Kizomba is...

"An embrace means I don't feel threatened by you, I'm not afraid to be this close, I can relax, feel at home, feel protected and in the presence of someone who understands me. It is said that each time we embrace someone warmly, we gain an extra day of life."

A quote from Paul Coelho (one of my favorite authors) that describes for me what dancing kizomba is like.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kizomba Walk

I'm not able to dance much while I'm helping my folks out so I might as well write  ...

One of the first things I remember hearing when I first started learning kizomba was "just walk". Kizomba is a walking dance - relaxed, meandering, like you're walking and dragging your feet on the sand.

This description has stuck with me until this past year, after learning more about the dance and dancing with the different instructors and artists I've had the privilege of working with and learning from, there is more to this walk than meets the eye.

Just take a moment when you're seated by the window in a cafe and look at how people walk. We each hold within our bodies, things that have influenced our movement and it is reflected in the way we walk. Every step we take contains a clue to an influence on how our body moves. For example, someone who has a strong military influence may walk like a march. A ballet dancer may carry herself (or himself) a very specific way because of they way she (or he) has been conditioned to dance. Some people walk like penguins. Some people waddle like ducks. Some people walk with this bounce and swagger and so on.

So when someone says - just walk. It a loaded statement. When instructors say "just walk", they really mean "just walk like me" or in the case of kizomba "just walk like an African".

I felt it before I could see it: that sticky, grounded walk that goes so well with the base rhythm of kizomba. I couldn't quite put my finger on how to teach it, so I focused on grounding the walk. THIS I'm good at. Even from an early age, I loved to drag my feet and I would end up tripping over small bumps on a floor's surface. I describe the walk as languid but it should be like the step you take when you're lifting yourself up a flight of stairs - except you're not actually going up.

Confused? So try paying attention to what you do when you climb up stairs. First of all, you have to bend your knees and then you exert pressure on the foot as you lift yourself up to the next step. You don't lock your knees, you keep them relaxed and then do the same with the next foot on the next step.

Now imagine that you're NOT climbing, but instead, you're feet are heavy, like lead and you need to move them to walk. You would have to bend your knee before you can engage it to step and when you did move you're leg, the impact on the floor would be "heavy" and then your foot would stay longer on the floor before the next step because it was so heavy.

So there's the preparation - bending the knee, allowing your waist to stretch so that your shoulders are still level and your torso does not bend forward (or backward). Then as you lift and place that foot firmly on the ground, there's an edge to the initial impact and then your feet stay in contact with the floor as long as possible (like there's glue), weight on the front half of the foot and as you start to straighten that leg you never lock your knees as you shift all your weight over to that leg. Now the next leg is ready to take a step.

That's the best I can manage to describe the walk that has an edgy gooey yet grounded feel. When mastered, the movement is smooth and continuos so that the energy that you push down into the ground, returns up through the body in a wonderful wave - that's what I believe is sometimes referred to as "ginga".




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Welcome December!

So we ended November with a BANG!

Following a stellar weekend of dancing at the Kizomba Seattle Exchange, the Seattle Salsa Congress had a dedicated Kizomba room (who-hoo!) and it also featured the debut of an original song "Body Language" from one of our very own Israel West (applause please).

Now we're in December and heading towards the end of 2013.
  • Cellar's is open again for Monday night Kizomba / Salsa / Bachata mix with DJ Nick. Don't forget Monday practice nights are still going on at the Centennial Towers.
  • Kizomba Seattle Meetup is now open for business for people that don't deal with facebook well and just want email notifications. Watch for a special event (Dinner and Dancing) that we'll be posting about soon. 
  • December 6th is First Friday Kizomba night at West Hall with Dennis Richards teaching the drop in lesson and Mary Lyons spinning your tunes. Come and dance kizomba all night long. AND watch for a special event (Dinner and Dancing) that we'll be posting about soon. 
  • Ring in the New Year with a Salsa/Kizomba dance hosted by TAM TAM Productions at Salsa N Seattle. 
Looking ahead to 2014, we've got a few things planned:
  • Frances and Jay will be at the Latin Dance Festival in Reno to teach Kizomba - come and join us if you can. The schedule is still being finalized but there will be lost of kizomba dancing at night along with great lineup of salsa and bachata instructors. 
  • Frances will be teaching a Kizomba Bootcamp at Salsa Con Todo on January 18-19, 2014
  • Kizomba 2 will be starting up again at the Century Ballroom, check their website for details sometime in the second or third week in December. 
  • In February 2014 Century Ballroom will be starting a second night of Kizomba on the third Fridays (whohoo!) it will be from 1100 pm to 2:00 am - stay tuned for more detail as it gets closer. 
  • Another Kizomba Seattle Exchange (date TBD)
  • Visits by some old friends and new ones perhaps some local weekend events and who knows what else? If you want to help out, have an idea or lead, please contact me by using kizombaseattle@gmail.com.
In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season. HUGS and keep on spreading the kizomba love. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memorable Moments: Kizomba Seattle Exchange

Its been almost a week since the Kizomba Seattle Exchange and I am still enjoying moments I remember from the exchange and processing some learning and observations from the weekend. As I posted on one of my facebook updates, most of the time, weekends like this one leave a void within me because all this concentrated and fun activity is suddenly gone. This time however, perhaps its because this event focused on celebrating the Kizomba Seattle community, I am left with a sense of warmth and security, much like the feeling I have when I'm in a kizomba embrace.

