KWENDA LIMA

This is going to be the longest article I’ve ever written and probably you’ve ever read. This is also the craziest thing I’ve ever done for my blog in 2018. And the most beautiful one.

In the last months I met a lot of new people from different countries, I made new friends, I shared lovely & interesting moments with them. It’s just that time, I guess, when my social life was booming!!! And I took my chances. I absorbed information like a sponge, taking the most of it.

In the middle of this communication blossom I discovered Kwenda Lima. I was told that he is one of the very first kizomba teachers in Europe. I would call him the “God-father”. At once I opened his webpage, and I realized that he is a MUST part of my blog-encyclopedy. He is the missing master-peace for my historical research about the kizomba roots in Europe.

You’d be laughing to hear that, but I believe it’s important to make this information available for the most curious dancers, who want to know how kizomba arrived to Europe. If you ask anyone about the eldest teachers they know, you’d hear names like Albir Rojas, Tony Pirata, Pitchu, etc… But these teachers also had their teachers. And Kwenda Lima is one of them. He is actually the teacher of Albir.

A couple of months before my trip to meet Kwenda Lima I sent him a long email. I explained who I was and why I wanted to see him. I got a reply from his assistant the very same day inviting me to Lisbon to see his dancing school and to have our interview in person. In a few days a booked my flight and in a few weeks I was already on my way to Portugal, thinking hard about what I wanted to ask him, writing down some notes in order not to forget anything important during the interview.

The day before I was asked to assist to Kwenda Lima’s Kaizen Dance workshop, taking place in his Kaizen Dance studio at 6 am in the morning to meet the sunrise! I’ve never had a dancing workshop that early hours, to say the least!!)). That sounded so special!! I was excited and I didn’t even mind to wake up at 5 in the morning. I knew I would love it.

The place was enormous, very spacious. High ceilings, lots of windows opened to the sky, the smell of essence and calm relaxing music. It was still dark when we started. Everyone was lying on the floor in silence… In the beginning it looked like yoga class. Kwenda invited me to join them and I took a place as close to him as possible to be able to watch him…

After 2 hours of a very unusual dance (his own creature) we sat on the floor surrounding him for a talk. He pulled a card from the deck and explained its meaning to us as a Message Of The Day. People were asking questions, he was replying, like a priest in a church after the mesa. I fell asleep right there with the first sun rays, listening to their conversation mixed with an incredibly beautiful music tape…

THE INTERVIEW

I would like to start by the slogan on your web “Dance kizomba with awareness“. I would like you to translate the meaning of this expression into simple words.

Kwenda Lima: “With awareness” means that when you do something aware of it, you respect it. You do it simple. You don’t make it look something inaccessible. When you are aware of doing something, you do it in a very careful way, not to hurt people, but to help them to improve themselves. It doesn’t have to be kizomba, it could be anything. But that’s why I said “kizomba with awareness”. We get into these situations in any dance because it’s a famous dance, it’s an opportunity, which is fair. So you jump into it, but in terms of your personal things, your ego, etc. you don’t think of what this instrument is doing to you or what people bring into this instrument. This is awareness.

You are from Cabe Verde. All those dances like Mora, Funana, Batuque, Coladeira, Tabanca and more.., can you dance all of them?

Kwenda Lima: Yes

Why do you particularly of all these dances teach kizomba?

Kwenda Lima: I teach kizomba because I wanted to reach the world with a different message.

What is the message?

Kwenda Lima: I could teach, for example, Morna, Batuque, but with those dances it’s difficult to open the door into a new culture. Kizomba is much easier. It was much easier to infiltrate, to be in someone else, to open someone else’ s house and to present the product. Those ones are very specific. They are not what every culture would accept. Kizomba is what people somehow need, because it’s closer. It’s like a hug. Of course, you have the sensual part, like people say. But the most important is that you are close to that person. That’s what people need in this present life. They need to understand their own emotions, to be close to other people, to be touched. That’s why kizomba is much easier as a tool to reach public.

But others are also couple dances, right? You also touch each other…

Kwenda Lima:  Some of them are couple ones. Batuque, for example, not. Funana yes, it is! But there’s a moment when there’s not. Coladeira is different: you have contact, but it’s not really a couple dance. Tabanka is not a couple one. Landun is what you dance in a wedding. But the way they dance is different. Funana, for example, is a ¨happy¨ dance, very energetic.

Like salsa?

Kwenda Lima:  It’s faster. It’s really strong and It has nothing to do with salsa. But it’s different the way a couple works. Morna, yes, it’s closer to kizomba in the way of holding, the way of being there, but it’s not something that you could teach, because it’s very boring to teach. All of this you have to take into account: what is going to be fun and knowledge at the same time? You cannot just drop things like that. Morna you can teach for about 10-15 minutes, or when you teach kizomba, you can give some Morna in-between (what I used to do before), but it’s not the dance to reach culture, because it’ very boring for people.

There we answered the question why kizomba conquered so quickly European hearts.

It attracts people because of the closeness, but it doesn’t attract others because of the same closeness. Some people avoid it because for them it’s too close and others love it because of the teasy part, the play between man and woman.

Do people miss closeness in their real life?

Kwenda Lima:  Yes. Somehow people are looking for THAT person, for THAT relationship, to be understood, to be respected. But of course there’s a group of people who are not looking for this kind of things. They just want to enjoy. The music is beautiful even if they don’t understand it. Although you don’t understand the lyrics, but there’s the energy in kizomba and a very strong sexual part, that can unconsciously attract you, and you don’t know why.

