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  Our Teachers    

Osiris Barcenas

Caribbean Dance

Osiris Barcenas Was born and raised in Colombia, settling with her family in Hackensack, New Jersey. President and Cultural art director of ICAL (Instituto de Cultura y Arte Latinoamericano), she joined ICAL as a folklore instructor, where she developed a variety of classes for ICAL's programs, such as Latin dance, folklore for kids, Zumba, and Zumba for Kids.  A professional dancer since she was eighteen years old, Ms. Barcenas has performed at international festivals throughout Europe, Central and South America, and continues to perform at the annual Latin Dance Festival in Bryant Park, in Manhattan. Ms. Barcenas has long been associated with the FolkCOLOMBIA Escuela, presenting educational and cultural programs at the Queens Museum of Art and performing at the FolkCOLOMBIA en el Parque Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, New York. Ms. Barcenas has received numerous awards and local recognition as a community leader and for inspiring local Latin communities to be active and passionate about dance, art, and culture. 

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  Rafael Leal 

Drums and Percussion  


Drummer, Percussionist, Composer, Band Leader, Producer and Educator with 40 years of experience. Since his early years, he has been active in different playing situations such as Concerts, Shows, Recordings, and touring with different artists and bands in Colombia and other countries. During his years in Colombia he used to teach in different Music Schools, Academies, and Universities from Colombia such as Universidad Pedagogica, Universidad EAN and Taller Musical Francisco Cristancho to name a few. In 1998 his first Book named “Como tocar en Batería ritmos internacionales y autoctonos”, authored with drummer Jorge León Pineda was published by Planeta Colombiana Editorial S. A. Since he arrived to New York City he has been working on different projects with different musicians.

Ruben Dario Mejia

Andean Dances


Maestro Ruben Dario Mejia was born in the town of Anserma Caldas. He is a Colombian folklorist dedicated to spreading Colombian dance with an emphasis of the Andean region. He has been a dance teacher, musician and choreographer of Colombian Andean dance, published several articles on pasillo, and led workshops in the academy, an instructed in a wide variety of Colombian dance genres. 

He studied dance in Colombia with masters Julian Bueno Rodrigues and Octavio Marulanda Morales, graduating with a degree in Colombian dance. Since 1982 He founded the dance company and music “Aires de Colombia”, in the city of Manizales. He is a researcher of traditional dances of their region and has won several national awards for dance. In 1994,1997, and 2002,he won the national prize for research on the “Pasillo Colombiano”, in Aguadas, Caldas, Colombia. Ruben lives in New York with his dance partner and wife Paola, and founded “Los Viajeros de la Danza”, a Colombian dance company.

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Nestor Gomez

Caribbean and Pacific coast rhythms

Nestor Gomez is a virtuoso percussionist born in Barranquilla, Colombia. A master of Atlantic coastal drumming, Nestor has played with numerous groups that showcase traditional Colombian music since the early age of 8. Since moving to New York City he has been part of distinguished groups such as Los Macondos de Colombia, Grupo Chonta and Diego Obregon, Folklore Urbano, and Alejandro Zuleta’s Vallenato Collective. He has performed with artists including Arturo Farril, Carlos Vives, Maria Mulata, and Colombian vallenato legends Alfredo Gutierrez and Anibal Velasquez. In addition, he participates in various educational projects that seek to teach both children and adults about traditional Colombian music. He currently leads his own band, “Parada Vallenata,” which is part of the Music Under New York program sponsored by the NYC MTA and his latest project includes experimenting with traditional music and new beats with “Los Cumpleanos.”

  Guest Teaching Artists    
  • Johanna Castañeda - Vocalist/Cuatro player

  • Ronald Polo - Gaita player/Composer/Vocalist

  • Moris Cañate - Master Colombian Percussionist 

  • Erica "Kika" Parra - Colombian and Latin percussion


Jorge Arévalo Mateus Ph.D.

Program Director

Rafael Leal 

Administrator, Academics

Man Playing Drum
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Children Playing Bongo Drums
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