Kizomba is growing. There are all sorts of events popping up in the US and we are beginning to see how much there is out there in Europe to participate in. Its easy to keep looking elsewhere for the next kizomba kick. What I wanted to do was focus on what we have here at home and perhaps plant a seed that other communities can celebrate the same way we did. Its not always about the next big festival (that's great too, don't get me wrong - its builds a different sense of community and allows access to instructors that you might not normally get a chance to learn from). Sometimes, its just about the people you have around you: dancers, studio owners, instructors and anyone else that's excited to be part of kizomba.

Here's what I observed through out the weekend, not in any particular order of importance:

Dancing a LOT makes a BIG difference, even for people that just learned the basic steps.
One of the things I loved about this weekend was the fact that there were people who participated with just an hour of kizomba experience, totally new to kizomba. What a pleasure to see that armed with simple basic steps they were able to enjoy the weekend and dance and improve. All of them came to at least one dance and most of them attended three or more of the seven dances and that made a difference in how they were dancing by the end of the weekend. Hurrah! I'm so happy and excited - it just proves what I already know: it doesn't take a lot to get started and fall in love with this dance.

Collective Dance Musicality
There is what I refer to as the collective dance musicality. Its that general flow on the dance floor and it best seen from the DJ booth or someplace apart from the dancing crowd. What I see when the dancers are in tune with the music, is that despite the different moves that are being danced, the general flow and energy in the room matches and moves together with the music. If the song is high energy and peppy, that is reflected in the quality of the movement on the dance floor and the collective of dancers. When we first started having kizomba dances, it was so new that the collective dancing on the floor looked a bit chaotic. This weekend it was a pleasure to see the collective dance musicality more aligned with the music. There were exceptions of course, we have a Zouk community that moves very differently to the dance than kizomba dancers do and there were some people that were so caught up in the expression of their movement that they sometimes didn't match the collective. All good things. The point is that there is less chaos and more fluidity and flow matching the music that plays - its pretty freakin' cool to see.

Great Music Inspires Great Dancing
I am not a DJ at heart. I don't have that music geek factor that makes me want to layout the canvas for dancers to dance on. I just want to dance. I do know that the quality of music makes a big difference and for any dance, being able to put down the right songs with enough variety to make it interesting and fun is not an easy task. I am amazed by the canvas laid out by the DJs from the weekend and am so thankful that we were able to invite a few from out of Seattle. Our local DJs were pivotal to getting the dances started so they laid the foundation for what Seattle dancers dance to. It was quite a treat to also experience the music that DJs outside of Seattle weave together. We all have different tastes and preferences but from what I saw of the dancing, it was like being led by the Pied Piper - you can't help but dance when you hear it.

Generosity and Community
I love my Kizomba family in Seattle and this weekend brought out so many of the qualities that make me feel so lucky to be part of it. They helped and welcomed folks from outside Seattle and total newbies. I've been to places where as a new person, its quite hard to get a dance and feel like part of the dance collective. I was so pleased to see everyone dancing with everyone. Some folks opened up their homes to host visitors, some offered their time to help with the event organization and logistics, some people donated their resources to add to the weekend. Everyone came out to dance and there were more people than I expeced with new ones getting hooked as the weekend progressed.

Beyond Expectaiions
80 people at the opening dance! That's the biggest turnout evern for a dance here in Seattle AND there were still a few people that were out of town or couldn't make it. When I put this weekend together I had no idea what to expect, just a lot of hope that there would be people to dance with for 20 hours. Instead, all the good will, good music, good dancing and great energy more than exceeded anything I could have imagined. It was what I was hoping for but didn't realy know could be acheived. Booyah!

Monday, November 4, 2013

November is here and so is the Exchange!!!

We had our November Social on November 1st, ushering the eleventh month of the year and realized that this dance has been going on since 2011. What's exciting is that the attendance has grown to the point where we've been able to hold two dances a month and still sustain the level of attendance. That means growth which means more kizomba dancers.

I just got back from Nicaragua and had the privilege of teaching at their Salsa Congress, performing alongside some internationally reknowne salsa and bachata artists. What a trip! So intimidating and exciting and gratifying all at once. (Read more here and see some pictures here.) Not to mention all those hungry mosquitos that fed off my newbie blood! All for a good cause.

