBRAE (in green) or COCCYX VERTEBRAE (in purple), at the very bottom or tip of the spine.

Source: /

Next issue: The different injuries associated with your Spine.

Winter fun in December!

Please send us your listing of any African-based world events – concerts, shows, exhibitions – so we can share with our members!



Samba Saturdays!  Check out The Brazil Show @ S.O.B.’s (204 Varick Street, NY, NY) on Decmber 15th & 22nd.  (212)-505-8183

Dec 29 @ S.O.B.’s (204 Varick Street, NY, NY

Special EventThey Call Me Q! A One-Woman Show by Qurrat Ann Kadwani
Thursday, Jan 10 7:00p
One and One, New York
The Inspired Word Presents They Call Me Q! A brilliant one-woman show written and performed by award-winning actress Qurrat Ann Kadwani .

African Soul Jam ~ Dance Party
Saturday, Jan 12 10:30p
The Five Spot, Brooklyn
DJ SM and DJ Fola spin the best mix of African club favorites in NYC: Afrobeat, Coupe Decale, Soukous, Kwaito, and more.


African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde
November 27, 2012–April 14, 2013
Special Exhibition Tells Story of How African Artifacts were First Recognized as Art in U.S.
Location: Michael C. Rockefeller Special Exhibition Gallery
The Metropolitan Museum of Art


West African:  Ebe Ye Yie (2364 Jerome Avenue, Bronx, NY)  The menu of fresh main courses from Ghana changes daily at this tasty spot.

Senegalese:  Dibiterie Cheikh (231 West 116th Street, Harlem, NY)  This restaurant features sweet plantains, yassa chicken and fish, and much more to please your palate.

Ethiopian:  Awash (338 East 6th Street, NY, NY)  Delicious spicy and buttery finger foods await you at this East Village find.

West African Benne Cakes

I don’t know about you, but I often need a sweet treat after an action-packed dance class with Djoniba.  This recipe for Benne Cakes comes from West Africa, where the benne seed (known here in the U.S. as the sesame seed), originated.  Though called a cake, this treat is more like a cookie.  Benne seeds contain a small amount of protein and are commonly thought to be good luck, so make a wish and sample a benne cake from your own kitchen!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Oil  to grease a cookie sheet
  • 1 cup finely packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 Degrees.
  2. Lightly oil a cookie sheet.
  3. Combine the brown sugar and butter, beating until they are creamy.
  4. Stir in the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, salt and sesame seeds.
  6. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet two inches apart.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are browned.
  8. Eat and enjoy!


*Retrieved and adapted from and

Don’t Skip Meals!

Skipping meals cause your body to go into a fat-storing starvation mode, making it harder to burn calories.  Eat three meals a day.

Don’t drink any beverage other than water for one week.

Go vegetarian for a week. Go vegan for a week. Or just eat less meat.
You’ll save money too!

Halfway through your meal, taking a break from eating.  Give yourself time to evaluate how full you are.

If you want a snack, pick something healthy that’s high in fiber.

Stay away from processed foods.

Leptin, the hormone that tells your body that you feel full, goes down when you’re sleep deprived.  Get a good night’s rest.

Have a regular exercise routine somewhere in your schedule.
A great online resource:
Another great site:
Great healthy recipes:
And one last link:

Fun around town in June!

Send us your listing of any African-based/world events -concerts, shows, exhibitions – so we can share with our members.

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS this month for our members at select partner venues. Check them out below.

* Afro Cuban Concert: New School Afro-Cuban Jazz Band by Bobby Sanabria – The last Sunday of every month, 8 pm: Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 236 East 3rd Street, New York, (212) 505-8183
Samba Saturday’s: Berim Brown – Every Saturday, 12AM: SOB’s, 204 Varick Street, New york, (212) 243-9490
Haitian Dance Party: Every Friday, 12AM: SOB’s, 204 Varick Street, New york, (212) 243-9490
* Harlem Gospel Choir Sunday Brunch: Sunday, May 6th, 11AM: BB Kings Blues Club, 237 West 42nd Street, (212) 997-4144

* Brazilian Guitarist: Carlos Barbosa-Lima – Wed, May 2nd, 7PM: America’s Society, 680 Park Avenue, New York (212) 249-8950
* Haitian Day Parade and Spring Fest: Sunday, May 27th, Nostrand Ave. (from Linden Blvd. to Foster Ave.,

* African Art, Ancient and Contemporary Exhibition:
African Innovations – Ongoing: Brooklyn Museam, 200 Eastern Pkwy, Prospect Heights, NY (718) 638-5000
Brazilian Photography: Orfeu Negro Exhibit Opening Night: Thursday, May 10th,
7-10PM: FB Gallery of Brazilian Art, 368 Broadway, #209, New York (917) 495-2457

Middle Eastern: Sahara, 126 East 13th Street – (212) 539-9955, 30% discount with Djoniba Discount Card
African: B&B African American, 165 West 26th Street, New York (212) 627-2914
* African: Nomad African Tapas, 78 2nd Avenue, (212) 253-5410
* African/French: Ponty Bistro, 218 3rd Avenue, (212) 777-1616
Haitian: Krik Krak, 844 Amsterdam Avenue (212) 222-3100


Weight Loss Tips

Losing weight can be a real challenge.  By taking baby steps and making a sequence of small changes, you can gradually train your mind and body and any changes won’t be such a shock to your system.  In no time, you’ll lose the weight and gain the healthful body and lifestyle that you desire!

