Looking to work on your rhythm or interested in taking a new dance class? Keep kizomba in mind. Originating from the Southern African country of Angola, kizomba is both a music genre and dance style. Kizomba also translates as ‘party’ in Kimbundu, one of the languages spoken by the Bantu group. You might be more familiar with semba, which began a few decades earlier in the 1950s. If you haven’t heard of semba, it is based on traditional African dance and colonial European influences. One of the most characteristic movements in this style is massemba, or the touch of the bellies. If you’ve seen this dance before, you’ll notice that the moves are playful and quick. Kizomba, on the other hand, is slow, smooth, and sensual, which makes it great for dancers at any level. The most important thing about this dance is connection. Check out some photos and facts of kizomba below, and sign up for a class near you!Kizomba is an African partner dance known for its smooth movements and connection. Did you know that you can dance kizomba with only four or five moves? Movement depends on the music.
“If it’s done well, if it’s done with the music, you don’t even need to do one saida, and I’m happy, you can only see a grin on my face because they’re feeling the music, they’re following the music. That’s what makes the dance as exciting as it is, not the moves,” says Angolan-born Riquita Alta, according to Kizomba Community.
Many people confuse kizomba for a Latin dance. While this is a compliment considering the wonderful variety of social Latin dances such as salsa and merengue, kizomba is from Angola, which makes it an African dance. Kizomba music, however, does have Caribbean influences.
Although both semba and kizomba originated in Angola, kizomba is relatively newer. If they seem related, that’s because they are! Kizomba draws its influences from semba but it has evolved to more closely match the music, which is generally slow and sensual.
‘I love the feeling you get with the connection of your dance partner… with the body movement… and the music,’ says professional dancer Melissa Arenas.
If you’re nervous about learning this dance because you think it’s too sexy, just remember what we said about connection. Connection is key, which means the dance demands you to dance how you feel according to the music and your comfort level.
There is also a standard kizomba hold which is intimate but not at all like the bumping and grinding you would probably see at the club. Movements are relaxed and controlled.
As aforementioned, Kizomba is relatively new but thanks to passionate dancers like Rachel Cassandra, who founded Kizomba Community after falling in love with it while living in North Africa, it is becoming increasingly popular. Check if it’s offered at a local dance studio or visit the Kizomba Community website.
One great thing about taking up dancing is that you join a real community. You meet people of all ages and different levels of dancing, and you can make new friends.
Kizomba music began in the 1970s and was first popularized in Portuguese-speaking African countries. It later became a hit in Portugal, too. As Cape Verdean singers and producers made their own kizomba compilations and semba dancers began to adjust the moves to this type of music, kizomba as a dance become more identifiable. Some say this happened around the 1980s while other sources say the 90s. Today we see kizomba in countries all over the world!
**Here’s a teaser of kizomba. Try it out at home or the dance floor!**