I'm excited for the Kizomba Seattle Exchange and hope that the weekend will bring out even more dancers to share in the kizomba love. Registrations are starting to come in and I am finalizing the details about the dance.

November also heralds Thanksgiving and the Seattle Salsa Congress while will also have kizomba for the second year in a row. This time Ivo and Shani (from LA) will be back and Isaias will be providing the music for bachata and kizomba so there will be much more kizomba to dance to this year compared to last year.

Kizomba Fundamentals is at the halfway point this week and already the folks in class have come out to dance (hurrah!). We'll be taking a hiatus from a class series for Kizomba after Thanksgiving and picking it up again in 2014.

I'm sure there will be more news to share here and there but in the meantime, stay warm as the winter chill starts to come into the air and always - happy dancing!

Monday, October 14, 2013

October ... Fall into Kizomba

Its time for the changing seasons from summer's warm, sunny days to cool, crisp one's of the fall. The leaves are already starting to change and we're still experiencing a few Indian summers.

I had the pleasure of teaching kizomba at the Seattle Fusion Festival. It was great fun to show this dance to a different dance community and even hear some immediate feedback about how the groundedness of kizomba's walk can help to improve anyone's dance. If you're even remotely curious about what Fusion is - check out the Seattle Fusion Experiment and the dances they have at Om Culture Studio every Sunday evening. 

In the meantime - here's what's up in Seattle for the short term:
  • Monday Practica's continue: make sure to check facebook and the event page for the latest information.
  • Monday night at Cellar's with DJ Nick playing Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba
  • Kizomba 2 series just concluded last week and we'll be starting a Kizomba Fundamentals Series on October 23 (Wednesday nights from 7:00pm - 8:00pm)
  • Kizomba Body Movement (Individual exercises and partner work) will be taught on Thursday October 17, 2013 from 7pm to 8pm at the Century Ballroom. 
I'm excited to be going to Nicaragua in 4 days with a few of our crew to share Kizomba at their salsa congress (who-hoo!). There are also a few folks headed to the Tri-Cities this weekend as well as to San Francisco for their festival at the end of October.

November brings some exciting events as well:
I hope I haven't missed anything - if I have please let me know and I'll make the corrections.
In the meantime - HUGS! and happy dancing. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Congratulations and Upcoming Events

Our Kizomba Community is still growing and one of the best things about that is the fact that because our numbers are smaller, we can get to know each other better.

I wanted to take a few minutes to celebrate the birth of Dennis' and Oriel's lovely little girl Suletu. She's a few days early and loved and welcomed all the same. Congrats!!

I'm excited to meet her in person - she's really going to be a spoiled kid in our community.


UPCOMING HAPPENINGS:
We just turned the corner on a new month and another well attended Kizomba Social on Friday Sept. 6,. 2013. What's next?

Monday Night Practice is building up its own momentum (hooray!) If you're interested in practicing with a small group, make sure that you check out the facebook event on the Kizomba Seattle facebook page.

Cellar's on Monday nights plays a mix of salsa, bachata and kizomba.

Kizomba 2 Class Series is starting at the Century Ballroom Thursdays 9/12/13 to 10/10/13. Check it out and register through www.centuryballroom.com. This series is on Thursdays 8:30 - 9:30 in West Hall at the Century Ballroom.

Kizomba Dance at the Century Ballroom on Sept. 21, 2013: We get another all night kizomba dance this month! For those of you that love to salsa too, this is the same weekend as the All Vinyl Salsa Night and its going to be a blast!! Our very own Isaias Chammoro will be providing the music and he'll be putting in a little bit of bachata to the mix.

Kizomba is also being taught at Salsa Con Todo Studios - please check out their website for more information. They also have a Friday Night social that plays kizomba in the mix with other music.

Jay Senior and Frances Tee will be teaching Kizomba at the Seattle Fusion Festival coming up from October 5 - 6, 2013. We're so excited. And on top of that, we'll be heading off to Nicaragua to teach kizomba at the Nicaragua Salsa Festival thanks to Isaias Chammoro for extending the invitation and giving us a chance to help spread the kizomba love outside the US.

SAVE THE DATE: The big event is our first ever Kizomba Seattle Exchange with 3 days of dancing. Oscar BA and DJ Guelas will be joining us along with other local DJ's at several local venues, Check out the page for the latest news. Registration will be up on the site by September.

Lots to look forward to ...
HUGS and Happy dancing as always !

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dance Musings: Listening and Following

I didn't want the blog to be just about events and activities so I'm starting to share some kizomba dance related musings based on what I've learned, what I've been asked, what people talk about, basically anything dance related.

FOLLOWING:
I'm often asked to teach follows how to be great follows and to define the skills that are needed in order to participate in this dance and contribute to its buttery, smooth silkiness.

