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".

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