Good. Now let’s get to the point: who brought kizomba to Europe. When did you get to know about it?

Kwenda Lima:  Always. I started dancing when I was about 10 yo. Now I’m 40. It’s hard to tell you who brought kizomba to Europe.

If you don’t know, who knows then? 🙂

Kwenda Lima:  I will explain you why. My point of view: any palop, any African immigrant, especially capeverdians, angolans, mozambique, guinea bissau, when moving to Europe, of corse they bring with them their music and dance.

So, the first immigrants to Europe brought kizomba.

Why? And How? – Because when you come to a new country – you bring your culture with you. They were listening their music at home, inviting their colleagues from work and new European friends, who asked immigrants what was this music and how to dance to it. In Lisbon there have been kizomba discotheques for many many years, but they were for a more closed African population. There were some few portugués, but not that much. In Holland there’s a huge community of Capeverdians, in France and in Luxembourg as well. Everywhere, where you had a community of capeverdians, angolans and mozambique, kizomba was there! ¨Pasada¨ at that time. we called it “Pasada”. The word “kizomba” is very new.

My generation was growing calling this dance “pasada”.

Really? You mean Kizomba and Pasada is the same dance?

Kwenda Lima:  Yes. But before people would say “pasada”. Then, there is another side, that you can’t see. It’s the commercial part. If we talk about the commercial part, I can tell you who brought kizomba to Europe.

Who?

Kwenda Lima:  It’s very important to understand this difference. Kizomba has always been there (in Europe), but someone started to teach it, which is different. When we start teaching kizomba, which happened here, in Portugal, then here you would have Ze Barbosa. He started to teach pasada. Then Petchu started to teach too, but at that time he wasn’t into kizomba, he was in African traditional dances. And even before Ze Barbosa there had been other two guys, who used to teach in B-Leza, which is an old dance place.

Oh, I was recommended to go there tonight!

Kwenda Lima:  No, but this is the new one. Before there was another very well known B-Leza, but in a different place. They started teaching there, but they were not known. Then I started teaching with Ze Barbosa and Avelino.

Did you learn from them?

No, no… we learned by dancing, because it’s the part of our culture. We learned when we were kids by watching. And then we started to create our own way of interpreting kizomba. But no one learned from anyone. I mean, those 5 people: me, Avelino Chantre, Ze Barbosa, Petchu and Tomas Keita. And after came Elliu, Santus and Banderas.

I don’t know any of those names!!

Kwenda Lima:  Those people started here, in Portugal. And then Petchu started AfloLatin Connection. They learned from Petchu. Those ones are portugués and they learned from Petchu. And then I went to London to study and I started teaching kizomba there.

So, it was your first teaching experience in London?

Kwenda Lima:  No, it was here, in Lisbon. But then I went outside and I started to teach it in UK. And for the first festival, which is ¨Africa Dancar¨ in Portugal, I brought my students from London. So, 90% of the festival was from London.

Really?

Kwenda Lima:  The teachers in Portugal started to realize that kizomba went outside. And there were some Polish people, too. It was enough from that very moment to spread the dance. It was already in Poland and UK. Poland started to consume a lot of kizomba, inviting teachers there. The same happened in Spain.

You mean Albir?

Kwenda Lima:  Albir was not in the kizomba at that time. Another guy invited us to teach there. Albir was a student then. Afterwards he decided to come to Portugal to have lessons with me. So I taught him. And now we are in this situation when most of the people know him better than the ones who actually created it, which is nice. Although it started in Spain not with him, but with another guy, who later left Spain. He moved to USA.

You mentioned Poland, UK and Spain. But how did it happen that the capital of Urban kiz is France?

Kwenda Lima:  Festivals went to Paris. The French took the idea of the festival and they started to organize their festivals in Paris, like the Swimming Festival.

The Jazzy’s one?

Kwenda Lima:  No, Jazzy was one of the elements, but it was Stell. Jazzy was a friend of her helping there. So, Swimming was very famous. A lot of French people started to come to learn kizomba. But there was a difference: some people could not accept kizomba because of its closeness, sensuality, etc.. That pushed them to create their own style of being more apart and making new moves (some moves that I don’t know where they come from), because some of them could not make the kizomba steps. So they made a fusion. That became the French Style. With this French Style it jumps to Urban Kiz. Because they were teaching kizomba, but it was not kizomba.

Urban Kiz is not Kizomba. It’s totally different from kizomba. It’s another dance!

You think so?

Kwenda Lima:  Of course!! It has nothing to do with the kizomba. Because if you compare these two things they don’t come with the same basics. You cannot compare salsa and merengue and say “it’s the same dance”. They don’t have the same basics, so you can’t say it’s the same dance.

What is the main difference?

Kwenda Lima:  The main difference is the basics. They can dance under the same music, but even the music is changing… Urban Kiz is like a plant, which to survive needs to be feed from another plant. But afterwards it separates from that plant. This is Urban Kiz.

Why is Urban Kiz so negatively perceived by the Traditional dancers? Why are they so against this change (or better say evolution)? I believe that they both have the right for existence.

Kwenda Lima:  Of course they do! But they have a fear to loose something. The traditional dancers fear to loose the chance to travel, to earn money, to make their business, etc… This is what makes the fight!

The commercial part, you mean?