There is no one set formula that I can give.

I believe that to dance well, independent of the role we take as a lead or follow,  we must each discover two key things. The first is how we move: what our own abilities are to make our body move and  how we express what we feel through movements. The second is how we listen and respond to music. For follows, this is tied to how well we listen and respond to the leads we dance with. For leads, the equivalent would be how to communicate movement to follows and then how to listen to their response and use it in the dance.

It is also important to embrace our individuality and how we are all different. I love this aspect of social dancing: that we each can express our individuality as part of a partnership. Whether you dance alone to music or with another dance partner, the possibilities and outcomes of a dance can be limitless. When you start to own your own dancing and expression, what you bring to every dance is a unique opportunity for a wonderful connection. The reason I love kizomba so much is that the barrier to experiencing that sweet spot in connection is relatively easy to overcome as a new dancer, as long as you're not afraid of getting close to someone.

So while I can give you things you can work on and suggest ways to improve your skills and listening as a follow, the bottom line is that you need to take responsibility for your own movements, then embrace your individuality and celebrate the partnership while you're dancing withe someone.

For those of you that like check lists, here goes:
  • How do I move? Get to know your body and how it moves. What does it mean to stay balanced? Improve and get to know you range of motion: should, hips, chest, arms, legs, etc. What does it take to move with control and balance? Can I isolate my movements? Can I make them sharp, soft, etc.? Can I stop? What's my best pose? These are just a few questions to answer. 
  • How do I Listen? Partner dancing as a follow involves understanding how to communicate with your lead in the context of the dance. What is my lead telling me withe movements I feel? What am I paying attention to? How do I use physical touch and what I feel when my partner moves to understand what I need to do: when to step and where? 
  • How do I Translate? How do I take what my lead is telling me and translate that to movement? How can I tell him what I've heard?
  • How do I Respond? I've heard what my lead has said and translated the movements, now how can I tell my lead that I've heard what he has to say and finish the movement with my own voice.
I'll elaborate on each point in future posts - else this post might become a little novelette.

When all is said and done, I recommend that you relax, breathe, enter every dance as an new opportunity to connect and then let go of the outcome. Assuming you know and are learning the basic language of the dance, then trust yourself and your partner and when you give in to the dance and listen and respond, the results will be beautiful (independent of being perfect). If not, the dance is only a few minutes long, there will always be another dance to make things better.

... and even if you don't know the basic language of the dance, if you want to enjoy your dance and are open to listening and responding that makes all the difference.

August Fun!

Well, its August already and I don't know about you but I have no idea where July went!

Jay and I just wrapped up a Kizomba 2 series at the Century Ballroom and Dennis Richards and I will be starting a four week Kizomba Fundamentals series on Thursday 8/8 from 7:30 pm to 8:45 pm. You can still register at www.centuryballroom.com or stop by on Thursday and join the class.

We also just finished teaching the Kizomba Flash Mob Choreography at the Century Ballroom this past Friday August 2. Here's a sneak peek as the class did a practice run to wrap up.

If you want to learn the choreography there's another chance to do that this weekend AND take part in the next Kizomba Flash Mob the following day!

Saturday August 10 - Kizomba Flash Mob Choreography at Belltown Dance Studio.
Sunday August 11 - FLASH MOB!!!! Join us outside at Pier 59. Details can be found on the facebook event. Don't forget to join the Kizomba Seattle Flash Mob group where you can find more about the flash mob, see the choreography and breakdown and find out about future mobs.

We had such an awesome turn out for the Kizomba First Friday Dance this past August 2 too! Lots of new dancers and veterans returning to dance. What a lovely night with Maurycy Markowski providing wonderful music for us all the dance to.

In less than 2 weeks we get to welcome Albir Rojas and Sara Lopez back to Seattle for a full weekend of workshops and dancing! Registration for the workshops on August 17-18, 2013 are up on the Century Ballroom website. The pre-registration price is a bargain for a whole weekend of instruction and a bonus hip hop class from Albir. I know how lovely the summer has been, just think how much more fun it will be to spend a whole weekend doing kizomba.

There's a lot coming up in the next two weeks! Don't let August blow by without enjoying at least one if not all these lovely opportunities to dance.

HUGS

Friday, June 28, 2013

Come out and Dance! Friday 6/28/13 and Saturday 6/29/13

Its looking like another great weekend, Seattle!

To celebrate, come out and dance tonight, Friday 6/28 at Salsa N Seattle for Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba (SBK) night. There's a beginner kizomba lesson at 9:30pm taught by Frances Tee and Dennis Richards. DJ Nick will be spinning bachata/kizomba while DJ Yambu plays some salsa.

Then, on Saturday, 6/29, its the first Salsa on Alki where there will be some kizomba in the mix for the last half hour of the dance.

