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.

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.

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 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.