Kwenda Lima:  Sure! It’s not about the cultural part. Because if you understand the cultural part, you will accept it. You cannot force a person, or I cannot force you to feel kizomba the way I feel it. I can not force you to have the history that you did not have. I went through some things, you went through other different things. Kizomba came to Europe, but the way we embrace kizomba is different. The situations are different, the population is different, the way you interpret life is different, so of course people would need to adapt it to their way. And there the Urban Kiz was born. We said “Ok, I like it, I like all around it, but I don’t quite feel it. I need to put some things from my culture into it.” It’s normal, so it has changed.

Do you dance Urban Kiz?

Kwenda Lima:  I don’t dance Urban Kiz, because it doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t even learn those steps, because I don’t need it. If they play music, I can, I follow the rhythm. For me it’s not something that my body needs, because, if you noticed, the Urban Kiz (of course there are people like everywhere that dance beautifully), but it’s a kind of separation dance at the same time. Women have their moments and men have their moments to do some moves on their own, and most of the times they don’t connect… because their bodies are like robots, somehow. My body doesn’t need this way of dancing, but I still respect it. Because my body needs to exist. I exist. I don’t need to prove it. But in the Urban Kiz way there is an energy to prove.

To prove what?

Kwenda Lima:  Your existence. Energetically yes. If you notice, for example, (it’s a very delicate subject to talk), like in any dance, you can have couples that dance very connected, they follow the rhythm, the rhythm is beautiful and they are identified with this rhythm, which is tin-tin-tin-bum-bum… This music doesn’t make sense for me.

I prefer to eat food, that my body really needs, deserves and feels.

With the music it’s the same. If I dance to this “tin-tin-bum-pff-dun-dun-dunn”, my body gets this information, and it changes something in me. It completely changes my feelings. It’s totally different, if you put, for example, a melody… well written. Because that music they (Urban Kiz Djs) use, it’s not really music. A Dj makes this music, but there is no… juice. Nobody from the Urban Kiz scene can tell me that they play this song in the morning and they can relax. You cannot relax to this music. But some kizomba you can play in the morning and listen to it and enjoy it. But you can’t do it with Urban Kiz.

Why? Instead you can do it during the night. Because you body during the night is weaker. It would accept anything… It’s a game that I don’t agree to play:) It doesn’t make sense for me. It doesn’t make me evolve. The Urban Kiz music makes me go down.

If the Urban people would sit down, understand that the dance is different, they made the basics very structured to become Urban Kiz Dance, they could talk to the musicians to write the structure of the music to make it a bit softer and more beautiful, wow, that would be amazing!! But this kind of music, that being played now, that the Djs are playing and the people are following, for me this is not an evolution. And in the Traditional Kizomba as well.

I’m not taking anyone’s side.

There is music in kizomba that I don’t like. Maybe you don’t understand the lyrics, but sometimes it’s so aggressive. The energy is so aggressive to women. And I don’t dance this. But it’s not about the Urban or Traditional, it’s about the dance itself. It’s about the respect of people, about what you are doing to your body. What you are eating! People eat in Macdonald’s evert day. it’s OK. If you don’t have food, you eat there. But every day?? It makes something to your body. In the end you will have something. Maybe in 10 years you will have something.. Once in some time it’s OK, nothing bad with that, but every day? With the music it’s the same.

Well, some people don’t have much choice.

Kwenda Lima:  Even down there, if the Djs are conscious, if the are not afraid to educate people, because they don’t know! They think the music is correct. They don’t know! Of course people will eat what Djs give them.

What I’m trying to do is to make people think…. Don’t accept whatever!

You do it to your body! Just think about that! Is that the music that you would listen alone, when you are very stable emotionally in your life?

To me it’s a meditation. It was very difficult for me to learn dancing, because I had to learn to trust someone. I’m used to take initiative, so the most difficult part for me in the kizomba was just doing nothing, being relaxed and letting a partner guide me. It took me a long time to manage to live the moment. So, it’s the kizomba, even though Urban, that helps me to relax!!

Kwenda Lima:  You said something very important now, which is “allow someone to lead you, to guide you”. Not because this person is going to force you with his lead.

Because sometimes, we, the men, think “it’s me who leads…” No, it’s the woman who allows you to lead her!

But in Urban Kiz you are not creating this link. There is a moment when a woman is independent. Even the way men lead you is not natural and organic for your body.

Why?? Now you dance Kaizen. There are a lot of very strange movements in there.

Kwenda Lima:  Yea, but those movements, for example, (he stood up and demonstrated me a couple of them), are organic movements. What is not organic is when you walk like this! (And he moved in a very ¨dutch¨ robot way, like Micheal Jackson). This is not organic! You don’t move on the streets like this. If you move like a machine, you take your body and tell it: “Now we are going to move like this!!”. This is what I’m talking about. If you bring it to your body as a memory, you put yourself in prison, you are not free. I don’t like this.

Jajaja, actually that’s what I’m doing all the time. Even at work at my desk I repeat these movements on a molecular level, because my body is so used to them now.

Kwenda Lima:  This is OK, but listen, the most difficult thing is to tell someone is what he’s doing is not organic. It’s very hard for us to accept that what we have learned is not organic. Of course, it depends on the teacher. I know teachers in France that teach Urban and I know that they teach very well!

Who are they?

Kwenda Lima:  For example, Carola from Madrid. And also Curtis from Paris. They are someone who know what they are doing and why they are doing that. Curtis knows.

So, he dances with awareness?

Kwenda Lima:  I don’t say that. In kizomba not every teacher dances with awareness. What I mean by awareness is “not dancing for yourself and not dancing to teach steps, but to transmit something that could contribute to the evolution of this society”. This is awareness. And not every teacher is dancing with this purpose. They teach for traveling on festivals, to create more steps, to fight Urban Kiz and Traditional Kizomba and to have girls, to have men, to be on top (to become famous), etc… This is not awareness. What I’m saying about awareness is that someone can use that tool to improve people and to take them somewhere in their lives.