COMING UP:

  • July 5 - First Friday Kizomba Dance at East Hall - Dennis Richards will be teaching the beginner drop-in and Maurycy will be spinning for the evening. 
  • July 12 to 13 - Kizomba Weekend with Gosia: Socials and workshops so you can dance all three days of the weekend (yes, I'm including Friday as the weekend). 
  • July 14 - Frances and Jay teach at Om Fusion
  • Aug 2 - Kizomba Flash Mob Choreography Workshops at the Century Ballroom
  • Aug 10 - Kizomba Flash Mob Choreography Workshops at Belltown Dance Studio
  • Aug 17-18 Albir and Sara are back (details coming)

Friday, June 7, 2013

All Quiet on the Western Front?

I know, its been a little quiet after mobbing Westlake but I have a good excuse - a birthday to celebrate.

Don't forget to stop by to dance kizomba all night long at the First Friday Kizomba Dance tonight (June 7) at the Century Ballroom (East Hall). Dennis Richards will be teaching the beginner drop-in lesson from 9-10pm and then dancing starts at 10:00pm to 1:00am.

After that, if you still want more kizomba, head over to SalsaNSeattle for a mix of Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba or, head over to Salsa Con Todo for their Dark Set which includes some kizomba.

See you out dancing tonight!


COMING UP


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yeah!

Way to go mob folks! You guys rocked it and we did our first kizomba mob in Seattle today!

I wish I had thought of a live broadcast but this is close enough.

Thanks again for all the help:
Jay - who helped put the choreo together with me and teach it to our group.
Skye - who helped to scope out potential locations
Chanya - (we missed you!) who helped with speakers and general coraling of people
Israel - for being our DJ and speaker master
Maurycy - for being our photographer
Chris and Gin - for hosting practice the night before


To all the folks that came in support and cheered us on - you rock :)
Congrats to everyone for a lovely and fun time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mob Time Yo!

After several months and three reschedules, we're finally here - time for a kizomba flash mob in Seattle.

There's still time to join so if you're at all interested, here's what you need to know:

Check out the choreography by requesting to join the flash mob group.

Friday 5/17 practice from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm to learn flash mob choreography: Detail on facebook

Saturday 5/18 mob time at Westlake Center (outside in the open area in front of Sephora, across from the Starbuck's on 4th and Pine Street from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. (Details on facebook)

Logistics:
Plan to get to Westlake by 12:30pm
Wear your Kizomba Seattle (or black) t-shirt under something
When you hear the music, take the shirt off, find a partner and gather with the group.
Dance!
When the choreo is done, we disperse and the music fades.

That's it! Let's all gather to take a picture (just because).

If you can't make it to this one, I'm sure we'll have another which you can initiate or work with someone else to ;).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kizomba and Spring

Springtime always makes me think of cherry blossoms and haikus.

I think its because when I was growing up, I loved reading manga and had crushes on some of the characters I read about and there was always something special about springtime and cherry blossoms.

All the cherry blossoms and wonderful weather in Seattle has inspired a kizomba haiku:

We walk relaxed, slow
Together we dance as one
A sweet close embrace

The adage "less is more" are words that resonate strongly with me so its no surprise to me that kizomba is a dance that resonates just as strongly with me. These same words can be applied to make kizomba hit that sweet spot every time you dance.

You know how there's a running joke with that other dance-aerobic (and NOT partner dance) form called zumba? Well, I tell people to think of the chant "ohm" while meditating - this dance is so chill its like meditating: so, its "kiz-ohm-ba".

As I continue to learn and teach this dance, I realize how much we relearn movements that our bodies would normally do when relaxed. It has taught me a lot about how my body works and how it works when dancing with someone else. I am constantly learning about what years of outside influences have done to make me (and others) forget what comes naturally.

This dance has a beautiful simplicity that many mistakenly view as easy. Walking with a relaxed stance, in close contact to someone, moving as one, is never quite as simple as it sounds.

Simple and relaxed, that's the key to achieve that kiz"ohm"ba moment.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Springing into May

It looks like spring is finally here in Seattle (hurrah!).

Last weekend we had the pleasure of welcoming Iris DeBrito to Seattle for a weekend of kizomba. It was fantastic (I wish I could say that in a british accent). I am grateful for the circumstances and people that have enabled me to bring these wonderful instructors from all over the world to Seattle. Each instructor has come to share their passion and knowledge and has helped us all to grow as dancers.    Iris is no exception. Her grace, humor and passion for the dance is infectious and that alone affects how we view the dance and how we dance it.  Thank you Iris for sharing your love and  knowledge of kizomba with our family here in Seattle.

Electron Microscope: Synapses Firing

Each time I learn from someone, my eyes open up just a little more. Its as if the synapses in my brain get fired up and new pathways of understanding appear like magic. [Photo credit: Jeremy's Ridge] Its like progressing through a video game as more and more doors are opened on your search for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

For myself, Iris showed me the opportunities in the dance that allow me to express myself within a close embrace with my dance partner so that I'm not just following but also lending my voice to the dance without interrupting my lead.  Its exhilarating: there is so much to explore now with this new angle to consider. 

