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.

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.