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, October 29, 2016

Starting a Dance Community: Stage 2 - Spreading the Love

This stage is where the action happens and is my favorite stage because here is where the rubber meets the road and lots of things happen. This is the stage where you meet lots of people, coordinate events, and spread the word about something you love. [Just in case, here's the Overview and Stage One.]

STAGE 2: Spreading the Love 
  • Education: Workshops or Series Classes or Small Group Practise for learning
  • Dance opportunities outside of class 
  • Demonstrations: showing off the dance and music
  • A Blog, a Facebook Page, a Video Channel, a Podcast
In order to create and sustain community, people need a way to learn, to practise, to dance and socialize. In addition, there's still continuing outreach to demonstrate the dance and show off the music.

Not only for yourself but also for the people you're going to hook or have hooked for the dance. There are many ways to do this:
  • Find a local expert
  • Find a small group of people to learn with
  • Find resource online
  • Find other experts to talk to and learn from [fly them in OR fly to see them]
I did all of the above when I started Kizomba. In this day and age, I believe you can also work with people over Skype or a similar type of application that allows you to see and hear each other in real time.

After you educate yourself, there are 2 things to start shooting for:
1) Demonstrations the dance
2) Teaching the dance

They both go hand in hand because in order for the scene to grow, people have to know about the dance and someone has to offer to teach it.

Finding an expert and mentor is also highly recommended. Its hard to start something new and having that guidance and sounding board is important so you don't loose your drive, or get discouraged or get thrown off course.

It helps to know what your own scene supports as far as class: drop-ins before a dance? regular classes weekly? Progressive classes? All of the above?

In Seattle for example, its the norm for dance studios to have a series of weekly classes anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Weekend workshops and congresses are other ways to teach. Drop-in lessons are also offered before dances. For Kizomba, we started  with weekend workshops and then once demand picked up, offered weekly classes and then developed a series progression (ex: Level 1, 2, 3) to keep students moving through the content. I also brought in more experienced instructors from out of town to teach and designed different kinds of classes (musicality, role switching (leads learn to follow and follows learn to lead), dance camps, dance exchanges, etc) to keep people interested.

Here are options for classes:

  • Weekly, right before a dance/social/practica
  • Weekly in groups of 4 or 5 for series
  • Bootcamp over one day (2-3 hours)
  • Bootcamp over several days (weekend or more)
  • Monthly workshops
Whatever it is you do, it has to be done with some level of consistency and regularity.


To get people excited about something, you have to show it off: both the dance and the music. Think of it as running a campaign to educate people AND invite them to learn the dance. Use existing dance channels to start demonstrations and then get creative with other ways to increase awareness of the dance.

Here in Seattle, we demonstrated at salsa dances, fusion dances, bachata dances and clubs that hosted salsa dances. We did this in conjunction with a class that was about to happen so that if there were people interested, we could follow-up and let them know how they could learn the dance.

I was also lucky enough to get cooperation from other DJ's to play occasional kizomba music.

I also organized a flash mob to get people excited about it and have something out in the general public.

Once you built up the excitement and have students, they need a place to dance outside of class. The frequency of the social/dance party will depend on how many people will come. All I gotta say is PATIENCE. It takes time for a dance to grow and become something that people go to regularly so don't expect immediate success and celebrate every time you have a chance to dance. Also, be consistent about time and location: regularity and consistency will be key to having the event become more established and more popular.

You can start dances anywhere:
  • At someone's home
  • At a club/restaurant
  • At a dance studio
  • Any rental space that has open space and allows amplified music to be played.
We do all of the above in Seattle. The weekly dances are at a dance studio because these are the venues that dancers go to dance. In other cities, opportunities to dance are in clubs/bars/restaurants. You need to know where dancers go to dance and decide what works best where you are.

It might also be easier to partner with an established dance in the beginning, just to get the word out and then establish an independent dance venue as soon as you can.

Some community members are generous enough to host dances at their homes impromptu and / or organize pop-up events at parks and other places that are fun to dance in. 