She talked about sharpness to the movements and light and darkness to give texture to the dance. I know if I had been told this last year, I would not have been able to really appreciate what she said. I am excited to try out some new things and see where it takes me. 

Thanks again to everyone that came to learn and dance and participate this weekend. We had a great mix of new and old faces and its wonderful to see our family growing and developing as kizomba continues to grab hold of people's hearts. 

NEXT UP: Mafalda will be visiting Seattle again in less than 2 weeks! Check out the details here.

Saturday's Crew
Sunday's Crew

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dreaming Does Get You Places

When I first fell in love with kizomba, I thought up this hair brained scheme that was much like a Lindy Hop Camp experience that changed my life.

This past weekend, my dream just came true and the reality far exceeded whatever I could dream up. It was perfect: the people, the teachers, the energy, my learning and growth and so much I can't even express it well. I can only share my thanks and let things simmer and unfold over time.


This picture barely touches the surface of what I experienced this weekend and its missing some people that had to leave, but it does convey some of what happened as well as show you the faces of some of the people that were a part of Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp 2013.

Many thanks have already gone around and the warmth from the weekend still emanates from the various post and pictures that are being shared as the week unfolds.

I know the weekend wasn't perfect for everyone but I think everyone was able to get something out of it, at the very least some new friendships and lasting memories.

So, here, very briefly are my thanks: 

To the teachers that came and took a chance on my crazy idea, embraced it and joined forces to make an incredible team: Oscar, Eddy and Riquita, much thanks and love - you have impacted so many people this weekend, I am so happy to be a part of that.

To my volunteer team and hosts who opened their homes and gave their time and energy to making the weekend a success, thank you for making my dream run so smoothly.

To my Seattle (and neighboring cities) Kizomba family and friends, you are as always an incredible group! Everyone that comes here loves their stay because of who you are and how welcoming everyone is. Thank you for keeping our spirit like a family with so much welcoming warmth.

To my new kizomba family from all over the US, I am so lucky that you decided to come and be a part of this weekend. Now I have faces to names and more connections and fun to be had because I know we will see each other again sometime soon!

Here's the link to the photos from the weekend. Check it periodically throughout the week, I'll be updating a little at a time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One More Day til Camp and Updates to Weekly Events

Here we go, one more day till Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp kicks off! Instructors will be in Seattle by tomorrow (Thursday) and the opening dance will be in the Main Ballroom of the Century Ballroom on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 9:30pm. See you there!

Read the latest news on the Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp blog.

UPDATES on Weekly Events:Monday night Salsa/Kizomba/Bachata with DJ Nick will now be at Cellar's on 2132 1st Ave. in Belltown from 9:30 pm to 2:00 am (No Cover).

UPDATES on Workshops: 
Mafalda will be back in Seattle with DJ Raul Adon on May 8th (details here). Registration will be available soon through the Century Ballroom.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Some Changes in Weekly Socials

A quick announcement to let folks know about some changes:

Monday at Limelight: Limelight is changing ownership and the last social dance will be on Saturday, March 16, 2013. This means there will no longer be salsa/bachata/kizomba playing on Monday nights. SeattleLatin Dance (Becka and Nick) are looking for a new home for that night so please stay tuned.

Tuesday Kizomba Practice: Practices are still being held at the Belltown Ballet and Conditioning Studio from 9:30 - 11:30. New venues are being reviewed and researched so that the practice can start earlier. In the meantime, please continue to support this weekly practice and come and work on what you learned in class or just to dance.

On another note... Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp is only 7 days away - whohoo!

Right now we have a total of 56 registrations. There are still some spots left - please check the Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp site for more details and the latest on schedules.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Back from Another Stellar Kizomba Weekend

Usually coming back from a weekend festival leaves a void - I go through festival withdrawal, especially when its was a FANTASTIC one. This time though, its not so bad because I know that in another two weeks, I'll be a part of another stupendous weekend: 3 nights of dancing, 2 days of workshops with 3 great instructors (Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp March 22 - 24, 2013).

The 4th and final Vancouver International SalsaFestival (VIS) was memorable in so many ways - not the least of which is that fact that there was a full day kizomba track with Kwenda Lima, Albir and Sara as instructors, a dedicated bachata/kizomba room for most of the weekend and a kizomba only room on the last night. I spent most of my time in the kizomba room and though I felt like I was cheating a bit on my salsa love, it was well worth it.

We're on the crest of a growing kizomba wave and I'm so thankful to be a part of it and to influence what I can here in the Seattle and where ever else that ripples through to. This time last year, I was starting by bringing Joao and Mafalda to Seattle. At the time I was surprised by the number of people that came to attend that workshop in March 2012. This weekend was epic, and the beginning of more epic-ness through till now.

