Meet the Tutors

Simeon Smith

Simeon Smith is a native of Dublin, but grew in the western city of Galway. He has achieved a BA is Arts and an MA in Community Development, both from NUIG. In 2006, he achieved a primary qualification as a counsellor in Reality Therapy/Choice Theory. Simeon has been playing samba for almost 15 years, and is a founding member of maSamba Samba School.

Over this period, he has received formal and informal training from many of the top practicioners in the field, and facilitated many top samba artists to visit and teach in Ireland. In this time he has developed a huge musical repertoire, covering many of the popular styles of Afro-Brasilian music.

Simeon has taught for National Universtity of Ireland Galway, University of Limerick, and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, as well as being responsible for setting up over 20 samba bands in Ireland and the UK. Simeon has spent over 4,000 hours teaching samba in his career.

Simeon has developed many of the unique teaching methodologies used by MaSamba Samba School and is regularly asked to deliver workshop programmes with samba bands, music teachers and corporate groups.

As well as performing with MaSamba, Simeon is part of the European touring group of Monobloco and has toured with Dead Can Dance.


Niall Gregory

Niall started his music career around 1990 in Drogheda Ireland. At first playing drumset, then entering the world of percussion by joining Irelands first Samba school. He has performed with and studied extensively with Brazilian master drummer “Dudu Tucci”. He has also made several trips to the Caribbean to study with some of Cuba’s master drummers. While in Cuba he met and studied with members of Clave Guaguanco, Afro Cuba de Mantanzas, Rumberos de Cuba etc.

On his return he has become one of Ireland’s most sought after teachers of Afro Latin percussion. He currently leads his own Latin percussion group “Cachimbo” who have just released there latest album “Si Emi Ilu” (Spirit of the drum) . He has toured internationally with Dead Can Dance and is a member of Sully Erna of Godsmacks solo group . Their first album Avalon made its debut at no 22 in the USA billboard charts and the group have toured the USA and Canada in support of the album.


Graham Dunne

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1974, Graham Dunne is a multi-talented and versatile musician. Until very recently, Graham spent a great number of years living in County Clare and while there, was very much involved in the Irish Traditional music scene, having had the pleasure of accompanying a vast array of wonderfully talented local musicians during that time.

As a professional, Graham began working with Séan Tyrrell for a year back in 1998, before embarking on a career as the main accompanist to acclaimed Irish folk singer, Niamh Parsons, in 1999. Through playing with Niamh, he has been lucky enough to play with and tour with the likes of Andy Irvine, Liz Carroll, Paddy Keenan, Tommy Peoples, Dick Gaughan, Ron Kavana, and Dennis Cahill amongst others. Years of touring have seen Graham perform with Niamh at festivals and concert halls in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Luxembourg, Austria, The Czech Republic, The U.K., The U.S.A., Australia, Canada, and sometimes even in Ireland!

Dunne, however, is a musician of eclectic taste, and his musical explorations have seen him dabble in Jazz, Flamenco and Indian music, even going so far as to study tabla for a time, which he now plays at sessions regularly in Dublin. This eclecticism has led to the accumulation of a vast repertoire of material, from which Graham has performed solo guitar gigs in restaurants and at weddings, and most especially of all in August 2016 at the Dublin Guitar Night in J.J. Smyth’s of Dublin, at the invitation of renowned Dublin Jazz guitarist, Hugh Buckley.

Since the age of sixteen, Graham has been teaching guitar privately, and later on in life at music schools both in Dublin and in Clare. He has also given workshops in France, the U.K. and Italy on the accompaniment and playing of traditional Irish music on guitar. He currently teaches guitar at the Fingal Academy of Music in Malahide, County Dublin. Graham has also taken on an exciting new position as Music Tutor with Masamba Samba School in Kilmainham, Dublin.

In 2012, Graham completed a BSc. in Music, Media and Performance Technology at the Dept. of Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIS) in the University of Limerick, and in 2014, a Master of Arts in Music Technology, also at the University of Limerick. Studying and working with technology has led to a big interest in computer music composition, computer programming, surround sound composition and music production, and has certainly seen Graham spend a little less time with the guitar and more time with the computer, exploring new methods of composition, always aware of the conundrum that is music composition for humans using a machine.

Although generally captivated by the computer as an instrument, Graham still maintains a professional career as a guitarist and as accompanist to long time partner and Irish folk/trad singer of note, Niamh Parsons, while also keeping his hand in with solo fingerstyle jazz guitar arrangements, amongst other things. He has produced and co-produced a number of albums, including their very own and well received ‘Kind Providence’ (2016), and Mark Anthony McGrath’s ‘The Weiss Machine Vol. 1’ (2015). Graham also works casually as an audio engineer, having worked on and produced several exciting demos in the last 18 months. Most recently, Graham has signed up for twelve months of online guitar tuition with top Jazz guitarist, Martin Taylor, MBE, and is currently working on an electroacoustic music collection, due for release sometime this year.


Kelly Baldonado

Kelly Baldonado has formal qualifications in Tourism Studies and Health and Fitness, but began her dancing career at the tender age of 10, performing at small festivals, in theatres, and in school shows. By 16, Kelly was already teaching Afro-Brasilian dance at a gymnasium, where she worked for two years.

In 2005, Kelly re-located to Ireland, primarily to improve her English, and quickly became involved in MaSamba Samba School. Since then, she has participated in three St. Patrick’s Day parades (2 as Queen of the Bateria), as well as numerous TV shows, promotions, and festivals such as the Lord Mayor’s Parade in Belfast, Oxygen, and the Electric Picnic.Kelly has also appeared on ‘Fair City’ and ‘the Tudors’ and has done numerous photo shoots for many of Ireland’s top promotion agencies.Kelly is Dance Director at MaSamba Samba School has performed with us throughout Ireland, the UK and Germany.

Kelly is available to teach samba or zumba classes on request – just contact the office!