Recommended frequency for the dance always depends on the number of people that are coming out to dance. Here is the progression I recommend:
  • Once a month to start
  • Once a week once your numbers can support it
  • Multiple times a week once the numbers can support it
Remember to make it easy for people to remember when the dance is by picking a regular time every month / week.

Here's specifically how I got things started in Seattle:
  1. Monthly Dance at Century Ballroom: thanks to some people who took a chance and others who believed, there's a dance every 1st Friday of the month which is the oldest running Kizomba social in Seattle. We call is First Fly Friday and its a ton of fun and still one of the best parties I have the pleasure to attend. I am a little biased, but ask anyone here, I'm pretty proud of how this one has turned out.
  2. Weekly Practise: this one has morphed quite a bit since it started. I intended to provide another night to help students practise so it started with a very small group at a dance studio. It has since moved several times and changed hands with hosting and purpose. What started out as just practise became a place to welcome new people into the dance and community and its now a full blow social of its own where people bring food and beverage and enjoy the dance. This event started out with a small fee and is now a free event.
After these two things, other socials and parties got started. You can see a full list on the right side of the Kizomba Seattle blog page or on the pinned post on the facebook group page.  

I firmly believe that people place more value on things that they have to pay for. 

I also believe that dance should be accessible to everyone and understand that money can be a scarce resource for some people.

There's no good answer to everything so you have to gauge what will work where you are: for your audience and for you as the person who is likely the source for the capital for these events in the beginning.

Seattle has a mix healthy mix of events that you have to pay a cover to enter and events that are free. Other communities just have paid events. Its really what the market can bear and you don't have to have a hand in everything. In fact, you DON'T want that level of control or responsibility anyway.

Parties need music so don't forget this one. Luckily, when people get excited about music, there no shortage of playlists out there for you to use and share.

When we started here in Seattle, volunteers would just pull a playlist together to get things started. Then, as things started to grow, different people stepped up to become DJs and are not getting paid to play their music at dances and festivals (how cool is that?!)

Seattle now boasts about three or four homegrown DJs that continue to perfect their craft and even get hired outside Seattle.

Parties need GOOD music.

As your audience grows, information needs to be provided as well as a place for the community to communicate and share information. Luckily, this day and age is perfect for all kinds of sharing:

  • Blog
  • Facebook Page
  • Website
  • Meetup
  • Mailing List
  • Video Channel
  • Podcast
Kizomba Seattle has a facebook presence, this blog and a Meetup. Use your channel wisely depending on your audience. Facebook by far has the furthest reach here in Seattle along with the blog. 

While there's a lot of excitement and wonderful energy at this stage, a word of caution that there can also be not-so-fun things to deal. Make sure you remember to trust yourself: keep your purpose clear and have a good support group close by. Always be your genuine self. 

The FUN parts are soooo much fun because when you experience first times, the shared energy that this brings is so unique. I've been part of first times in other context and its definitely I'm grateful for.

I didn't set out to build a community by saying I was going to be a leader or a money maker or a famous artist. I simply wanted more people to dance with, teach people about the dance and make myself a better dancer. I also wanted to find a way to make a living out of doing all these things and found that this part of my "wish list" I still have to work on. I do caution that if you DO want to make this financially viable, you do need to think BIG and scale up to accommodate that goal.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Starting a Dance Community: Stage 1 - Passion and Goals

This is where it starts: falling in love with a dance and wanting to do something about it.

STAGE 1: Passion and Goals
  • Love the dance 
  • Learn the dance
  • Talk as many people as you can: People who have started communities, teachers, promoters, other dancers, local businesses.
  • Envision what you would like to see in your community and your place in it.
  • Don't forget to create your own support
  • What's your Goal?
Often times these bullet points happen in conjunction with each other but I'm highlighting them because its important for you to really understand the extent to which you're willing to build something. Some people start small, some people go big, everyone's different. 

Me - I was somewhere in between. I started with a small group and then starting thinking bigger and bigger as I experienced more and more success. 

This one is obvious but really important because its about falling in love: which isn't dipping your toe in the waters or waiting to see what happens. Its "Truly, Madly, Deeply" falling in love.