I also have to give a shout out to Kizomba Seattle crew (not just the crew from Seattle but also the Vancouver family that was there with us from the start). So cool to see how we all shared our love of the dance - its what makes this dance so lovable. I'd also like to brag about how our guys had receiving lines and little groupies, such a hit! I get to dance with these leads all the time :) Ladies, you were well sought after as well. Go Kizomba Seattle!

We are all still growing and learning together which is what makes this such a great ride. Kizomba bring us all closer - literally and figuratively - to dance, to music and to each other. To walk closely within another's embrace is not as simple as it looks and it is as wonderful as you can imagine when its danced well. The steps are simple, no complicated patterns, requiring that you stay grounded and connected to the floor. As you walk together, you are both balanced, relaxed and listening to each other's movements. When you finally relax into the movement, the simplicity of the steps allows you to focus on the music and let it lead you.

People sometimes think that they need to memorize patterns. In kizomba it is more important to learn how to move and flow with the music. As a lead, to imagine how your body can communicate to your follow, the moves that you imagine from the music. As a follow, to listen to your lead's movements and move as one.

This idea of flowing with the music is really no different from any other social dance that I know. Usually techniques and step patterns get in the way of listening and mapping movement to music. What is unique with kizomba is the simplicity of the steps: it allows you the brain space to listen to the music earlier in your learning. The music also has a base pulse that feels so natural, like a heart beat. The dance brings two people close which can be intimidating at first but if you relax and give in to the flow of each other's steps, it will feel smooth and natural (just like that pulse).

Kizomba also has a way of opening you up as a dancer because of how grounded you have to be in your movement. In order to flow and move with another, you have to know your own natural movement and expression and be able to sense this in the person you're dancing with. I've always spoken about the zen of kizomba and I think this is really the key to differentiating this dance from the others that I love. There is a quiteness in the moment that you step into another's embrace and dance to this music that is can be as warm and as intimate as you would like it to be and and when this happens between you, another person to the music, its just magical.

I have been privileged to see and hear about people blossoming through this dance, to see friendships form, to be part of a wonderful community sprouting up around it and to see other pockets forming across the US. I have met some amazing teachers and made some great friendships. Kizomba is not a dance that will take over other dances, it is a dance that will co-exist with other dances and that's why I think it will be hear to stay.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Updates on March Madness

I'll post more on the weekend with Kwenda but a quick THANKS and HUG to everyone that came. It was wonderful to share my Kizomba Zen weekend with you all and Kwend sends a BIG HUG back.

THIS WEEK: Tuesday Practica is NOT at the Belltown Ballet and Conditioning Studio. Please check the facebook page for information.

NEXT UP: VIS 2013 Mar. 7-10, 2013 with Kwenda Lima, Albir and Sara among other things ... This is a weekend of salsa, bachata and kizomba. There's a big crew from Seattle going! This promises to be a fantastic event: performances, workshops and dancing.

SEATTLE KIZOMBA SEMBA CAMP (March 22-24, 2013) is less than 20 days away: 3 nights of dancing, 2 days of workshops with 3 top notch instructors, 1 weekend of kizomba goodness!!! We have visitors from Vancouver (CA), Victoria, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, LA, Atlanta, DC and Houston already signed up. Don't forget to register and be a part of this wonderful long weekend.

hugs from Belltown...still basking in my kizomba zen and raring to go.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kizomba March Madness

Guess what? Kizomba is in Seattle Magazine's March 2013 edition.

Page 26 of Seattle Magazine March 2013
We made the news!

Kizomba is featured in the Essentials section of Seattle Magazine for March.

Can I get a shout out? I don't have children but I imagine this is what it feels like when they've graduated or won a special competition.

Its exciting to see, especially after we had such a great turn out as part of Century Ballroom's Sweet 16 Anniversary and Fundraiser this past weekend. The great news is that it doesn't just stop here.



There's lots to look forward to in March:


  • Kizomba 1 just started last week - its not too late to join. This 5 week series will teach you the basics of the dance. Stop by the Century Ballroom on Wednesday from 7:30pm to 8:30pm
  • 1st Friday Kizomba Dance is only 4 days away on Friday March 1st and we have a special guest coming to join our social. Check out the events and calendar of the Century Ballroom.
  • If you want to travel north, Vancouver (CA) is celebrating the final edition of VIS (Vancouver International Salsa Festival) which will have a Kizomba track this year featuring Kwenda Lima, Albir Rojas and Sara Lopez. 
  • Finally, in a few more weeks we will be welcoming Riquita Alta for her first visit to Seattle and welcoming back Eddy Vents and Oscar BA for Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp March 22 - 24, 2013. This is a wonderful opportunity to simmer in Kizomba and Semba with fellow Kizomba lovers and three of the best instructors for the dance. 
March Kizomba Madness - here we come!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Aftermath of a Kizomba Weekend

Its been two days since Ivo and Shani left and I'm still feeling the love from a long weekend of dancing, making new friends and spending time with familiar faces. Now, if only my feet would fall in line and stop aching!

