The Amabel Letters

Dancing The Kizomba


Kizomba is one of the world’s most popular dance styles, fondly earning the nickname the “African tango.” This sensuous form of dance gained popularity in the early 80s and 90s and continues to be a popular option for those seeking to express themselves through dance. Known for the smooth, slow, and sensuous movements requiring a keen sense of motion and tempo, Kizomba continues to be one of the most beautiful dances in the world.

The History Of Kizomba

As the Portuguese colonized Angola, they brought with them European dances like the Tango, which had never been seen before in the region. Additionally, a strong Cuban presence during the Civil War introduced many other dance forms, including the Cuban Son, the Brazilian Samba, Milonga, and the Puerto Rican Plena, which all meshed together to produce a unique new style of dance.

Eventually, the Kizomba emerged, with its Kilapanda and Semba origins combined with Angolan Merengue, creating a new and completely unique category of dance. Originally, Kizomba had a regionally strong influence in many Portuguese speaking African nations, including throughout immigrant communities like Lisbon, Portugal. Suburbs surrounding these communities like Almada and Amadora began hosting Kizomba clubs, where locals could come and learn more about the popular dance.

Although originally only a regionally famous dance, Kizomba’s fame quickly spread around the globe, gaining popularity in North and South America, Europe, and Northern Africa. It’s not uncommon to find numerous Kizomba classes, events, and even competitions, packed with people passionate about this incredible form of dance.

Dance enthusiasts spanning the globe are developing Kizomba obsessions and are passionate about dancing the traditional Angolan style and more progressive forms of Kizomba that are merging. As the popularity of the dance grows, music styles created specifically to highlight the sensuous movements have appeared, helping to increase the unique feel of the dance. Of all the music used for the Kizomba, Bonga is the most popular; however, other well-known artists who perform traditional Angolan Kizomba music include Neide Van-Dunem, Don Kikas, Calo Pascoal, and Irmaos Verdades. During the 1970s and 1980s, the vast majority of the Laundan kizomba clubs featured these Angolan artists.

Other countries where Kizomba music is incredibly popular include Martinique, East Timor, the territory of Macau, Sao Tome and Principe, Portugal, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, and Cape Verde. Currently, there is a new wave of Kizomba artists emerging onto the scene, especially in areas like Cape Verde, Angola, and many other North African countries. These new artists pair the traditional Angolan Kizomba style with Saoto, bringing in exciting urban styles like Tarraxinha and Zouk.

The History of Kizomba and Zouk

Zouk is a similar dance to Kizomba, with many hip movements, upper body torsions, close connection embraces, and body isolations. It comes as no surprise that the two dance styles merged, creating a unique style that is unlike any other. Deriving from the band Kassav that was formed in 1979 by Jacob F. Desvarieux and Perre-Edouard Decimus in Guadeloupe, Zouk is an exciting and upbeat dance.

The sound of Zouk originating from Martinique and Guadeloupe is a French Antillean Compas style, referenced after Mazurka or a Polish Folk Dance. The music style used with Zouk was developed in the French Caribbean using a fast tempo dance called Haitian Merengue Compasa. Other regions have their own forms of Zouk, including Brazil, where citizens proudly perform the zouk-lambada, a form of dance descendant from Lambada.

The Emergence Of Urban Kizomba

Zouk’s urban style has penetrated through to the Kizomba community, bringing its influences of R&B, Hip Hop, Dancehall, and Afro beat into play. As these two dance styles merge, an urban Kiz style is emerging. Tarraxinha, a dance that is fondly called Kizomba’s sexy cousin, is a new phenomenon growing among the Kizomba community. The dance, whose name means “little screw in a bolt,” involves the partners standing incredibly close and holding onto each other for prolonged amounts of time. However, unlike the traditional Kizomba, Tarraxinha involves almost no floor movements, with the partners never exiting the dance area, which is perfect for showing off the dancer’s isolation and “Ginga.”

The Kizomba obsession that took the world by storm has no signs of slowing down. With a strong presence throughout Africa, Europe, the United States, and South America, more people than ever are discovering the joys of this exciting and sensuous dance. Over the last few decades, there have been hundreds of Afro-Portugeues parties centered around Kizomba, with more to come in the future.