Sure, you can start something even if you're not TOTALLY in love with the dance but you'll find that if you want to do anything sustainable, then you gotta just fall into it (or at least find someone who is who can work with you).

For myself, I dance a lot of different partner dances and when I encountered Kizomba, the music and the connection in the dance just took me. Every dance that I love has a connection that I enjoy but this dance just felt so natural and comforting. The quote that I posted on the top of this blog really does express how I feel about the dance. 

"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."
-Paul Coelho

Love doesn't mean you're an expert. Love just means that this is something that you want to invest in  and have it be a part of your life. If you just want to enjoy it, then perhaps building a community isn't something you want to start doing just yet.

Love also implies commitment, patience and a leap of faith because things do take some time to unfold.

I have to stress this one because I've seen people try to start something before they really know about what it is they are trying to share. In some cases this is easy, in some cases this can be a challenge. What I know about starting something and getting other people to follow you is that these two factors are really key to getting other people to join you:

1) Love it SOOOO much that its contagious, and 
2) Know enough about it to be able to grab people's attention

Learning the dance isn't just about the movement but also the music and the culture. You also don't have to be the expert unless you plan to teach it.

DO find the right teacher and find people that you can share the learning with if possible. I was very lucky to have access to someone locally who grew up with the dance and wanted to share her knowledge and had very similar dreams of spreading kizomba. I was also tied in to other dance communities and had good friends in those communities who I knew would also fall in love with the dance. In my case, I found a group of 8 people and for about a year, we met every week for 2+ hours to dance and share what we knew about the dance from youtube and other instructors we met on our travels. It was my Kizomba incubator and while all of these people are not as active as they used to be, they all became staunch supporters and advocates for the dance when I started to create a community around it.

Starting dance communities isn't an original idea because there are dance communities everywhere so why reinvent the wheel?

Dance is not something to keep to yourself because its something that you find joy in with someone else or by sharing it. It will come as no surprise that people who are active or have stature in their communities will be happy to share their stories with you. If not, no big deal, move on and talk to someone else. Don't limit yourself to the dance you specifically want to spread, talk to members of other dance communities and get their perspective on how their dance has grown.

Why talk to people? Well, unless you already have experience starting a dance community, then you need to build that experience somehow, or at least get more data on experiences of others and get fuel for your own ideas.

In this mode you are like an investigative reporter or a researcher. Start anywhere: talk to the dancers, talk to the teachers, talk to the DJ's, talk to the promoters, talk to the club and studio owners. As you start to talk to people, you'll hear their side of how things unfolded and you'll find out who the reliable sources are and who the ego-driven sources are and you'll be able to get what you need which is a sense for how other folks got things started and what to expect.

What's the goal for talking to people? 
  • To get information and help you figure out what it is you want to do. 
  • Understand the scene you're in because each scene is different.
  • Understand some of the challenges you might face in getting your dance adopted by others
Don't shortcut the step and keep your goals reasonable. I didn't start out by saying "I want to create a Kizomba Community here in Seattle." There are lots of tools to help you with setting goals and having a vision. They don't have to be grand, just something to start and keep asking: "What do I want?" and "Wouldn't it be awesome if.... " and "who do I want to be?"

I think its sometimes easier to give examples rather than to explain how so I'll share how I got started.

Within a few months of discovering Kizomba my goals were:
  • I want to have more people to dance with.
  • I want to get better at the dance.
  • I want to teach other people about the dance as a way to hook the into dancing.
Wanting to get better drove me to bring instructors to Seattle that I wanted to learn from and opening that up to the other people in the community that were hungry to learn. This also unexpectedly made me a promoter or event organizer as well as teacher. It also created opportunities for people to learn and come together to dance. 

