Kiz Talks, Nov. 13, 2014
Some time back a friend shared a video on Facebook – two ladies dancing together in a kizomba workshop demo. There were no names attached to the video, so I reached out to ask if anyone knew who they were. The answer came back after a couple of days: Sonja and Elisa of Kikizomba.
I was thrilled to see that there were women in Europe willing to go up against the traditionally gender-assigned roles in such a public arena. I recalled quite well the snipes and jokes aimed at me in European kizomba festivals for the hubris of opting to take classes as a leader. Soon after that I got into conversation online with Riquita Alta in the UK, another respected instructor and female leader. Only a couple weeks ago I was in Moscow and met Tanya, who organizes and DJ’s a popular kizomba social there and is an accomplished leader as well.
I began to realize: we ladies here in the United States who are working hard to build kizomba scenes in our communities, who are not interested in being relegated to the role of assistant to a man – we are not alone, and we are not unusual. However, we might be at a pivotal point in the development of kizomba in our country. We might have a chance to claim an equal position for women. We might be able to show respect and recognition for the types of community roles that too often fade into the background, overshadowed by the obsession with celebrity instructors. We might be able to model leadership for the upcoming generation of female kizomba dancers.
With all this in mind, I’d like to introduce a new blog series: Ladies & Leadership. These will be primarily written articles based on interviews I conduct with women who can inspire and advise us from the vantage of their experience teaching, organizing, and of course, dancing kizomba. I will inquire about their histories, roles in their dance communities, motivations for taking leadership, challenges faced, and advice for ladies looking to take on similar positions of leadership. While I will be writing primarily for an American audience, I think that these ideas and issues are global ones. Share widely. Comment. Discuss. Lead.