Beat The Donkey is more than just a band. It is a multicultural, polyphonic, highly creative and entertaining group that takes rhythms beyond their natural frontiers and creates a brand of music too innovative and varied to be labeled.

The ensemble’s name, "Beat The Donkey", comes from the Brazilian expression "Pau Na Mula" meaning "Let’s go, let’s do it!"

There is an undeniable aura of fun and humor whenever Cyro Baptista takes the stage, and this is particularly true with Beat The Donkey. It is a wild, unstoppable and torrid world beat percussive ensemble that blends and beats a bewitching stage stew of untamed percussion, tap dance, martial arts, samba, jazz, rock and funk. They accomplish this by mixing instrumentation from all over the globe and unusual percussion inventions of Cyro’s own creation. The musicians hail from all over the world, wear wild, elaborate costumes and frequently leave their instruments to break into spontaneous dance, making the group fascinating to watch as well as listen to.

Cyro has always rejected rigid classifications in terms of instrumentation and compositional approach. With Beat The Donkey he gives free reign to his imagination, mixing instruments from Brazil, U.S., Indonesia and Africa with his own instruments. It is mysterious, spellbinding, infectious, irresistible dance music. Cyro himself roams the stage, conducting his troupe with fiendish glee, keeping the audience's attention captive for the whole show.

The amazing thing about Beat The Donkey is the unending variations; you could listen to them all night and still want to hear more.


Beat The Donkey CD



Watch Beat The Donkey Perform on WGBH's "La Plaza"
View video of Beat The Donkey from Emmy Award Winning PBS Documentary.
Requires QuickTime 6

"La Plaza" Highlights
"La Plaza" 30-sec. Spot
Download QuickTime


Learn About Cyro's Instruments



There was sword dancing, acrobatic stunts, carnival costumes, and through it all, some of the most innovative percussion I've ever seen. Thank goodness for musicians who have the courage to really get out there and try to do something completely different.”

–Leigh Buckley Fountain, Richmond Times Dispatch

“Definitely one of a kind.”
–Michael Clark, Houston Chronicle

“Cyro follows an eclectic muse that helps him balance compositional sophistication with bedrock propulsion.”
-New Yorker Magazine

“Performance art for marvelously visceral music, utterly unique: needs to be seen live with so many percussive traditions, BEAT THE DONKEY is maybe a stew, a goulash, a gumbo, paella or stir fry, but it sure is delicious! “
-A.H., All About Jazz

“BEAT THE DONKEY BEAT is a product of unbridled imagination, intense musical knowledge, skill and a lust for sheer joy, fusing Brazilian styles with jazz, funk, rock and reggae to a point where unique, genre-less music is made”
-Benji Feldman, Relix Magazine

“This band has an entertainment jones, and the energy of their attack has a free-for-all physicality that keeps a smile on your face.”
-Jim Macnie, Village Voice, New York

“An assemblage of musicians and dancers in outrageous costumes, banging on drums for all they’re worth—Mr. Baptista’s band is Brazilian carnival crossed with Lower East Side performance art. It makes a ruckus, and it’s wild, vivid entertainment.” BEAT THE DONKEY had showmanship and timing to match its globe-hopping rhythm.
-Jon Pareles, New York Times

-Kevin Martin, Jammed Online

“Beat the Donkey expresses the physicality of music. It is a thunderous, theatrical, multicultural ensemble accompanied by dancers who have the enthusiasm of martial arts students.”
–Jeff Spevak, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Beat The Donkey embrace humor as a form of communication, and break into spontaneous celebration on a whim. Having worked for so long with a diverse range of musicians, Baptista has honed his skills and does well as a leader; inspiring, but also showcasing the individual talents of the ensemble.
-Philip Songa, All About Jazz

”Baptista and his eight-piece drum and dance ensemble, Beat the Donkey, transform hundreds of cultures into one streamlined vision: you will dance your ass off like yesterday was a dream, tonight is everything and tomorrow doesn’t matter at all. And that’s what makes great improvisational music: energy matched with timeless innovation.”
-Randy Ray, Homegrown Music


::: Beat The Donkey at the SINES FESTIVAL in Portugal :::



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