I didn't really understand the part about being a leader in the community yet since things were so new. In fact, the larger vision become short team event related goals that I felt would be fun and help educate people and build a strong community. So in the interim my goals/ wishes evolved to:
  • Bring world class instructors in Seattle
  • Run a Seattle Kizomba Semba Camp
  • Start a Kizomba Seattle Exchange
  • Monthly Kizomba Dance to eventually have a Weekly Dance
  • Practica for students to practice, socialize and for new students to get to know each other and run by members of the community
  • Teacher Conference 
I didn't want to be the one responsible for doing all of these things and some of what I wished for was to have other members of the community get involved with these events. I looked for people who would also want to help and keep that spirit alive so that the community could sustain and feed itself.

In all the roles that I have, I have not been most vocal about being a community leader because I am very sensitive about acknowledging everyone's contributions and grew up with a culture that one does not announce one's own accomplishments. So, its important for me to recognize contributions and for others to do the same. I am very happy to have a community I can be a part of that shares the love of the dance, has a thirst for knowledge, embodies a sense of family and mutual respect and  welcomes new people. I am very happy to have been instrumental in helping others get their start in their own journey to share Kizomba. 

If you are starting a community, then your way of operating and your personal values will inevitably bleed into the community that you create and how you operate. Don't try to set too many rules and let you actions set an example instead. A friend and mentor once told me to remember to remain true to who I am and what I want to represent and not get dragged into other people's realities and baggage. Another mentor also said to make sure to understand the value that I bring and the role that I play in the interactions I have with the different people I come in contact with. This is helps you to focus on your role and goals as you move forward and it will also attract to you, people who have similar values. 

On your path to building community, you will no doubt encounter people of all kinds. Some who think just like you and some who don't. I've encountered some pretty crazy behavior when I least expected it and some hurt that has taken time to heal.

My point here is not to forget to take care of yourself. In any endeavor, you will need to have some help and a way to energize yourself that is not so tightly entwined with what you are trying to accomplish. So, don't forget to invest time to find keep close to you:
  • Like minded people
  • Mentors who are willing to work with you
  • Something that will help you to reset and balance yourself 
Back to the Overview
Next Stage: STAGE 2 - Spreading The Love 
Final Stage: STAGE 3 - Continuty

Starting a Dance Community: Overview

I've had this conversation many times over with different people who have wanted to introduce Kizomba into their communities. I figured, why not share my story and step by step plan. I'm starting with and overview and will elaborate on each stage separately.

In this step by step plan, there is room for interpretation and adaptation. I do not say this to "hedge my bets" or sound wish-washy. Often when I read a step by step plan, I realize that there are things that might be missing or different for me because of my circumstances. My experience as a project manager has taught me this truth: changes in the plan are ALWAYS inevitable. Think about it, in a venture like this one as you are also learning and growing, how could there not be changes? What's important is having a plan that allows for the changes and adaptations. The plan should also point out unknowns and risks so that you can tackle them as you see fit. Part of the change that the goals you set will also change as results and events unfold. Make sure to check-in with yourself from time to time because its easy to forget who you are and what you want out of your venture into starting a dance community.

STAGE 1: Passion and Goals
  • Love the dance 
  • Learn the dance
  • Talk as many people as you can: People who have started communities, teachers, promoters, other dancers, local businesses.
  • Envision what you would like to see in your community and your place in it.
  • Don't forget to create your own support
  • What's your Goal?
STAGE 2: Spreading the Love
  • Classes for learning
  • A Place to Dance regularly 
  • Getting the dance and music out there: showing off what the dance is like and getting more people interested.
  • A Blog, a Facebook Page, a Video Channel, a Podcast ...
STAGE 3: Continuity
  • How to Sustain the Dance
  • What is Your Role
  • Stay in Touch and Check-in
SUPPORTS: Finances and Other Things

NEXT UP: STAGE ONE - Passion and Goals

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Retrospective and Many Thanks.... Just Because

I remember the very 1st Kizomba dance I ran at the Century Ballroom in the winter of 2011. It was an experiment to see how many people would actually come to a Kizomba party. Jay and I were just starting to teach classes (back when Halo was still open) and in order to give our students time to dance, we had a with a short practice hour after class. There was no regular social for Kizomba though there were attempts at a monthly gathering in local club/restaurants where possible.