Curtis is very aware of his steps, why he is doing these steps, he is aware of his technic, but about the world, the people, the society, etc.. not every teacher is aware.

All of these is for you to understand that I see things in Traditional Kizomba on which I don’t agree neither, and I see thing in Urban Kiz too, but I am not against them. I think all of them are needed. If people like Urban Kiz it’s because they need that energy. If they like Salsa it’s because they need that energy. What I’m trying to tell people is that those energies are different. The food that you eat is different. It will have an effect on your body. Either you become more sensual, or more rooted, or more boring, or independent… There is an effect.

How do you build up your workshop? Unfortunately I coudn’t see it.  Where do you put your accents? What is the most important thing you try to transmit to people?

Kwenda Lima:  It depends on a group. You can have, for example, classical music in my class, you can have mantra, you can have hip-hop or break dance in my class.

To dance kizomba?

Kwenda Lima:  Yes, to show people that they can dance kizomba to any type of music. It’s only in your mind. And for me this is the important message to make people not to accept things like this. That’s what makes you enjoy. Because if I accept kizomba like that it will make me fight. It will make me say “this is wrong. this is right¨. That’s the truth. It will make me separate from others.

I want people to accept the possibility that they can play with kizomba!

Wait! You don’t do it with salsa! You can’t play hip-hop and dance salsa to it! Ho can you do it with kizomba?

Kwenda Lima:  Are you sure you cannot do it?

Jajaja I don’t know!!!

Kwenda Lima:  Try to dance salsa to hip-hop. It works!

Really?

Kwenda Lima:  Of course! If you want I can put hip-hop and I dance salsa with you! It all depends on the way you embrace the music and the dance.  You meet them together.

(Unfortunately, I cannot publish the complete interview right now, as I´ve lost my voice recorder and cannot find it anywhere for days!! But I hope  it is interesting enough to be my New Year´s present for 2019!!  I WISH YOU ALL TO LIVE WITH AWARENESS! TO CHOOSE RIGHT TEACHERS, BECAUSE THEY ARE SOMETIME NOT ONLY DANCE TEACHERS, BUT LIFE TEACHERS TOO! BE AWAY OF WHAT YOU EAT, WHAT YOU DANCE , WHAT MUSIC YOU LISTEN, WHAT PEOPLE YOU SPEND YOUR TIME ON!!!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Styling concept in kizomba by Inna Jadore

   Once upon a time in a beautiful city of Munich there was a girl called Inna. I met her for a little talk in the evening to tell me about her Lady Styling teaching. Inna has lived in Munich for almost half of her life, but originally, she is from Bulgaria. I will never forget the first time I saw her dancing. It was at Kizomba Luxembourg Festival 2nd Edition. It was one of the first festivals in my life, at the morning workshop with Donald Wilson. He didn’t have an official partner at that time, and he took Inna from the crowd of students for his Demo at the end of the workshop.

    I was watching her move and wondering how perfect her body was and how well she was following. She had been dancing Kizomba for a year by then, but clearly, she impressed me with her dancing skills.

   Later, I discovered that she started dancing when she was 6 and practiced different dance styles like ballet, modern dance, Bulgarian folk dances, hip hop, salsa (all styles), bachata and a bit of tango.

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   The weather was hot, we stayed at one of the main Munich attractions area on a fancy terrace tasting local beers. I started from the middle:

  • Are you planning to continue with your Lady Styling or looking for a partner?

It’s both actually. I’m not only looking for a partner, but my main goal is to continue developing myself and teaching techniques, like body technics and musicality, which are essential for the kizomba dance and which I teach not only for ladies but for men as well. I have at my workshops men and women. The thing is that organizers prefer to call the class “Lady Style”, because it’s well known, and therefore well accepted title.

Lady Style is just one aspect of everything. I prefer to teach body technics, musicality, body isolation, which is relevant for men and women at the same time, and the techniques about the way a couple interacts with each other, how they communicate to each other. I think this is the key for dancing together and interpreting the music again together.

Of course, having a partner it would be an enrichment. At the same time, I would like to further develop myself as a leader as well… And I believe that not only men can teach a couple dance (kizomba, urban kiz or tarraxa etc). This is what we can do very well, the women, too.

  • What is “Lady Styling”? I personally don’t understand this concept, because I believe that every person has its own style, so when somebody tells me how to move my body, it’s kind of useless, might not be applicable to the way I am. So, how could Lady Styling influence on me? Why would I need it?

To me your question has to do with two different topics. For the definition of a dance style means – what kind of a dance style or genre we are talking about. About kizomba, salsa and urban kiz, So for me there is lady styling for the different dance styles. . When you go to a workshop you should check what kind of Lady Style it is. It could be everything.

It can be just an inspiration, giving you an idea how the style can look like and how you can develop yours based on the genre and certain dance elements, but there’s no certain lady style as a dance style. It should be just an inspiration or motivation to create your own style, showing your body, leading and following technics.

So, the lady style class is not only about moving your body on your own, but how to implement a movement while dancing with a partner. And there’s another very important thing, that your partner gives you some space for interpreting music with him together, but not using you only as a marionette.

  • But you can’t ask a man before the dance: “Will you give me some space for interpretation?”

