En Français

congas arriving by motorcycle cab
Special delivery
Alliance Française
Street performance by Group Folkloyuma
Street performance by Group Folkloyuma
Casa particular
Rehearsal for Carnaval
conga insruction
Let me get that...
Afrocuban dance class
Afrocuban dance class
Orchestra rehearsal
Drum recital
Drum recital
Band class
Afrocuban percussion
Afrocuban percussion
Dinner celebration
Dinner celebration
Ritmacuba comparsa arrives!
Ritmacuba comparsa arrives!
Rumba at Artex
Rumba at Artex
La Conga de Los Hoyos
La Conga de Los Hoyos

Music and Dance classes in Santiago de Cuba
– July 2017 –
Ritmacuba has been organizing programs in the music, dance and culture of Cuba since 1989. More than just courses, Ritmacuba offers a chance to immerse yourself in the culture and life of the city of Santiago de Cuba. Your contact with teachers, musicians and dancers will allow you to establish a good rapport with Cuban people. Ritmacuba offers an extremely flexible program that you can adapt to your needs with up to four classes a day. The July program offers Ritmacuba participants the opportunity to form a comparsa group with dancers and musicians to parade in Santiago’s biggest annual event, Carnaval. Some knowledge of French or Spanish is strongly recommended as they are the languages of instruction. That said, music and dance are universal languages. Comfortable accommodation in a casa particular (private home) will be arranged for you and will include breakfast. Lunches will be served where the courses are given.
Ritmacuba band 2011, Veinte Años
Check out Ritmacuba's research videos and videos of previous years' summer programs on their youtube channel www.youtube.com/user/ritmacuba

Each year's program is unique and a number of not-to-be missed activities complementing the courses are arranged for the group. Activities may include a rumba performance with a party afterwards, a visit to a rehearsal of the oldest conga comparsa group in Santiago, the Conga de los Hoyos, a chance to dance along in the “Invasion of the Congas” pre-carnaval, a chance to form our own carnival group and be official participants in the parade, a demonstration of tumba francesa, a day at a local beach off the beaten path complete with pig roast, private concerts, etc. Plus, outside of the program, there are lots of places to go out at night, dance and even sit in with the band - Casa de la Trova, Casa de la Musica, Casa de las Tradiciones, Los Dos Abuelos, Artex, and during Carnaval (July 21-27 for 2016), the streets! During Carnaval there are inexpensive or often free concerts with major timba bands like Pupy y Los Que Son Son and Anacaona.

Ritmacuba participants before the judges at Carnaval 2011 Guitarras y Trovadores welcome concert 2011 for Ritmacuba at the Alliance

What are the details on cost and dates?

Interested in joining the 2017 trip?
Please send a message to Joyce Humbert with any questions. It is now possible to pre-register without any obligation to be sure you will have a spot in the classes of your choice. jh-canada@ritmacuba.com .

Dates - Return flights of July 16-30 from Paris; Toronto and Montreal flight information not yet available. For those making other transportation arrangements, you must arrive in Santiago on July 16 or the morning of the 17th and stay until the morning of July 28, 2017 to participate in Ritmacuba.

Price - 2017 prices not yet confirmed. Program (all classes and activities), accommodation, breakfast and lunch for July 17-31, 2016 + return airfare Toronto-Santiago with taxes and Visa approx. $1828 CDN*. With return airfare Montreal-Santiago, $1978.00 CDN*. (dinners not included but are very reasonably priced). Please send an email to address in above paragraph for exact breakdown and/or download the pdf below.

*exact price always dependent on currency fluctuations; subject to change. Based on double occupancy, private accommodation can be arranged.

Download PDF for more detailed information


What classes are offered?

~ All instruments, percussion (Afro Cuban and popular) and voice

~ Salsa/casino rueda and Afro Cuban dance

~ Option for all participants: Formation of a comparsa (group) in the local style, conga oriental, with corneta china (Chinese trumpet), singing, percussion and dance. The comparsa will rehearse after classes in the afternoon.

On the last day, all classes will perform what they have learned and the orchestra students will give a concert open to the general public at the Alliance Française as part of their cultural programming.

Course details

The teachers and assistants are Cubans who have earned recognition in their field. They are chosen for their competence and teaching experience with foreign students. They are professional musicians, dancers and/or teachers who belong to or lead traditional groups or companies.

Please note: The teachers speak Spanish and/or French; a few may speak some English.


• Dance

Cuban salsa – 3 levels

Casino rueda – intermediate and advanced

Popular Cuban dance – son, cha-cha-cha, pilón, comparsa, 3 levels

Afro-Cuban dance – Orisha dances, rumba, cuban-franco-haitian styles of Oriente, conga, all levels. Course accompanied by local percussionists.


• Percussion

Popular Cuban percussion – bolero, son, cha cha cha, pilón, mozambique, comparsa, etc. for congas, bongos and small percussion. 2 levels

Afro-Cuban and batá – 2 courses at different times with different material. Batá drums; bembé, congo, afro-cuban-haitian styles on hand drums and bells

Rumba – cajón and congas


• Various instruments (and percussion)

Son/salsa orchestra – the format of the orchestra and the arrangements will depend on the level of students who enrol and the instruments they play.

Singing popular Cuban repertoire (Spanish) and Afro (yoruba-lucumi, congo, créole). The songs correspond to the styles studied in the dance classes (especially afro-cuban dance), the orchestra and percussion classes. The courses can help towards the improvement of language skills. Percussionists may sing and accompany themselves. Two group classes are offered, one for the Afro-Cuban material, orisha chants, rumba, etc. and the other as preparation for the orchestra (soloists and chorus) Individual singing instruction is also offered in repertoire or improvisation.