Hallie and Alison suggested that I try hosting a dance just to see who would come. It was a little nerve wracking, hosting my first social. Luckily, things fell into place: Maurycy very kindly volunteer to DJ for the night and I knew at the very least, my group of fellow Kizomba crazies were ready to come and dance and help me at the door. They all helped with details I couldn't even think of: change box with change, stamp, etc. I can't remember what I charged for the door (maybe $5?) but at the end of the night, I officially made $1 after paying back the rental for the room.


So exciting and nerve wracking and somehow, it was decided that the Century Ballroom would host a Kizomba Dance on the 1st Friday of every month starting February 2012. I was a little nervous that night but I should have known that things would work themselves out. That first night was a total success: all our students came out, lots of friends and supporters and fellow other dance dancers came as well. All in all a successful kickoff.

The very first 1st Friday Kizomba in East Hall at the Century Ballroom (Feb 2012)

End of the night 1st Friday Kizomba at Century Ballroom
The picture above shows the dancers that remained through the last dance that night. While most people in the picture have moved out of Seattle or just moved on to other things in their life, I think you'll recognize a few faces that are out there still dancing what they love.

There's a great energy that comes with being there first, to set the trail and start something new. I am lucky enough to have experienced that with a great set of friends. Back then 20 people in the dance was a great turnout and it didn't matter that you just danced with the same people over and over all night long.

I also relied a lot on this small group of people that fell in the love with the dance along with me. I believed that if I could just show people the dance, they too would fall in love and keep coming back. Our DJ's  gave their time freely once a month on a Friday night to make sure there was music to dance to. The dancers were just excited to be there and when I started teaching the drop-in lessons, it was never an empty class.

Fast forward to 2016 and we now have an average of 60 at the 1st Friday dance (with the highest number of attendees at 102). There is a Kizomba dance at least once a week. There are 3 studios regularly offering Kizomba classes and 2 others hosting regular Kizomba nights. Monday Night Practica started in 2012 with less than 10 people and is now regularly attended by well over 20 people. This community-run weekly gathering has changed hands and locations many times over the years and has drawn in many new members. DJ's are now paid for their time and even though the number of students for the weekly classes aren't always high, I am still able to teach this dance that I love to help others fall in love with it too.

Many of you who know me know that Kizomba is not the only dance that I love: I also dance bachata and salsa and when I can, dabble in tango, swing and blues/fusion. All these dance communities have great people that have enriched my life. I love to dance. I am proud to say that this Kizomba First Friday night, holds a special place for me because of the wonderful energy that is generates. I suppose its like watching your baby grow up but more than that, unlike any other night (and I could be a little biased), the energy in the room when you walk in the door to dance is always rich with warmth and still remains friendly and inviting with that tinge of that excitement to just make you want to dance.

Some time around 11:30 ish
Last Song of the night (1:30 am end)
I love taking breaks from dancing up in the DJ booth: it gives me the chance to watch the room, talk to the DJ, take some pictures and just soak in the energy on the floor. Last night was no exception. I took pictures during the middle of the night and at the end and as you can see, the number of people did not dwindle at all.

While I miss that first generation of dancers and the excitement of meeting them at this social once a month, the dance itself has never failed to life my spirits and make me smile. The Kizomba Seattle community has grown and somehow, it feels like everyone gives their best energy to keep things alive and well. Not only have we all grown as dancers, there are so many other activities and outings that have been spawned from the friendships created within. The DJ's that have also grown over the years and many of them now play their own gigs and continue to hone their craft. I think its great that the community has always understood that and let the love of the dance override the occasional bumps on the road. Every single one of the instructors and artists that have stopped by Seattle to teach and share Kizomba have said that this family we have is one of a kind and embodies the true spirit of the dance.

It is a blessing that I hope will never go away. The 1st Friday Kizomba nights at the Century Ballroom have always had a great energy to them that I never tire off and am always grateful for.

Kizomba Seattle Love - August 6, 2016

Much thanks and here's to many many more lovely dance nights <3

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August yo! Here's what's up!!

