‘Kazuntite’? No, I’m not referring to the polite response (in German Gesundheit), that one says when someone sneezes!
With all of the dance and music events happening around the clock, all over the world, it isn’t easy to keep up with all of them. Most people have heard of traditional partner dances like salsa, swing and other ballroom styles, yet many people in this part of the world have yet to discover newer dance styles such as Kizomba, Zouk and the newly coined term Kizouk – which is a fusion of both dances. Allow me to get you acquainted.
Zouk is a musical genre originally from the Caribbean that has become known as a completely different dance style popularized in Brazil. Characterized by its head rolls and flowy movements, it can be danced to many different genres of music from R&B, pop, dub-step, Kizomba and beyond. We’ll take a deeper look into this ever-evolving dance another time.
Originating in Angola, Kizomba music and dance emerged in the 1980’s, stemming from (musical influences such as) Angolan ‘Semba’ music and Antillian ‘Zouk’ music. (The Semba dance was danced at events called Kizombadas as far back as the 1950’s). The word stems from the expression ‘Kimbundo’, which means ‘party’. Although the music and dance are of African origin, aspects of the dance from the walk to leg replacements have an Argentine Tango look and feel. This is in part the result of the mixing and sharing of culture that occurs with colonization. Today’s Kizomba is like a serving of Angolan Semba with a pinch of Argentinian Tango, with a dash of sensuality. This cultural blend makes for a colorful tapestry of artistic fusion.
Along with the basic steps there are also key hip isolation’s called Tarraxa or Tarraxinha mainly done by the women:
- Kizomba tarraxada – kizomba steps with base tarraxinha move
- Base or classic style
- Ventoinha – (fan) – Imitating a fan turning from left to right.
- Quadradinha – (square) – Ladies move their buns and thighs in a square shaped motion.
- Cobra – imitating movements of a snake.
- Lavar a roupa – translates to hand washing clothes, referring to the man’s hand movements mimicing hand washing clothes.
Initially popular in Lusófono (Portuguese speaking) countries like Angola, Portugal, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Equatorial Guinea, Brazil, Cape Verde and the Chinese Territory Macau; Kizomba has experienced a recent surge in popularity across the globe in places like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Egypt, the US and particularly throughout Europe. In Portugal the word “Kizomba” is used for any type of music derived from Zouk, even if it’s not of Angolan origin. In Cape Verde this style of music is also known as Cabo Love or Cabo Zouk.
Described by many as a slow, sensual dance, the connection with ones partner is extremely important and helpful in feeling the sometimes subtle movements and transitions between them. Known for it’s smooth simplicity and relatively low learning curve, it is especially appealing to those who wish to start social dancing at a quicker pace than most other partner dances allow. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any intricate or elaborate steps to be had, rather that it is a novice friendly dance from the very start!
It seems that there are new classes popping up all over, as well as places to dance socially. A great place to do both is at the dance congresses and festivals held in select cities around the world. Here dancers join together for a non-stop weekend of workshops, performances and more. The first weekend in May, the Queen Mary will host a Zouk/Kizomba congress featuring instructors and performers from around the world. Then in August the LA Summer Bachata Festival will host another weekend event filled with non-stop bachata, salsa, as well as Kizomba. The Kizomba wave is even starting to make its way into regular playlists at many local salsa and bachata clubs. So if you haven’t caught the wave yet, jump on, let lose and enjoy the ride!