Individual lessons – piano, tres, guitar, flute, violin, bass, saxophone, corneta china, trombone, trumpet, bongos, timbales, rumba cajón. For other instruments, please contact us.


Who is Ritmacuba?

Ritmacuba is the name given to the summer program and the website run by ACI Transrythmes, a cultural organization housed in the Université de Paris at Saint-Denis. ACI Transrythmes was founded in the 1980s by a group of students, professors and other staff members of the Université de Paris 8 to carry on the work started by Raul Zequeira, a Cuban musician who moved to Paris in the 1950s and gave courses and workshops at the Université de Paris 8 in the Music Department. It was his vision to organize not just classes in Cuba but cultural immersion trips for percussion students. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could do this but ACI Transrythmes took on the project and organized the first trip in 1989 to Matanzas, Cuba. Daniel Chatelain, author, sound engineer, researcher and member of la Société Française d'Ethnomusicologie gave the program the ritmacuba name. He was elected president of the Association in 1990 and led a unique program combining dance, percussion and capoeira in Brazil. He moved the ritmacuba program to Santiago de Cuba in 1991 and is still using his many years of experience as president and organizer to create an exceptional program of learning and cultural exchange.

The majority of the participants have always been from France, but throughout the years there have also been numerous participants from a large number of other countries including Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Reunion Island, Guadeloupe, Australia, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Norway and others.

Ritmacuba has over 110 videos on YouTube, most of which are from previous ritmacuba summer programs. Be sure to check out their channel: www.youtube.com/user/ritmacuba

They also have photo albums online at picasaweb.google.com/ritmacuba

You can explore their France-based site at www.ritmacuba.com


Ritmacuba's Canadian representative, Joyce Corbett Humbert

It is with great pleasure that I represent Ritmacuba in Canada. Music and dance of various styles and origins have always been an important part of my life. At some point along the way, I became a jazz afficionado, ventured into Latin jazz and ended up exploring Cuban music. That led to a week in Havana for the Jazz Festival in 2004. Since then I have had many other wonderful musical experiences in Cuba. I have been playing congas and studying percussion for several years. There are great teachers of Cuban music and dance outside of Cuba but if you are going to play the music or dance the dances of any country, you must eventually experience it in context, in its country of origin.

In 2008, I was searching the web for percussion courses in Cuba, something more than just a week. I came upon the Ritmacuba website and decided to take the 14-day trip. The experience was everything I had hoped for and more. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people among the participants in the program, teachers, musicians, supporting personnel and more. I returned in 2009, 2011 and every year since and I am really looking forward to this July in Santiago!

Ritmacuba offers a great learning experience and an amazing opportunity to be part of Carnaval! That is truly a blast!

Words from our participants

Just to say “take for sist!” In addition to the music, the lessons, excursions and happenings. I enjoyed so much the tranquility and calm at the terrace and garden at the house where I stayed. What a place to start the day in the quiet of daybreak, and to get your bearings and recover after intense sessions at the Allianza! Ola (percussions - Norway) August 2010

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Cher Ritmacuba, Je voulais que vous sachiez que je suis revenue enchantée de mon stage avec vous. J'y ai fait des rencontres extraordinaires, je suis éblouie par la qualité des professeurs et SURTOUT, de tout le travail de coulisses pour rendre ce stage des plus intéressants car en plus de l'enseignement de qualité, de la bonne bouffe, des liens qui se crées si facilement avec les gens de là-bas, et ce, grace à la synergie, au professionnalisme et la joie de chacun de faire partie de Ritmacuba. C'est ÉNORME ! Je suis vraiment impressionnée par toute la logistique, les bons soins, toutes les activités qui nous plonge dans la culture cubaine et l'encadrement offert. Chapeau ! Merci 1000 fois. Au plaisir de vous revoir tous l'an prochain. Claudie du Québec (danse et percussion 2012)

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It was one of the best Cuba experiences I have ever had, and I enjoyed being with so many like minded people. Frances. Toronto, Canada (dance 2012)

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I have participated in other programs for Cuban percussion and dance. This one clearly communicates what is offered and delivers it. The opportunity to study percussion in the context of an orchestra--to actually apply the skills we're learning--is unique. I would say it distinguishes Ritmacuba from other programs. There is no substitute for actually playing music with other musicians. All our percussion studies aim in this direction, Ritmacuba designs the course content to the level of musicianship of the participants. In educational terms, the material is at our instructional level--neither frustrating nor "independent," i.e., too easy. There is enough of a challenge to make real growth possible in two weeks. There is also strong support, in terms of coaches for each section of the orchestra. Another aspect of this program that impressed me: all the cultural activities were authentic. Every show or activity was in context: local groups, local neighborhoods, real musicians, dancers, singers doing what they do when tourists aren't there. I travel to meet real people, not to see others from a distance. I have often traveled alone, because sometimes it's easier to meet real people this way. But being in this group actually presented more opportunities to connect with Cubans along the lines of common interests: music, dance, appreciation of cultural traditions. Finally, Ritmacuba attracts some incredibly nice people. All of the participants were friendly and supportive--even if we weren't all able to communicate in one language. The common language was joy, wonder, appreciation. Joanne. Oregon, United States (percussion and piano 2012)

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Merci pour toute ton implication sur ce projet de longue haleine !!! Ce voyage était SUPER et les vidéos Géniales !!! Merci encore. Marie Annick, France (danse) août 2013


Singing Yemaya Afrocuban dance class with Drum Group
Salsa class Sitting in with Los Jubilados at Casa de la Trova

© Ritmacuba 2011