Its been a pretty mild summer so far and now we're officially in the best time of year to be in Seattle. Make sure you spend a few minutes everyday enjoying the sunshine and don't forget come out and dance.

Here's what we have for August....

Aug 5 - First Fly Friday at West Hall; Drop in lesson at 9pm Dance 10p-1:30a (Cover $16, Dance Only $10) with DJ Emanuel
Aug 11 - 2nd Thursday at West Hall with DJ Jay 9:30 - 1:00a (Cover $9)
Aug 12 - 2nd Friday KiZouk at Salsa Con Todo 9pm - 10pm dropin; dance 10pm - 1:00am (mix of zouk and kizomba)
Aug 20 - 3rd Saturday Late Night at West Hall with DJ Isaias 11p - 1:30a (Cover $7, $13 joint cover with All Vinyl Salsa in Main Ballroom)
Aug 25 - 4th Thursday at West Hall with DJ Jay 9:30 - 1:00a (Cover $9)
Aug 26 - 4th Friday KiZouk at Salsa Con Todo 9pm - 10pm dropin; dance 10pm - 1:00am (mix of zouk and kizomba)
Aug 27 - Saturday Late Night Kizomba at SCT 11pm - 4am

* Weekly Practica on Mondays at Metropolitan (please check group page for the latest) 8p - 11p
* Kizomba Lab Aug 11 - Sep 1 with Frances, Jay register at - CANCELLED September session will be Kizomba 1.
* Kizomba on Wednesdays at 7pm and 8pm in Salsa N Seattle with Mario with a weekly practica following.
* Kizomba Semi-Privates with Dennis (contact Dennis Richards directly)
* Kizomba at Salsa Con Todo with Galina (check

If anything comes up at the last minute - this group page feed will have the latest.
Please post Kizomba events to Hurry Out ( and check out

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

CANCELLED Kizomba/Urban Kiz/Semba Tricks with Freezy Bruce and Laura July 30th, 2016

UPDATE 7/27/16; Workshop is CANCELLED We apologize for the inconvenience and hope this gives you enough time to make other plans. Due low registration the workshops with Freezy and Laura scheduled for Sat July 30th are being cancelled. In the meantime, Freezy will be still be visiting Seattle so come and dance with him at the SCT Social on Sat July 30th. People who have registered will be receiving refunds through paypal. Thanks for your understanding - Happy Dancing!


Originally from Italy Laura Iannettone "Kizombella" began her ballet dance training with the Academy of Margherita Veneruso at the age of 6. She continued her studies with the modern dance Rome Academy of Steve La Chance and Andre' De La Roche. At the age of 16 she was invited to join Alma Porrazzo Academy, performing for locals theaters in Naples, where she achieved her choreographer and modern dance diploma. In her twenties she started to following in love with Latin dances"salsa" performing for the Mambo Salsa Band in Ireland. In 2003 she decided to move to California for more opportunities, that's when she met kizomba. In 2011 Laura was trained from a very good friend William walker "Oakland " who traveled many years to get his best knowledge of kizomba. In 2013 she was inspired by and trained with Rico kizomba Suave from London who is one of the most prestigious figure of traditional kizomba.

Freezy Bruce is a brilliant dancer and international Kizomba teacher with strong roots from heart of the African and Caribbean culture. He began as a member of a street dancing crew, and soon after became passionate about Dance Hall. He studied Kizomba and Semba with the French kizomba champion of 2010, and began developing his own unique style. In 2012 , he performed along with other instructors at the Zenith in Paris as part of the singer Elizio's dance team. Freezy is also a host for events in Bordeaux, and Metz in France as well as an organizer for the Lovkiz Brussels Festival in Belgium,and Paris. He has taught all over Europe and North America. His teaching and dance are driven by the belief that one has to open their mind and free their abilities to understand the music and master musicality and fluidity.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kizomba Weekend with Freezy Laura: Show Me What U Got June 18, 2016

Let's Welcome back to Seattle: Freezy Bruce and Laura Lannetone on June 18th, 2016.