You can give him an idea that you want to express yourself. Because it’s about adjustment of both parties to each other. A couple dance is when you get to know each other in the dance and you find the harmony between you both. Only then a couple dance can be fun and look beautiful. So, the question is: can a leader listen to the partner while leading? Because communication in the couple is sending and receiving or finding the balance.

  • I thought that kizomba is the type of dance where women cannot take initiative or improvise. To my understanding, I must be a plasticine, letting a man do with me whatever he wants. The only thing I do is follow.

I cannot completely agree with you. It’s clear that in kizomba you have less possibilities than in other types of dance to interpret on your own, it’s true. But in kizomba you also have your body movement GINGA while following which you can use without being led to implement it. So, you can add your own flair in that space. It’s not just a style but how ladies and men move across the styles.

  • A body WHAT??? (I was ashamed for not knowing what it was after almost 4 years in kizomba)

Ginga! You really don’t know what it is? Oh my God! It’s a key element of the kizomba dance! Normally it’s the lady styling movement in the kizomba, but men can also move like that. It’s the bunda movement.

In other styles, like urban kiz and tarraxa you have more possibilities to put your personal interpretation of the music, where possible, if your partner gives you this possibility. It´s not only about following. It´s about expressing you both in the couple dance.

  • Do you know why I actually called you?  I saw you in the rating of Top 5 most popular female kizomba dancers 2016 according to The Kizomba Channel, scored for their skills, interview/professionalism and popularity on The Kizomba Channel.

A personal statement about me: Popularity is not the most important thing for me. For me the most important thing is that I can share my knowledge with my students and I see, that they are more motivated, more excited about the dance, that they are enabled to enjoy the dance after my workshops. It´s not that about the quantity, but about the quality at workshops, that counts for me.

  • I bet that any teacher now in front of me would reply something similar, as they are all very nice statements that everybody uses. All festival organizers repeat ” We prefer quality to quantity”.  

How many people on average would attend your workshop? 

I don´t have regular workshops. I´m organizing the second lady styling boot camp in Munich now. And I start teaching in Munich after some years of dancing internationally and teaching abroad. Most of the time I teach at festivals. And at festivals it´s between 25 and 100 people per workshop. But I see, that the less people I have, the deeper and the better we go through the stuff.

  • How do you make the difference with other lady styling teachers?

I cannot talk for everyone, but I can talk for myself. I always have open level workshops. The most important thing is that everyone attending my workshops understands the basics of kizomba dance, knows its elements and can differentiate the music and the genres. So that at festivals they know what they are supposed to dance to a certain type of music. This is how I start my workshops.

I think everyone has a different perception, a vision of the dance, and it’s hard to find someone having the same vision. But it’s about sharing things and communicating them to people, and inspiring people. This is for me the most important thing.

  • How do people normally become an official teaching couple? You just have a good connection on the dance floor and say like “Oh, let’s teach together!?” 

There is no scheme for that, but I’m pretty sure that the connection that you have at a certain moment is not enough to be a teaching couple. There are so many more aspects, like having the pedagogical understanding and skills, having experience in communicating with students, inspiring them… Most importantly they must have the same vision for everything. Therefore, I think that the two need to get to know each other first.

  • In your opinion how a good teaching couple is supposed to be?

There are many aspects of being a good teaching couple and there are many essential things I mentioned already, but repeating myself, both should be able to communicate to each other properly and communicate to their students in a proper, effective way, transmitting not only their skills, but their vision and inspiration as one!

   Leaving this conversation in the same place where I started it, I’m finishing my post thanking Inna for finding time to show me a piece of Munich and sharing with me her thoughts on Lady Styling and couple dance.  I will continue watching her dance, but now, having the chance to get to know her better, I will look at her differently…

Jazzy Cubango – a DJ, a teacher and an events organizer

Jazzy Cubango is one of those people who doesn’t need to be presented. I offered him to talk without almost knowing him, and he politely agreed to find some time to answer questions for my blog followers. I’ve always admired his intriguing eyes, that have already conquered many dance-floors around the world. I would take him to the list of Top 10 seducers in kizomba. But what do we know about him, besides his outstanding appearance?

Jazzy is an organizer and co-organizer of three festivals: “Let Me Kizz You”, “Paris Kizomba Congress” and “Castle Limouzikiz”. He is a DJ and a kizomba teacher. I’ve danced with him a couple of times. I consider him a comfortable dancer. I went to some of his festivals some time. I’ve listened to some of his DJ-sets as well. I saw some of demos of his workshops and obviously I saw his face on every photo of Russian kizomba girls. But still I’m sure that neither me, nor you know much about this guy. So, shall we discover this charismatic and handsome man together?

THE INTERVIEW:

  • Let´s start by your name: why “Jazzy Cubango”? What does this nick name mean?

In my life I practiced several types of dances. I started when I was young with the Caribbean folk dances from where I was born. Then Hip Hop, Cuban salsa and the Dominican bachata and afterwards I came to Kizomba and Urban kiz.

My nickname “JAZZY” comes from my teenage years when I started dancing Hip Hop and I was also a saxophone player… My style was mixed with the Jazz Rock (based on footwork), and my friends called me “Jazzy”. Then naturally everybody started calling me like that till nowadays.

“Cubango” comes from Cuba and Angola, as the first dance school I created in 2012 was called “CubAngo Connexion”. Because these are the two dances that I taught the most and that marked a good part of my life.

  • Do you still play saxophone?

sax

Well, I haven’t played it for about 10 years and it´s always been in my parent’s apartment. But when they retired and moved to Martinique, they gave it back to me. And now it´s at my place.