It never ceases to amaze or surprise me how much warmth and welcome kizomba brings. I get to work with wonderful instructors who care about their craft, love what they do and share their passion so generously with the workshops attendees. On the flip side, the folks that come; new and old, are just as eager to dance, learn and share. One of the best things about weekends like this are all the new friends I make and learning about the things that tie us all together.


We just got done with three nights of dancing and two days of workshops. FANTASTIC! Ivo and Shani had such great energy together when they taught, it was so much fun to be in class and spend time getting to know them. What a wonderful way to start the year. We danced in three different venues: Century Ballroom, Limelight and the Salsa Con Todo studio and shared many laughs and dances in the process:


"Boom ba da boom"

"Don't do this all night... only three times"
"pop!" 



I'm in awe: this time last year, we were just getting started with our once a month dance on the first Friday of the month at Century Ballroom, Jay and I were teaching our fourth Kizomba class series at the Century Ballroom and kizomba was frequently mixed up with zumba (oh, you know who you are...). Now, there are at least three different venues playing kizomba music on a regular basis, kizomba classes have been taught at the Seattle Salsa congress, artists like Joao Rocha, Amafalda Amado, Ocar BA, Eddy Vents, Sara Lopez, Albir Rojas and Kwenda Lima have some to Seattle to share their knowledge and passion for the dance and kizomba class series have been running through the Century Ballroom for over a year. Just last week there was a song requests for kizomba at the Bachata Dance and a kizomba or two have been played at salsa dances. We've come a long way from our small beginnings and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

There are thanks a plenty to go around and I've made them many times. This time I'd like to share what I've had the pleasure to hear every time artists/instructors have come to visit Seattle. Every one of them has expressed how much they love our community here: how welcoming it is, how open and eager people are to learn and how much like a family it feels like. Our family includes the people from Vancouver B.C., Victoria and now Portland (OR) who have fallen in love with this dance and music and have been coming to Seattle to be a part of our kizomba family.

To each and everyone I say: Thank you.

I love dance - in all forms. For me, kizomba represents partner dancing at its purest and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible so I could dance as often as possible. Bringing instructors and artists here to Seattle to share their knowledge and experience was a means to an end: I just wanted to dance and have more people to dance with. I had no idea what to expect and didn't know what kind of community would rise up around kizomba. What a beautiful thing to have all our visiting instructors feel so welcomed when they come. They have all had a great time with us and many of them are returning to be with us again.

Here's to you guys for being you :D

NEXT UP:
Feb 8-10 Kenny Davis N'tolla Weekend
Sometime in the end of Feb we may be welcoming back someone who was with us last year.
Mar 22 - 24 Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp
Sometime in the spring we'll be doing a Kizomba Flash Mob!!!
Apr 20-21 Iris DeBrito Weekend
Apr 27-28 (Tentative) Cym√©one Mopao Kizomba Compte-Plein
May 6-9  (Tentative) Another returning artist


I'm not really sure how thins got so busy but its all good, HUGS and see you out on the dance floor.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let's Get this Party Started Seattle

Its been a little quiet on the home front as the new year celebrations have ended and everyone is slowly coming back from vacations, trips, holidays  and eye surgery (that's me :) and you can read that side story here).

So, let's get this party going!!!

We have our first dance of 2013 at Wad's coming up on Friday, January 25th (information here).

Quickly following that, Ivo Vieira and Shani Mayer will be visiting Seattle for the first time February 1 - 3 to share their knowledge and love for the dance. We'll have a weekend full of kizomba so come out for some or all of it and bring your friends with you.

The weekend will begin with 2013's first 1st Friday Kizomba Dance (2/1) at the Century Ballroom in East Hall. There will be another dance on Saturday night (2/2) at LimelightAND weekend workshops on Saturday and Sunday (2/2 - 2/3). We have a few visitors from out of town - our friend in Vancouver BC and the Tri-Cities will be coming so get you kizomba groove ready because its going to be a loaded weekend.

Following that on 2/9, Kenny Davis-Ntolla will be visiting from Montreal. There will be a welcome party and dance to kick things off on Friday 2/8. Following a night of dancing, he will be teaching workshops on Afro-Cuban fusion, Salsa and Kizomba on Saturday 2/9 at the Salsa N Seattle Studio.

That's a triple header folks (um, in case you're not a sports fan, that's a sports reference) - three weekends in a row.

Stay warm out there! HUGS

PS Don't forget to check out Kizomba Seattle and Kizomba Seattle Exchange on Facebook.