Show Me What " U" Got U'rban Kiz Workshop is a three hour intensive for Urban Kiz meant for the experienced dancer. There are three hours of workshop are specific for intermediate / advanced students. This is one single intensive workshop broken into three 1 hour chunks. You still have the choice of taking one or two hours workshop. but its best to take the three hours to get the most out of it: to understand the spirit and the meaning of the workshop.
SAT Jun 18 at the Century Ballroom in West Hall
12:30 - 1:00 registration
1:00 - 2:00 1st hour
2:00 - 2:30 break
2:30 - 3:30 2nd hour
3:30 - 4:00 break
4:00 - 5:00 3rd hour
5:00 - 5:30 practice/wrap-up

Don't forget 3rd Saturday Late Night with DJ Jim Renn follows from 11pm - 1:30am in West Hall.

Workshop Payment (Service Fee Included)
Please type your full name:
Lead or Follow?

What is Urbankiz? [Freezy's words]
A new interpretation of the kizomba steps, the music of our generation ( creativity , musicality, body movement , fluidity , playing with the music and steps). If you want to know more then come and see by yourself!

Why Show me what ' U ' got?
This workshop will take ' U ' to build your confidence, your style, your skills, your Lead/Follow and ATTITUDE. This is a good opportunity to strengthen your basics to be creative and finally to start to build a real kizomba dancer who ie nont afraid to express themselves.

Show me what ' U ' got will be the first step of your dancing Freedom. Students not just be learning to be better dancers, they are also going to know what to stop learning!


Freezy has designed the workshop to help dancers be free and create. Learn how to manage the weight, stay in balance and listen to the Master (music) to open your mind's hidden drawers on the dance floor!

Teachers: Freezy Bruce and Laura

Sunday, May 1, 2016

MAY Happenings for Kizomba Seattle

Welcome to May with Spring officially here which means summer is not far behind! Here's what's up in Seattle for Kizomba.
May 6 - First Fly Friday at West Hall; Drop in lesson at 9 Dance 10p-1:30a (Cover $16, Dance Only $10) with DJ Mary
May 12 - 2nd Thursday at West Hall with DJ Jay 9:30 - 1:00a (Cover $9)
May 13 - 2nd Friday KiZouk at Salsa Con Todo 9pm - 10pm dropin; dance 10pm - 1:00am (mix of zouk and kizomba)
** May 13 - 15 Seattle Bachata Kizomba Festival at Salsa n Seattle ( **
May 21 - 3rd Saturday Late Night at West Hall with DJ Kevin Boyle 11p - 1:30a (Cover $7, $13 joint cover with All Vinyl Salsa in Main Ballroom)
May 26 - 4th Thursday at West Hall with DJ Jay 9:30 - 1:00a (Cover $9)
May 27 - 4th Friday KiZouk at Salsa Con Todo 9pm - 10pm dropin; dance 10pm - 1:00am (mix of zouk and kizomba)
May 28 - 4th Saturday Late Night Kizomba at SCT 11pm - 4am
* Kizomba Bootcamp (part of the Seattle Bachata Kizomba Festival but can be paid for separately) on Fri May 13
* Weekly Practica on Mondays at Dimension Apartments or Metropolitan (please check group page for the latest) 8p - 11p
* Kizomba 1 and Kizomba Lab (NEW COURSE!) with Frances and Jay: May 19 to Jun 9
* Kizomba on Wednesdays at 8pm in Salsa N Seattle with Mario with a weekly practica following.
* Kizomba Semi-Privates with Dennis (contact Dennis Richards directly)
* Kizomba Immersion with Galina Mar 8 to May 12 Tuesdays 6-8 pm
* Kizomba Workshops every 4th Saturday kizomba workshops 6-9pm
If anything comes up at the last minute - this group page feed will have the latest.
Please post Kizomba events to Hurry Out ( and check out

Friday, February 19, 2016

This Thing Called GINGA

If you type ginga on google (at least as of today), you get this on the top:

GINGA IS soccer. It's swinging your body from one side to the other to deceive. Ginga is creativity. It's the pedalada and trivela. Ginga is the opposite of boring. It's the opposite of mechanical soccer. It is having fun with the ball. It is grace. It is being fluid and coordinated. IT IS SOUL. IT IS DANCE

damn...that Brazilian has got Ginga!