  • When did you get to know kizomba? Who was/were your teacher(s)?

In 2009, at a festival of Kenzo Medi in France. It was a Salsa festival, but the first one where I got to know Kizomba. Then I travelled to Poland and Portugal to learn more about this dance. And I met for the first time Kwenda Lima, Afro Latin Connexion and many others. They were my first teachers and inspiration.

After that, in 2010 I created the first 100% Kizomba Festival in France with my then girlfriend Estelle – the Kizomba Swimming Festival. I brought Pitchu and Vanessa, Albir and Sara Lopez, Afrolatin Connection and other artists. For the first 3 years it was the only one pure kizomba festival in France. Afterwards everybody started doing it as well.

Four years later I launched “Paris Kizomba Congress” with Fred Maestro. We are partners with him till now.

  • You are a multi-task guy, playing several roles at the same time on the dancing scene. What brings you most personal satisfaction: dancing, teaching, mixing or organizing events?

Teaching is the thing that most makes me happy. But during all my life I’ve always been in music and organised things.

The common thing that I find in each of these activities is sharing happiness with people. When I organize events or teach dancing steps or play music, I share my happiness with others… It is the meaning of the bird “colibri” that I have tattooed on my neck.

jazzy tattoo

 

  • Do you have only 1 tattoo?

hybiscusNo, I have 2. The other one is on my back- it´s hibiscus flower. It represents Martinique (I´m from Martinique). They call Martinique – The Flower Island. And the main flower representing the island is Hibiscus. The tattoo is a mixture of Hibiscus with the musical note “sol”.

 

  • Do you have favorite destinations?

Yes, I have. I travel almost all over the world. But my favorite ones for dancing Kizomba are Russia, Croatia, Sweden and some others. Because I found their people have really good and positive energy.

I like Russia because the dancing level of girls is very good. Russian girls are very conscious about their femininity. They really live the dance! Others can be technically good, but they care more of the visual aspect. It´s more intense on the emotional level with Russian ladies.

  • Do you have a teaching partner now (for workshops)? Who is she?

I had one. Her name is Dana. We worked together for one year. She lives in Germany. It was a bit difficult to meet.  Now I have no partner.

  • Do you give regular classes in Paris on working days or only while travelling to festivals at weekends? Do you give private lessons as well? How much does one cost?

Three years ago, I stopped my regular classes in Paris, because I was travelling almost all the time. Now I focus myself on festivals abroad and on the organization of my events – “PKC” and a new concept “Let Me Kizz You”.

I give exclusively private classes and sometimes one-time workshops in France.

  • I always ask this question to “decision-makers” of Kizomba: if it was in your power to change something on the kizomba dance scene, what would it be?

If I had to change something? Hmmm… I would not change anything about kizomba or urban kiz. I find it perfect! That’s why it attracts so many people. The only thing that could be good is to change the attitude of some people, who are not passionate about the dance itself, but who are there just to take advantage of the scene. People with bad intentions, taking themselves for who they are not and judging others. But unfortunately, we cannot change the mindset of others.

  • I´m sure that many ladies constantly ask for your attention. How do you refuse some? Do you feel uncomfortable to say “no” to a dance? In what cases do you refuse a dance?

I feel very uncomfortable to say “no”. Even if it’s only for one dance I try to say “yes”. But the thing is, people cannot imagine how many times a teacher is asked for a dance. It’s impossible to dance with everyone. And now I’m also a DJ. Thus, I have even less time to dance at festivals. It’s more difficult.

Teaching and mixing takes twice as much energy and time… So usually I reply something like “not now” or “later”, if at that moment I’m busy or tired.

Anyway, I always keep one hour during the night to dance with everybody and some time for myself.

  • Where and how do you see yourself in 5 years?

Maybe I will still be organizing festivals in France or in other countries. Maybe I will be still working as a DJ. I really don’t know. I’ve been in kizomba for 8 years now. It changes a lot in a good way as well as in a bad way, but I stay always addicted. So, let’s see what happens next. I’ll be in the music that’s for sure.

  • What advice would you give people who have just came to this kiz-world, according to all your experience?

Dancing can be a passion for some people and entertainment for others. A fun can become a passion. If you come to the kiz-world, keep in mind that this is not true life … Do the separation between the positive and negative things, keep only the positive for yourself and live your kizomba as you feel.

  • What can you tell the world about David Giboyau?

Nothing special. It’s just my real name, in normal life. The name on my papers

  • Could we learn something about your real life, like what do you do apart from kizomba?

Ah, you already know my real name. I work in the French National Train Company, managing train stations in Paris. I’ve been doing it part-time now for 5 years, to free up more time for dancing and travelling.

I always do both: real life activities and the music.

  • Many people, who are so much into the dancing scene, just leave their normal everyday jobs and dedicate themselves completely to music. Why do you still keep your job?

I could leave it, but I always think about the future, about what could happen. You never know if one day I had an accident, then at least I would always have a normal job. Besides, I have a lot of benefits here. I have free transport in France and all neighbouring countries, like Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, etc., anywhere where I can depart from Paris by train. It’s very comfortable in terms of money savings)

  • I´m sure half of female kizomba population would like to know at least if Jazzy Cubango has a girlfriend. Do you?))

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Jazzy Cubango Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/cubango.jazzy/

https://www.facebook.com/jazzycubango.new

https://www.facebook.com/JazzyCubango.kizomba/

Born dancer – BODY KIZ LANGUAGE

   Let me introduce you to a born dancer, a man who´s been on the stage for over 12 years, who had made his long dancing way to kizomba through different styles and experiences. Harvey BKL (David by his real name)!  Music is in his blood. It´s his devotion and philosophy.

