Lavaroots Dance and Drum Company
Founded in 2002 on the Big Island of Hawaii, we are a dynamic performing arts company, dedicated to the expression of one’s true self through movement, music and culture. We specialize in West African dance and drumming, passed down from our many Master Teachers. Respect and thanks to Gabriel Fara Tolno, Marietou Camara, Moustapha Bangoura, Naby Bangoura, Yousouff Koumbassa and more.
We are honored to share the healing power of moving to the drum. Through the dance, we build mind-body-soul connection, inner confidence, strength and community, one beat at a time. We often bring teachers and performers to share with our Big Island community, enriching and empowering youth and adults alike! We invite you to join us, either as an audience member or a participant, in the spirit of joy and self-discovery!
We offer classes in West African Dance, Hip Hop, Salsa and Creative Movement. Lavaroots offers school programming, community classes, Master Teacher Dance Workshops, a yearly dance and drum conference, yearly childrens summer program, theatrical performances and dance and music performances for any event.
If you are interested in taking a class or hiring us for an event please contact us.
Michál Anna Carrillo
Executive Director/ Co-Artistic Director/Choreographer
Michal Anna Carrillo has been studying different modalities of dance since she was five years old. As a teenager she danced with Garlutzo Dance Company in Colorado, and was a competitive figure skater for nine years. Michal took her first West African dance class while in college at The University of Washington,
Michal holds a BA from The University of Washington, and first started studying West African dance at that time. She has studied West African dance with a variety of master teachers, many of whom she has hosted on the Big Island of Hawaíi, where she resides.
As founder and director of Lavaroots Performing Arts in 2002, based in Hawaii, she teaches West African dance, Salsa, Hip Hop and Creative Movement, and her company has performed island wide for the past 20 years. As a professional dancer and choreographer, she has performed in many island productions, including resort entertainment for corporate events. In 2008 – 2009 she performed in, directed and produced “Blend”, which performed multiple “full house” shows on the Big Island of Hawaíi. In October 2013 & October 2014, Lavaroots Performing Arts and Fara Tolno presented the dance theatrical work called “Yankady, Here is Good?” at the Kahilu Theatre and Hilo Palace Theatre. Additionally, Kissidugu Foundation and Lavaroots have been hosting the annual Camp Merveilles Hawaii Dance & Drum Conference on the Big Island, since in 2013.
Ms. Carrillo has been a Teaching Artist in schools in the state of Hawaii since 2006, teaching grades K-8, reaching an average of 400 students per year. She is the Director of The Summer Arts program, hosted at Kahilu Theatre for nine years, Waimea Country School partially for six, four years at Hawaii Preparatory Academy and currently at the Lavaroots Living Light Sanctuary. Summer Arts brings performing arts and natural sciences to the youth in an exciting format, culminating in a theatrical presentation.
As the Vice President/Treasurer for the Kissidugu Foundation, Michál spends 2-3 months a year working in Guinea, West Africa where they are building the Kissidugu School of Music, Dance & Education. The Foundation is committed to creating sustainable and equitable opportunities for individuals and communities, through civic dialogue, education, cultural preservation and the perpetuation of Guinean music and dance. Learn more at www.kissidugu.org.
Michál is also a licensed Massage Therapist and has worked in the healing arts for the last 24 years. She fuses healing work and dance together in a unique and compelling way, allowing her students and clients to peel the layers away and reveal the brilliancy within. Empowering children and adults through authentic movement, the spirit of dance, and understanding of self; she shares the joy of music & culture, and encourages others to do the same. Aloha & Wontanara!
Gabriel Fara Tolno
Music Director/ Co- Artistic Director/ Choreographer
.Born in Guinea, West Africa, Fara spent his youth in the village of Kissidugu and Guinea’s capital city, Conakry. He began playing the djembe drum at the age of nine, performing in ensembles at the age of 15, including nine years as the lead drummer for Les Merveilles de Guinea (The Wonders of Guinea) under the tutelage of West Africa’s most influential director and choreographer, Kemoko Sano. This national ballet performed all around Africa and Europe, bringing Fara to the United States to perform in major theatres in 1998.
For the last 24 years Fara has been in the United States sharing his culture, teaching, earning a MFA, and playing with musicians of all kinds. He has founded two different performance ensembles and teaches at numerous colleges and universities as well as teaching community drum and dance classes for students of all levels.
Fara founded Project Drum, which is an organization focused on bringing West African music and dance into schools (and other organizations) by working with students, training teachers and performing in schools. Fara has provided access to the rhythms and dance of Guinea through the Rhythm Reference Project (an online library) and Camp Merveilles, an annual nationwide music and dance conference, both of which he founded.
Fara completed his Master of Fine Arts in dance at the University of Colorado in 2012. He has taken this knowledge and found ways to relate and merge the art forms of dance and music from West African and the Western world. Fara shares this new and innovative perspective when teaching in community and university classes, and training members of his ensemble and companies. Additionally he has created an online school with over 100 rhythms cataloged. Visit his online school and find amazing reference materials at: www.djembe.guru and www.rhythmreference.com
He is the Founder/Executive Director of Kissidugu Foundation and holds annual workshops with international students in Guinea at the Kissidugu School. Learn more at www.kissidugu.org
Fara is one of the most influential African artists of this generation, actively increasing the professional recognition of African Dance in North America. He brings an innovative perspective to African dance and music, steeped in his knowledge of Guinean culture. His energetic and compassionate teaching style makes him one of the most sought after drum and dance instructors in the United States. As a solo artist, Fara has performed with many of the world’s premier musicians including Mamady Keita, Burning Spear, Neil Young, Sekouba Bambino, BB King, Otis Taylor, Joe Cocker, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Habibe Koite, and many more. He has been a member of many different bands and assisted with many musical recording projects and shows throughout the nation. Fara’s performance style has been described as “mystical” as he dazzles audiences around the world.
