My Kizomba-versay is July 24, 2016. That’s the day that I met the dance that would change my life in ways I would have never imagined! Kizomba is not just a dance for me: it is my dance, true love and soulmate. It speaks to my being; it is a living metaphor for my life. It is the place in my life where all the things that I love converge. It has been one of the sweetest surprises of my life thus far. I call it my beautiful interruption, because when I found Kizomba, all the other activities of my life had to take a back seat. I know many of you had the same experience! All the other dances I was learning were put on pause. Deadlines I had for school became tighter because I was out dancing or taking lessons as much as I could. It was like I couldn’t help myself: I had a desire to learn more and more. I used to be the type of person that was in bed by 9pm or 10pm, well that changed quickly! I was now up to the early hours of the morning and felt more energized than ever before! Kizomba is like a knight in shining amor who swept me off my feet into a magical world that brings me such joy! Sure,, that sounds corny, but I’d bet many of you feel the same. In this article I will be exploring three areas that have stood out to me as a newbie to the Kizomba community.
To me this is the most beautiful thing that keeps me dancing Kizomba. The sense of community is amazing! Since I got involved in the Kizomba community, I have felt a level of connection that I had not experienced in the other dance communities. I remember reflecting after class or a social thinking to myself, “Wow, these people are so kind and welcoming! How is that possible?” The people whom I dance Kizomba with were more receptive, more open, more vulnerable, more accepting, more loving, more expressive. It felt like I had instant family no matter where I was dancing Kizomba. I felt at home everywhere and with everyone.
In order to dance Kizomba you must be willing to be comfortable in another person’s personal space, and you have to be comfortable with them in yours. I suppose this says that Kizomba draws people who are willing to be vulnerable. As I have danced Kizomba, I have learned that it’s Angolan history of community shaped this dance. This dance is based on shared intimacy with another person, a human connection, this connection is fundamental to its execution and it creates a warm loving community both locally and internationally. I love that this sense of community extends internationally, a love for Kizomba connects me to dancers from all over the world. I love that even our YouTube stars are super down to earth. As I have attended various workshops and festivals, I am amazed at how grassroots the community is: there is a heartbeat that keeps us together. As a newbie, I have made amazing friends through this dance. Such a treasure!
Let me share a little about me… I have had very little dance experience. As a child I took ballet class for a little while. As an adult I took a few Chicago Style Steppin’ classes and some Bachata classes but that’s it. I had zero concept of what it meant to dance with another person in a partner dance. I have learned a lot, I want to continue to learning because I want to bring my skill level to a place that honors the history and community of this dance.
Beyond all the skills and techniques that I have learned, the most powerful aspect of connection is focus. You see, when I first began my lessons, my teachers didn’t concentrate on the mechanics of body connection as much as they focused on the energy connection between partners. Kizomba is about heart connection, more emotionally than physically. This was really the first thing I truly learned and the thing that I come back to over and over because this is what Kizomba is really about to me. Centering my heart, so that I can be open and receptive to the being of the person I am dancing with. My goal became to create a sacred space between us that is nurturing.
There is nothing more frustrating to me than to dance with a partner who is looking all over the room when they dance with me. That’s just bad manners: it’s like texting while you are talking to someone who is right in front of you. The most memorable dances for me are those with the leads who give me all their focus and attention, so much so that it feels like we are the only ones in the room. These dances leave me speechless. It is not about skill, to be honest: it’s about focus. This is the power of the partner connection. It’s the moment in the day when you behold someone, and accept them as they are, finding beauty and grace in them. It’s an infinitely astounding gift to give another person.
Will the real Kizomba stand up?
At the time of writing this I have been dancing for about six months. The bulk of that time I would say that I have been dancing mostly traditional Kizomba in social settings. I am very thankful to have my foundation in the traditional. When I get the chance to dance with leads who also have the same background my eyes light up. Just in the last month have I been learning Urban Kiz. I am excited to be learning Urban Kiz which is really the style of Kizomba I fell in love with when I first saw the dance on YouTube.
As a newbie it was challenging for me on the dance floor because I didn’t know your body posture was supposed to change when you danced traditional vs urban styles. Since my training was primarily in traditional Kizomba, when I danced with a guy who had the same background our dance was synced up, but then I would be baffled by leads who were also dancing Kizomba but with whom I couldn’t connect. I didn’t understand why their body posture was straighter and why their moves felt different. It was a few months after dancing that I learned that there are different ways to interpret and thus dance Kizomba. To me it was all Kizomba: I had been too new to know there were so many variations! Yet as I have matured, I feel that it is important to know the distinction and to honor traditional Kizomba as the foundation to all the many wonderful variations.
I appreciate your taking the time to read this! I encourage you to keep dancing with all your heart and to be a welcoming space for others. I hope to see you all out on the dance floor!
More about the author:
Keya Bhagirath is a graduate student living in Southern California. Originally from Baltimore, MD, she spent about ten years living in Central Virginia where she developed her career in higher education and healthcare. She holds a Masters in Counseling and is working on a Masters in Theology. Her passion is the intersectionality of arts and humanities with spirituality. Along with dancing, she loves to watercolor and enjoys spending lots of time with her French Bulldog. You can connect with Keya via email at firstname.lastname@example.org