Rather than overwhelming yourself with too many goals, we suggest that you start immediately and for the next month follow the few tips below.  With every upcoming issue we will give a few more weight loss suggestions to add to the existing ones.

GOAL #1: CHANGING YOUR HABITS AND LIFESTYLE. ( more tips in our next issue)
Diets are temporary quick fixes that often do not work. Changing your everyday eating habits will help maintain your weight or meet your weight loss goals.

1/ Avoid using the word “diet” or telling people you are on a “diet.”  A better suggestion is to say that you are improving your health and fitness status while working on a healthy lifestyle or any other positive statement without the word “diet”.
2/ Before and after photos will help you stay focused.  It sucks to see yourself in a body that you are not pleased with, but this will help motivate you to change and it’s the best way to see your progress.  The “after” photos are way more fun to capture and share. Make sure to post pictures of the new healthy you!
3/ Reading labels is more important than we think. Although it seems like a waste of time, you have to do it – there’s no way around this.  If you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth, you’re eating blindly.  Don’t assume that what you are buying is ok because it says it’s healthy. Check the ingredient list and serving sizes, calorie and sugar count.

GOAL #2: CHANGING THE WAY YOU EAT AND DRINK ( more tips in our next issue)
Bad nutrition is one of the major factors for putting on weight.  Years of bad eating and abuse cause massive depletions in Enzymes, Vitamins and Minerals that support a healthy metabolism.  Once your body is depleted from the needed metabolic resources, its ability for burning fat and metabolizing carbohydrates simply shuts down because it is unable to get the job done.  Then, every time you put something in your mouth, you gain weight. Without the right nutrition, you might lose some weight by reducing your calories and exercising, but you’ll certainly gain it all back when you return to your normal lifestyle.

1/ Eliminate soda and carbonated beverages. Soda is one of the worst, if not the worst, drink when it comes to reducing calories. What you can do for your body is to  replace the soda you are drinking with water. Water is essential to a healthy nutrition program. It helps you feel full and has zero calories, no matter how much you drink!  The fact is that when you are hydrated the way you should be, your body can burn fat much better.
2/ Watch the size of each meal. You may or may not pay attention to your meal portions and realize that they are way too enormous for you. For each dish find out what the per pound calorie count is and readjust accordingly.
3/ Your fork is not a shovel. Avoid eating fast and shoving in a meal in record time.  The problem is that the brain doesn’t know that the stomach is full until many minutes after it actually is.  Eat slow and once you’ve consumed half of your plate try to pause for at least 15 minutes, then if you are still hungry continue to eat.  It is advised not to feel stuffed.


1/ A regular schedule is key. Once you’ve found a workout that you enjoy, do your best to stick with it. Exercise no less than three times a week for 40 – 95 minutes each time.  It is as important to have a regular work-out schedule that you stick to as it is to have a schedule for your everyday life.
2/ African-based dance classes with live drumming. ( African, Brazilian, Haitian, Afro-carribean, and belly dance are now known as the new holistic fitness alternative.  Taking these dance classes puts you totally in balance physically, mentally and spiritually. As a balance to the physical part of the workout, the ancient live drum rhythms merge with the rhythm of your spirit, making you move and work out with a freedom that you’ve never experienced before. “The hypnotic power of the live drum rhythms excite, prod, lull, captivate, pull, envelop, and inspire you to continue on and get fit without realizing it. People no longer have to “survive” working out; class is so fun and addictive that they hate to miss it. Students vibrate not just on the physical but also the spiritual level. Classes are available at Djoniba Dance Centre; ).

Learn Haitian Dance with Peniel #1

Learn right here, right now a Haitian dance with Peniel Guerrier. Come to Djoniba Centre to take his class and learn many more steps and have a great time! Friday 6-7:30pm

The Haitian dance from the video:  The dance shared with you that you can now learn and practice at home is a step from the dance named “Koyi”.  It represents the mermaid Queen of the ocean named “Lasire”.  She is beautiful, strong, and proud.

Haitian Dance
Haitian dance is a blend of African, Indian and French traditions. When Africans were brought to Haiti to work as slaves, they also carried with them their music, dance, religion, rituals, and customs. Over time, the African cultural traditions evolved and melded with the indigenous Indian and French cultures. Voodoo is at the root of Haitian dance. According to Haitian religion and folklore, the gods and goddess, called Loa or L’wa, created dance movements. Such movements encompass a broad range of dynamics from subtle to aggressive.

Peniel Guerrier
Peniel Guerrier began his formal dance training in 1987. Herve Maxi, the most prestigious teacher in Haiti, was impressed with his dancing and invited Peniel to study in his school. Subsequently Peniel danced with the National Dance Theatre for 8 years and toured all over the world: Venezuela, Paris, Hungary, Japan, Montreal, Germany, Santo Domingo, and the United States. During this time he also toured with the Baccoulou Dance Company.