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The New World Rhythmatism Ensemble

photo by Glenn Brogan

Joshua and Deborah

...have devoted much of their lives to exploring the arts as vehicles for personal growth, social change, and fostering fellowship, friendship, and community.  They have studied, taught, and performed in a range of contexts and locals in the U.S. and abroad. New World Rhythmatism and Sacred Arts Circles are the fruits of the practice that brought them together and has nurtured their relationship ever since. 

"While walking on an errand eight years ago, I stumbled upon a man and a woman having an intimate conversation.

At first, etiquette demanded that I press on, granting them the privacy they deserved. But then some radiance paralyzed my legs. I could do nothing but stare. Their world of inexplicable synchrony drew me in - with no hope, and no thought, of escape. Then etiquette rescinded and went silent, leaving only a chant in my mind: Holy, Holy, Holy…

After a time, either minutes or days, a sudden applause jolted me back to my own world. I was shocked to find the couple adorned in full performance attire. I couldn’t believe that such intimacy had been achieved at a distance of five feet. On a stage. In front of an audience. None of them had left, either – though I am sure we shared that same initial conflict.

At some point the sun had set, and I realized I was freezing. My feet were numb. My back was sore. My errand was forgotten. My values were transformed.

In the span of one performance, I had become less satisfied with this place I had lived all my life. I had finally visited home, and I needed to go back.

I pointed at the stage and solemnly swore, “I am going to do… THAT.”

Thank you, Josh and Deb. " - Dale Langdon


 Joshua Levin, Ph.D.is a full-time cross-training cultural creative. He is a tenured professor of anthropology at the College of Southern Nevada, an award winning visual artist, professional musician, poet, writer, educator, and happy family guy. With a lifetime of balanced interests in science and art, Joshua has focused his energies on using the creative process as a means to empower healthy and meaningful relationships to self, society, and the environment.  He loves to share and collaborate in these arts of living and has had the good fortune to do so across the U.S. and internationally.  His popular anthropology classes include special topics courses on rhythm, art, and culture.  

Joshua began his professional life exploring issues of identity, education, and change in Native America, Nepal, Mongolia, and Honduras. Over the last fifteen years, he refocused these interests on the application of creative activity to holistic education and personal growth. Essential to this work has been sustained intensive practice in the arts, and extensive involvement in ritual as a social context for collaborative creative engagement.  Joshua has helped to design and facilitate art happenings for more than twenty years, and is most recently a co-creator of Illumination and the Alchemifire Ritual. Both are cutting edge formats for personal/interpersonal exploration and deep play. He served as resident artist with Firedance during its founding four years, as musical director for Fires Rising, and as a regular collaborator and faculty member at the McBride School of Magic. Together with Deborah Levin, he is the co-founder of Sacred Arts Circles and New World Rhythmatism, which are collaborative community based art forms.  

Joshua has performed in a range of musical contexts and configurations from the traditional Middle-Eastern music ensemble Sherefe, to the eclectic Seeds of Time, the contemporary NWR ensemble, The Sweet Ride To Heaven Jubiliation and Wonderment Band, and kirtan accompaniment for Saul David Raye, Steve Ross, Sylvia Nakkach, Wynne Paris, Brenda McMarrow, Adam Bauer, Jim Beckwith, and Jagadeesh. He plays South Asian tabla, doumbek/darbouka, and is an endorsee for Cooperman Framedrums.  His music can be heard on a variety of CDs and DVDs. 

As a
visual artist, Joshua has shown his artwork and painted alongside many of the leading figures in the visionary/fantastic realism art movements. His paintings and sculptures participate in a long history of cross-cultural traditions that engage mythological and visionary consciousness as an integral part of human life and experience. 
Deborah Levin has been pursuing her passion for community music and dance for the past 27 years. Using the arts of music and dance in order to deepen connections both within ourselves and to one another is the key motivator in her work. Fusing movements from Oriental belly dance and American Tribal Style belly dance, she has developed a system of cues and structures to bring the best of these two worlds together into one form. NWR, which she co-created with her husband, Joshua Levin, includes the freedom of the solo dancer in spontaneous relationship to a drummer or drummers while still maintaining the beautiful entrainment of refined group improvisation. Her other creative passion is to nurture and watch things grow such as; Jazz, her 8 year old son, her garden, and her 1st through 3rd grade reading students.
 Paul Billings is a long time Las Vegas resident and local musician. He began musical studies at age 11 in school bands, playing in symphonic and wind ensembles well into his undergraduate studies. In these groups he learned to play clarinet, bass and contra-bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, and percussion. He began learning to play drum kit shortly after graduating from high school, and actively plays with local rock bands today. Paul’s study of Middle Eastern style percussion began in 2001, focusing mainly on the doumbek, but he also plays a variety of other percussion instruments. He is a founding member of the New World Rhythmatism Ensemble.

