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.

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.

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