  I met him last year on the dance floor. I asked myself why becoming a teacher in Paris with such an incredible rivalry. Would he ever find enough students to open a course? What is so special about him that people come to learn from him?

  • What is your story?

I have been practicing the art of dance since 2006. I started with Hip-Hop were I met the international teacher Ledoux Danza, who was teaching hip hop yet, but who was not dancing kizomba back in the days. Then I was involved in my first project: Illusion Optique show.
We were a troupe of street performers. We brought a lot in the streets environment in Paris and Europe with new entertainments technics. After that I decided to learn academic dances like ballet, jazz and modern (Alvin Hailey jazz and Graham method). I passed the admission to the Académie Internationale de la Dance in Paris. I took class there every day from 8.30 am to 5 pm for 3 years, that helped me a lot to develop my dancing skills.

With Illusion Optique we decided to travel to conquer the streets if foreign countries (USA, Italy, Germany, Spain, England, Sweden, Belgium), where we had a great success. We created a company specialized in entertainment and we presented shows everywhere we went.

One day I decided to stop our project, because we didn´t share the same point of view and we couldn’t agree on which direction to take…. We were losing our artistic authenticity, that had been our strength, for the sake of money. I was teaching a lot as well at that moment.

  • When and why did you get into Urban Kiz?

I got into urban in 2015 because I found the same freedom that I had had in hip hop. The freedom of creation. Soon I wanted to improve in kizomba dance.

  • Who were your teachers?

I took classes with Enah and Curtis. I also met Anais Millon by talking her class first, and afterwards I took part in her company project. I was her show-partner for 8 months. I learned a lot from her as she trained me a lot. And i had the opportunity to assist her during at workshops during this period (Work hard play hard). Our collaboration finished in January 2017. Then I created my own concept “Body Kiz Language”.

  • What is it about?

Basically, I really believe that dancing is a way of communicating. Through body movements (no matter which style) we can tell a lot and we can create emotions, sensuality, seduction. I dedicated a lot of time to it in in my dancing. I’am a hardworker because i’m convinced that no matter the talent you have it will not replace the job you do to improve. Everything I have I built myself and I’m proud of it! I’m not the best, but I can make people improve and give them advice how to dance better due to my dancing experience.

Ultimately this concept is about mixing styles… I express myself in the dance with different influences i got form my artistic background and I want to explore it in a new way in urban kiz, pushing a little bit more the boundaries to see what happens. For me the dance is always evolving… we are all part of it. I understand that people might think differently than me, but I think that it’s the choice you make to be a part of this evolution…

I’m new to teaching in kizomba and I’m happy that at the end of all my workshops my students have smiles on their faces and overall motivation to improve!

  • And now I see you teaching and performing with a new nice lady. Can you tell me a bit about your partnership and professional plans for the nearest future?

28378082_1592360110871469_8767355662596462181_nYes, its Nina Ysnel! We started working together in December 2017 to perform for an event against orphan diseases. It was a very nice experience. She is a very talented and complete artist doing painting and creating clothes and objects. We started working together in December 2017 and she’s also my girlfriend. Its always touchy to mix those two environments…. but its possible and for the moment we are doing very well! She has ballet dancing background and was one of the first to bring some fusion in the lady styling with moved like “ronds de jambes” and “fendus” picked from ballet dancing vocabulary. She’s also very experienced in the kizomba scene due to her previous partnerships…

So, we are working on mixing her universe with mine and our differents projects are on they way. Its coming soon 😉

  • I know you love kizomba. But is there anything you would change in the kizomba world if you could?

There are few talented and inspiring dancers i’ve seen that don’t get the visibility that they deserve…. I just think its sad.

Business is business, yes. but just let’s not forget that art is art too.

For the rest, people enjoy this world the way they want to, I’am noone to judge… 😉

 

  • If you had to move to teach in a different place, what country would you chose? Where do you like to dance most?? Do you have favourite destinations?

 

I would be happy to teach everywhere… the priceless value of this passion is to meet amazing people and share with them something priceless! I Like to dance foreign because the mentality is different than here and I find people more open and more friendly and respectful. This might upset some people but its my opinion.

No favorite destination!

 

  • What is your dancing dream?

My dream is to constantly improve and share this passion by dancing and teaching to many people as possible with my partner. I would like also to learn new dances and explore Always and always.

  • Where can people find you in Paris?

We are on some projects for the moments, so we are available only at weekends for teaching. Nevertheless,e will soon launch a weekly classes in Maison Alfort. We will communicate accordingly.

For the parties and festivals where we will be teaching people  can learn from our Facebook page .

 

 

FB page link “Harvey & Nina”:  https://www.facebook.com/harveyninakizomba/

FB page link “Body Kiz Language”:  https://www.facebook.com/BodyKizLanguage/

 

 

Mike Evens & Skizomba in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

The concept

Just back from a very special trip to Chamonix- Mont-Blanc – a resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy – organized by Mike Evens. It’s difficult to call it a “festival” or any other. I would say it´s a mixture of sports, kizomba, playing games, socializing and having fun – SKIZOMBA!!!

A very particular concept of Ski practice + Kizomba dance had its first edition 7 years ago. I have never heard of it before. But looking for unusual experiences I paid attention to it and decided to make it one of my priority trips 2018. When I got everything solved and confirmed I felt those butterflys in my stomach!