The Steps Involved In Kizomba

Dancing the Kizomba involves smooth steps following heavy drum beats. The dancers follow romantic, slow rhythms with lyrics originating in Angola. All of the steps in Kizomba reflect the dancer’s personal styles, meaning that after learning the basic steps, it’s easy to add a bit of your desired flair. Kizomba does involve a partner, so grab someone you enjoy spending time with and lace up your dancing shoes!

The Basic Moves For Kizomba

1. Stand straight with your feet placed closely together

With your feet positioned directly underneath your body, relax and straighten your spine while looking forward. On the left side of your body, slightly shift your left toe until it’s pointing outward. This movement will help you as you begin taking your first dance steps. Be sure to face your partner with your legs staggered slightly.

While lifting your feet and swaying your hips shift your weight from one side to the other.

While listening to the beat of the music, slightly raise your left foot in the air as you move your hip toward the left. Then, lift your right foot slightly, moving your hip to the right. Repeat for as long as it takes to get a feeling for the tempo and beat of the music. You can bend your arms at the elbow as you do this move, moving your arms and hands in a small circular motion to the music’s beat.

2. Step to the left side with the first bass beat

When the first heavy, low drum beat sounds, step to your left using your left foot for one beat. Follow with your right foot meeting the left on the next beat, swaying your hips in the process. Once you’ve brought your feet together, step to the right on the next drum beat, or if you’d like, shift to a backward or forward step. Be aware that there may be instrumental music before the bass enters the song.

3. Step forward three times, letting your left foot lead.

Once you’re prepared to move forward, take a small step using your left foot on the drum beat. When the next beat sounds, step forward using your right foot, followed by another step with your left. To complete the movement, meet your right foot to your left. Now, to move backward, mimic the same movements, starting again with your left foot.

4. Follow the tempo, beat, and sound of the music.

Kizomba is all about listening to the music, so be sure to only step when you hear the bass beats. You should stand in place during the instrumentals.

Dancing With Your Partner

1. Shift your weight, so your chests are close together.

While facing your partner, your feet staggered, balance on the balls of your feet. Keep your chest close to each other, almost touching but don’t lean on them. Once you get more comfortable with the Kozimba, you can rest up to 20% of your weight on your partner, but this balance may be harder for beginners.

2. The leading partner should place their right hand on the partner’s waist.

The leading partner should position their hand so it rests on their partner’s shoulder blade and waist. Keep your shoulders up parallel to your partner and relax your hands. You can also place your hand on their back if that is more comfortable.

3. The following partner should place their left hand on their partner’s shoulder.

Gently rest your arm on your partner’s shoulder, keeping yours parallel. Don’t squeeze your partner; keep your hands and arms relaxed.

4. Clasp Free hands slightly below your shoulder height.

Your free hand should stay relaxed and free with a slight elbow bend. Figure out what position is most comfortable, resting it somewhere between the waist and shoulder.

Mastering The Kizomba

To master the Kizomba, let your mind go and feel the beat of the music. During the instrumental introductions, you can freestyle dance and show off your moves. If you’re at a dance hall or club, feel free to switch up partners, allowing you to improve your skills and make new connections.

1. Don’t be afraid to move!

Move around the floor as you dance, taking three to four steps at a time when the song has a heavy bass beat. The leader can decide the direction you move, and don’t be afraid to move diagonally or try a few spins!

2. Break away and do a “Saida!”

You can feel free to show off your style by breaking away from your partner and doing a saida or freestyle move. To perform it, after breaking away, take small steps while spinning around in a circle to the beat of the music. Once you’re ready to rejoin your partner, grasp your hands together, take one step to the left side of their body with both feet and again to the right. Saida’s require practice, coordination, and communication, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t master it on the first try!

The Kizomba is a beautiful and sensuous dance that is full of passion and intensity. It allows you to release your inner fire and move your body, taking in the rhythm of the music. The Kizomba has a rich history throughout the world, and many devoted and enthusiastic followers, spanning the test of time and maintaining its global popularity. Although there is modernization to this artistic dance, its traditional moves and music still reign supreme. Whether performed alone or with a partner, the Kizomba makes a powerful statement. If you’re searching for a new and exciting dance style to try, you can’t go wrong with Kizomba!