Jared lights up the stage all year round as Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Technical Director and Stagecraft Teacher extraordinaire!He is the Director of HPA’s Gates Theatre and teacher of Stagecraft & Design. He is the mastermind behind the last 10 years of incredible play sets! He has been working with Lavaroots since 2008. His motto: Life is art, art is life! Live it, love it, be it.
Lead Dancer/ Rehearsal Director 2012-present
Debra, a MN native, moved to the Big Island in 2011 after performing, teaching, and choreographing in NY and the Twin Cities for nearly two decades. She received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College in N.Y.C. There she performed works by Jose Limon, Milton Myers, Jeffrey Holder, Louis Falco, and Lar Lubovich. Debra is a former member of Garth Fagan Dance and performed his works nationally and internationally. Thereafter, she began teaching again and choreographing while training vocally at the Eastman School of Music in NY. Eventually, she returned to MN for a few years where she worked with former Alvin Ailey principal’s company called TU Dance and performed in numerous musicals. Debra’s true love is any and all dance because she can communicate to any culture with this universal language.
Company Dancer 2012-2015
Company Dancer 2021- present
Adrienne Van Berg
Company Dancer 2002-2006
Adrienne Van Berg developed her enthusiasm for dance as a child in New York City while soaking up all the cultural offerings. After moving to Seattle in 1988 at age 12, she began to realize that dance was a passion and not just a hobby. In college she was able to take courses in ballet and jazz to learn technique. After moving to Hawaii in 1999 she began to feel the full expression of dance as she learned Hula. Also that year, she took her first West African dance class and fell in love with the total body movement to the rhythm of the drums. Since then she has been performing with LavaRoots Performing Arts, dancing various ethnic styles including African and Haitian. Adrienne has been married to Michael Van Berg for ten years and is the proud mother of sons, Tristan and River. While motherhood has proven to be a slight detour away from dance, it has also fueled her passion for it giving her new feelings to express through what remains her favorite medium.
Company Dancer 2012- present
Leslie Nugent is inspired by the movement of nature and expression through dance. She has been dancing throughout her life and is honored to study the traditional rhythms, chants, and dances of Hawaii and West Africa. You can find her in the garden, working with the youth, and celebrating the beauty all around.
Company Dancer 2005-2020
Michelle Ayau’s love for dance and expression of movement began as a child when she studied Ballet and Jazz with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She was later drawn to Yoga as an adult and has been practicing and teaching for the past 10 years. Michelle began taking African Dance classes with Michal on the Big Island in 2003, and has been performing with Lavaroots for the past 3 years.
Company Dancer 2012-2020
Jeannie-vie Hernandez Woods has studied theatre, dance, and music through attending Performing Arts schools since she was 11 years old. Through the years performing on stage and film. She continued her higher education in New York at Purchase Conservatory of Arts. Jeannie-vie was introduced to W. African in Seattle, Washington and since then began cultivating her practice. She now lives in N. Kohala, Big Island continuing her studies of music and dance and loves sharing the joy and the soul expression through W. African culture with Michal Carrillo and the Lavaroots Dance Company.
Company Dancer 2012-2018
Ali Caputo at a young age loved to explore movement and trained in gymnastics where she competed up till high school. After high school she moved to Oregon and began studying yoga. It was also at this time that she took her first African dance class and was captivated by its beauty and interwoven rhythms. Since moving to the Big Island in 2009 she deepened her love of dance by taking Haitian and West African classes. She is grateful to have meet Michal who has enriched her experience of dance.
Company Dancer 2012-2018
Krista Joan Donaldson is a lifelong student of dance and performance arts who believes these traditional and modern expressions of the divine feminine will help change the world. Krista Joan is a teacher, sustainability director, and community organizer cheerleading her way around school gardens and keiki surf events. Her favorite body movement takes place in nature with Lava Roots drummers/dancers and ancient West African rhythms. Krista dedicates her performance to ancestors who did not have the freedom or opportunity enjoyed by women today. Welcome to the revolution. You can find her work at www.kristajoan.com.
Company Dancer 2005-2016
Lenita Richmond has been dancing for over 25 years. Her various styles of dance include: Jazz, Broadway, Ballet, Modern, Hip-hop, Caribbean, Haitian and African. She has studied, performed and taught around the world in NY, Chicago, Los Angeles, Japan, New Zealand, and the Caribbean. Lenita has performed with Lava Roots for over 10 years.
Glaucia Ribeiro da Silva
Company Dancer 2006-2014
Glaucia Larson is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. She started dancing ballet at the age of six and later began studying Jazz and Modern Dance. Jazz became her passion and dedication, and thus she started dancing professionally at the age of fourteen. At the age of seventeen Glaucia decided to move to the US to pursue her passion for Dance. Since then she has experienced many different styles and rhythms of dance, making her today a well-diversified dancer. She has been dancing with Lavaroots Performing Arts since 2006.