Mike Evens

Knowing Mike Evens as one of the key players on the kizomba scene, as the organizer of one of the most popular kizomba festivals – I’M YOUR DJ – and having already visited some of his festivals, I knew it could not turn bad, to say the least.

Mike Evens team is one of the best team-organizers in the dancing world. That must have been win-win trip anyway. Although I haven’t skied for almost 10 years, that didn’t stop me from going there. 

The road trip took a bit over 6 hours. No snowfalls or stories. It was very easy to find the place. Everyone could communicate through a TEAM group in What’sApp with their suggestions, looking for each other, making plans or any other aspects related to the organization of the event. It was comfortable, quick and very useful. I got updated at once on every change, so I could react accordingly.

The atmosphere

In a familiar atmosphere, I got lost in the time. I lived a small life among the Alps in a little place that was my house for a while. Too many days for too few people (about 60) made us feel a real community, and I would rather say one family members.  It is the smallest “festival” I have ever gone in my life!

That was a real relax time, laughing, making new friends, enjoying the wonderful nature panorame of Mont Blanc and bathing in the snow… At first, I wanted to interview Mike Evens for my blog, but the more time passed by, watching him in action, the more I realized I had nothing to ask him. I saw everything I needed written on his face: whatever he does in kizomba as an organizer or a teacher, he really enjoys doing it. He loves dancing!!! Therefore, first of all, to me Mike Evens is a dancer. Full of energy he is always there being present in complete access for the guests. But it’s not just him, it’s all his friends and team being the same way crazily energizing the public. If you once go to his event, you will follow him forever.

Pure emotion

Please, note, I’m not writing these compliments to Mike Evens as a promotion for his new edition of Skizomba or any other of his kizomba festivals. This opinion is my pure emotion and impression on what I experienced in the last days. I’d say more: he injured his shoulder on the ski slope, and the same night afterwards I saw him taxi-dancing nonstop with the bandaged hand!! I saw him jumping, starting the audience and singing and I was astonished! No words but thanking Mike Evens, Kal and Estelle for the great job!

If you ever decide to go to Skizomba, keep in your mind, this is not a simply dancing festival; this is your Holidays time to disconnect from the rest of the world. I would also advice you to visit the small village of Chaminix, to have a meal there outside watching the mountains at the background…

Now I’m back home, but still in my mind in that small village in the mountains having hot wine and chilling with people that share the same passion with me.

 

Kizomba teacher – Aimé from Luxembourg

The first person, I dedicate my post to, is my first kizomba teacher – Aimé.

Many of you know him. In Luxembourg he is a Kizomba Man #One for me. But the day I met him I didn’t know that. Anyway it doesn’t change anything. His fame hasn’t changed him, he’s still the most considerate teacher I’ve ever known. There are dancers/taxi-dancers who became really arrogant and rude in the light of their Glory, but it’s not the case of Aimé; and this was the first thing I wanted to highlight about him.

When I started I had no criteria. I could not compare. I didn’t realize how lucky I was. Because a kizomba teacher is not just a very good dancer. It’s also a person with a great ability to explain, patience, good discipline and sense of responsibility, who knows how to transmit correctly information or skills to others. Not everybody can teach.

Unfortunately there’re too many courses appearing recently out there like mushrooms after the rain and closing at the same speed, because  kizomba people are so artistic type, they are gone with the wind depending on their inspiration and mood. When they start a course and then go travelling every 7 lessons out of 10 per month, I don’t see any point for them to start a course. Even if you are the best dancer in the world, but unable to be responsible for people who rely on you, willing to learn, it makes no sense. So, my kizomba teacher was all the contrary.

What particularly makes his teaching so good for me?

  • he speaks English very well so he can perfectly explain everything to foreign people and and expats whose French is still a shit.
  • he is very steady regarding the place, the time and day of lessons. He seldom makes changes, so you always well know where to go, like a clock – no mess in plans, no unexpected surprises.
  • if there are many people he doesn’t forget to change lines often so that everyone could see and hear him very well (I refer myself to workshops)
  • he’s joking all the time, which makes his lessons a lot of FUN, so you are sure to have a very good time in warm home-feeling environment.
  • even if you know nothing about kizomba and want to start from zero, you don’t have to wait until September, but you can directly join his lessons whenever you want during the year, because every lesson (Beginner Level**)  starts in the same way – basic steps and moves. So you are always able to catch up on the most important stuff.
  • at the end of lessons he gives 5-10 minutes time for free couple dance in order to IMPROVISE on what has been learned during the lesson. He asks gentlemen to mix up moves as they wish (changing order, rhythms, etc.) , make more or less steps than it was shown in the “combination”,  which develops their OWN IMAGINATION and helps them to better cope at parties.
  • at social parties he will invite you for a dance. Even if has to refuse you at a point in time – he has a good reason for that, and he will do it in the nicest possible way. Also he never forgets about that person he refused – he will invite you back the moment he has a chance to do so. At least according to my experience and to what I’ve been observing him for months and comparing with what I’ve being told about other teacher… This definitely gives him a big score!

I have tried hard to interview him for this post, but in the light of the third edition of our Luxembourg International Kizomba Festival he was so extremely busy, that I realized it could be some time before the interview happens. However, I felt right to publish my thoughts on him just after the Festival, so you could see for yourselves what a great organizer he is and what a great projects and events he is capable of putting together, with the help of his team.

This post is not about Luxembourg Kizomba Festival, it’s just about my kizomba teacher Aimé.

To finish this positive feedback I’d like to personally THANK him for everything he has taught me!!!

THANK YOU