Most Worldly

The Rhody Center for World Music & Dance


“I grew up always playing some sort of instrument or another,” says Julie Raimondi, executive director of the new Rhody Center for World Music and Dance, which offers lessons in multi- cultural experiences like Bollywood and Stomp dance, and a West African ensemble of music and dance. “An egg slicer and a Smurf guitar were my first two instruments.” She studied music at URI and ethnomusicology at UCLA, playing in Near East and African ensembles, and, she adds offhandedly, “a couple of gamelans.” (Indonesian orchestras, if you’re not up on your musical assemblies.) After college, Julie moved to New Orleans, where the inspiration for the Rhody Center struck. “In New Orleans, perhaps more than in most places, music brings people together on so many different levels,” she says. “I learned about the role of music in the community, and about how music, dance, food and other parts of culture are inseparable.” Now, Julie offers this philosophy to Rhode Island. “I’m proud of my home state; we appreciate art and culture, and we have an amazing and unique multi-cultural make-up,” she says. “But I couldn’t find anything quite like the Rhody Center, where musical and dance traditions can be practiced, learned and celebrated.” Her instructors not only teach dances, but the history and culture tied to them, “so students get an understanding of the social and historical contexts of the art forms they’re learning.” But, Julie insists, you don’t need to have a particular tie to it to try, say, belly dancing. “Music and movement are as natural to us as eating and walking,” she says. “Everyone can do it. Study after study shows the myriad health benefits of participating in music and dance, so really there’s no reason not to try.” 

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