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.

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!