I love this definition. Sure, its context is mostly in soccer (Brazilian) but for dance, these parts resonate loudly with me:

Ginga is creativity
Its the opposite of boring.
Its having fun.
It is grace.
Its being fluid.

Read that and let it soak ... let it simmer and then read on. 

This thing we call Ginga is something that ultimately has to come from inside of us. Your Ginga comes from YOU: the individual, the dance partner moving with someone to the music through dance. 

Since I started dancing Kizomba, I've heard people say that to dance this dance well, "you need to have Ginga". I thought, they are just talking about body movement right?  So I studied how to move my bunda, my feet, my chest... and then someone said, that's not it. So I sought more clarification. Along the way I heard many different definitions for ging and someone described it as styling. So, following my experience with learning salsa, I sought out these ladies styling classes. During my very first set of lessons about "styling", my instructor said: "styling should never interfere with the lead and follow dynamic of the dance."

Since Kizomba is danced in close proximity to your partner, I thought there was a contradiction with learning individual body movement. Why are we learning these movements that we may not be able to use? Unlike salsa where there is so much space to express, there doesn't seem to be any at all in Kizomba where we have to move as one.

Another aspect of ginga also that came to my attention: what's the "right" ginga? I heard people comment about how one person's ginga was not natural and how another's was perfect. When is the movement natural and expressive versus contrived and interfering with the lead? How do you practice it? These were all things I pondered as I worked to find my ginga. I started to ask my friends who led me to let me know how it felt when I applied different movements to my walk. I also asked them to articulate what it was like to dance with different people so I had a point of comparison.

As I focused on this aspect of my dance, I had to redo, undo, retry and try many things as I received coaching from other instructors and peers about what the appropriate body movement is. Some said my body movement was just fine, some said I had too much (those salsa hips going out of control), some said it was too sharp, some said whatever I did was fine. It was quite the conundrum for me. How was I to get validation with so much mixed feedback?

My aha moment arrived when I realized that the reason I was getting so much mixed feedback was because I was trying to hard to dance the way I thought I needed to dance instead of just trusting myself to dance. I was working with another instructor who was trying to explain a nuance in the movement. I was very confused with what he was saying so I just decided to stop thinking and just move with him and he exclaimed - "That's it! You got it."

Many of us suffer from Ginga - Envy: we see someone else's bountiful bunda and the movements resulting from their expression and grace and we want "to be like that". In that moment of wanting to be like someone else, we can easily forget that to truly have ginga, we each have to find OUR OWN way to move with grace and soul.

One part is practicing movements to extend your range of motion and get to know the muscles in your own body and how they can move independently and in concert with other body parts. I call this part the mechanics of understanding your walk and how to flow naturally with it, how to extend movements when the music allows and where it can be extended while still staying connected to another person.

The other part, is learning to love who you are: wobbly bits or skinny bits or whatever you think kind of bits - ALL OF IT. We are each blessed with our own beauty that often times we ignore and to really develop your ginga, you need to embrace all of you. This way, when you move, you move with all the confidence and grace that is uniquely yours.

As you are learning about how to move and how your body works, spend LESS time in the space of "do I look like that person?" and MORE time in the space of  "do I feel and look good about how I move?".

I got this suggestion from my belly dancing instructor when we were working on our "freeze" pose. She said "Don't be afraid to look at yourself in the mirror and try different poses to find your best one." No one is looking so try a pose that highlights everything good about you. Its can be difficult to do (and it sounds so narcissistic) but this exercise of looking at yourself can help to make you appreciate who you are.

I think this might be the hardest part about learning ginga: loving what you can do with your own body. You can take all the movement and styling classes you want and in fact I highly recommend it. But, don't lose sight of the fact that you when you're dancing, you to have love who you are, love how you move, love how it makes you feel and then love how you can connect with your dance partner when you dance.