Matthew Conners (Sushumna) is a northern Illinois native, musician, project manager, jewelry maker, horticulturist, collaborator, philosopher, mystic, friend, father, and all around tinkerer. He plays the enigmatic handpan, as well as the riqq, ghatam, tombak, yambu, and cajon.  He has been with the NWR ensemble since 2004.      

When Matthew is not making music, working, or engaging with his family, he enjoys reading, making things, organizing, hockey, F1, hiking, strategy games, and goofing off with his friends.      

In 1995, he started to practice Bhakti, and Kundalini yoga, and began to frequently participate in kirtans -- group chanting in Sanskrit. "My engagement in chanting kirtans unquestionably activated higher forms of awareness in me. One of those forms was music. I began to internalize it deeply, began to feel it in my bones, deep in my being. I began to tap and play rhythms that I didn't consciously know. Honestly sometimes I felt like I was a puppet, and it was just coming through me. I had no choice, I had to start playing drums!" And through drums an appreciation for World Music evolved, and he began to listen to all kinds of cultural music from around the globe. Some music reached him at deeper transformative levels. "It becomes more than just listening with your ears, but listening with your body, feeling the vibrations, and perceiving with your heart --- truly heartfelt and inspirational music can reveal the inner music we all have inside, and it can take you on a journey of discovery though and to your own Self. Reflecting, the music is important to me because it expressed a variety of complex emotions that were very difficult to put into words. A great song that you connect with, resonate with, in a way becomes like a very close friend. You share a special relationship, and the song can become a part of you, and you a part of it."      

"Music, drumming, and the handpan has taken me on a special journey - as I've met some of my closest friends -- and loved ones that I consider family -- through these artistic vehicles. Some of the most precious and inspiring moments of my life have been because of my connection and engagement in making music. I am so deeply grateful for discovering, growing, and sharing my gifts with the NWR ensemble.  Music has been with me through terrain that I never could have predicted that I'd travel on. It intuitively feels right in every way that I share my inner self and creativity as an offering to the world."

Since 2002, he works by day as an Implementation Project Manager for Elekta, a Swedish medical device company that makes radiation treatment machines and software for cancer therapy.

In 1996, he received a BA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College in Chicago, and studied for a Master's of Psychology at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. He currently lives in Las Vegas NV with his wife Juliet, and children Sara and Jahan.  

   Megan Beers "NWR to me, is a Harvest of sound and movement. We take so much time and effort to cultivate the seeds of our practice into meaningful and thoughtful growth of skill. When it blooms? It's the most beautiful feeling of connected energy and sense of purpose. A cycle in its circular fashion waiting for the next piece to be cultivated with love and respect; to have its chance to grow Into the rhythm."        

Starting with an Anthropology course at CSN 8 years ago, Megan was introduced to the world of NWR music, drum and dance that she still wholeheartedly commits her time and practice to today.  Originally from Long Island, New York, Megan moved to Las Vegas with her family in 2000. She has been dancing and contributing with the NWR Ensemble for 6 years now and continues to fall deeper and deeper in love and always with respect, for the space NWR members take the time; each week, to create, learn and grow within.        

Megan is currently a practicing, licensed massage therapist in the Las Vegas valley, having graduated from CSN in 2009 with an AAS in Deaf Studies and then again in 2010 with her completion of Massage Certification. She has private space for clients at Flawless Wellness Silhouette Spa and is also working for the Canyon Ranch Day Spa at The Venetian on the Strip. "My goal as a massage therapist is to help people recognize their own power and abilities for rehabilitation through facilitated  body work. I hope to exceed your expectations with helping hands and a compassionate heart." 
 Abigail Spinner McBride is a musician, massage therapist and artist, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she helps focalize the Vegas Vortex, a community of artists, wisdom-keepers and seekers of truth and beauty. Abigail is a highly skilled facilitator of fire-circle technology, and the co-author of Universal Fire Circle Alchemy.  Her latest album, The Family of Fire, is a collection of her original music that has been inspired by the fire circles. She spends her time performing magic, belly dancing, singing kirtan and teaching drumming, chanting and movement workshops. She also enjoys gardening, cooking and practicing the art of levitation with her loving husband, magician Jeff McBride.
 Eric Price