The woman leading the beat
In 1994, Neeni discovered the positive impact of African Drumming at a popular Monday night ‘Brackets and Jam’ session on Sydney’s Oxford St.
But this was not Neeni’s first introduction to ‘rhythm’.
A versatile and respected professional, Janine hails from a diverse background of more than 25 years of formal dance training and performance including Jazz, Tap, Ballet, and Contemporary Theatrical recognised and assessed by the Australian Academy of Dance. She also completed specialised training in ZUMBA® and was a practicing Zumba instructor specialising in Zumba Kids, and Zumba Gold, and completed a group exercise instructor course while developing an Afro Tap and Afro Aerobics concept in Sydney. and has studied Marketing, Advertising, and Graphic Design.
Following a trip to Africa in 1994, Neeni returned with her first African drum and studied Traditional West African Drumming and dance under renowned Master & Culture Keeper A. Epizo Bangoura (Guinea, West Africa) for 12 years.
While completing her degree in Social Ecology, Janine bagan teaching African Drumming & Dance with her teacher’s blessing.
In 1998 Neeni founded AFROBEAT and has since instructed individuals and groups in West African drumming and dance technique, facilitated drumming circles and interactive entertainment with diverse audiences, and performed throughout Australia and Indonesia.
A graduate in interpersonal communications, group facilitation, and participatory action research of the ‘Active Learning Organisation’, Janine immediately recognised and identified the connections between African Rhythms and their application to group processes, team building, personal transformation, healing, and community building.
The only female ‘African style’ percussionist to be endorsed by Billy Hydes (Australia’s largest retailer of percussion), she propositioned the Music Store chain to provide her with drums in a rent-to-buy arrangement so that all her students had the opportunity to discover African Drumming without first having to invest in a drum of their own. Neeni also introduced the 'pay-up-front' courses so that African Drumming & Dance classes could be both viable and sustainable, and encourage ongoing student commitment and promote a sense community.
In acknowledgment of Neeni’s contributions, Billy Hydes gifted Neeni the SET of student drums and later sponsored her to study the art of DRUM CIRCLE Facilitation with leading exponent and world renowned 'father of the modern facilitated drum circle movement' - Arthur Hull (California, USA).
‘Over the years, many people have come to realise what an inspiration Neeni is through her commitment and unwavering dedication to her passion - a person who brings others together through drumming & dance’
Christina Dio, Diaspora Media Sydney
A versatile artist, Neeni has performed alongside some of Australia’s most renowned African, Reggae, Samba and Latin Bands. She’s also made a guest appearance on ABC’s ‘Strictly Dancing’, featured on Channel 10’s ‘Totally Wild’ teaching her youth percussion group in Western Sydney, founded an all-girl drum n dance ensemble featuring drum kit, and hosted an audition and trained a Melbourne based doundoun dancing troupe in 2007.
In 2005, Neeni hostied Australia’s first International ‘Master Workshops’ with renowned Master of West African Drumming and dance, attracting the attention of TV, and local journalists.
In 2006, Neeni moved AFROBEAT’S headquarters to Melbourne and launched Corporate AFROBEAT with a 300 drum capacity.
In 2009 Neeni was invited to Indonesia to provide business coaching and mentoring to a newly established African drum & dance business. This led to a 4 year residency in Indonesia where Neeni continued to manage and operate Afrobeat remotely.
In the same year, Neeni launched her pilot Drum Facilitator Training with the PCYC in Queensland's remote town of Doomgee for the purpose of offering an engaging school holiday activity to keep young people creatively occupied and 'out of trouble'.
In 2012 while based in Bali, INDONESIA, Neeni completed Grand Master Mamady Keita’s Mini Guinea Camp and instructed African Dance at Bali Drum Camp hosted by African Drumming.
Neeni has been a pivotal ambassador for African Drumming and Dance in Australia, since 1998, launching Australia’s FIRST African Drumming and Dance website in 2000, and Australia’s FIRST online African Drum Shop.