How to Transform Your Kizomba Movement (I)

Kiz Talks, Aug. 1, 2014

As promised! Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this I realized that providing the level of detail I wanted was going to make this WAY to long for one blog post. So I’ve split it into two sections: Basic Movement and The Two C’s.

Section 1: Basic Movement

First: How to Stand.

Yes, I know, few people show up to kizomba class incapable of standing up. We aren’t exactly wheelchair- or toddler-friendly. Yet most of us stand in ways that aren’t conducive to good kizomba movement.

Part A: Your Feet

Stand with split weight. Try moving your center of gravity around. Feel the various parts of your feet on the floor. What happens if you lean back? Forward? To the side?

Now, bring your weight forward as though you were trying to intimidate someone, “get in his face” without bending at the waist. Continue until you feel like your toes are holding on for dear life! – and then relax backward slightly. You should feel the front pad of your foot most strongly now. This is what dancers call the ball of your foot.

In kizomba, you (almost) always want to have your weight forward. This is true for when you are moving forward or backward or dancing on the spot. It facilitates good connection in the torso and makes leading and following much clearer.

Part B: Your Posture

You might have learned that standing up straight means pulling your shoulder blades back, or lifting your chest up. Well, in kizomba you can relax a little. Let your shoulders sit naturally, so that if someone poured a little water on the side of your neck, it would roll right down the line of your shoulder and down the side of your arm. Your sternum can face forward.

Second: How to Change Weight

Part A: Your Feet

Earlier we located the ball of your foot. When we change weight in kizomba, we’re going to lift one foot slightly, then place it on the floor carefully, stepping on the ball of the foot, then placing all of the rest of the foot flat on the ground. The foot is always close to the floor, but it does come up completely and then step in two brief stages: BALL-FLAT

Part B: Your Knees

Actually, it’s not really about your knees, but they’re a good test of how things are going. In kizomba, unlike most other social dances, we step on an almost completely relaxed leg and then gradually shift our weight until it’s straight (don’t lock your knee!) I usually present my students with two visuals:

“Imagine you are stepping onto thin ice. You need to carefully place your weight gradually on it to be sure the ice will hold you before you can finally commit your weight completely. The next step you need to be just as careful of course!”

“We’re at the beach, down where the sand is wet. You’re stepping into the wet sand and sinking into it, but you have to be careful – there could be a crab claw or some broken glass buried just below the surface! So step carefully so you don’t impale your foot!”

You can check to see if you’re stepping on a relaxed leg by looking at yourself in profile in a mirror. If you’re stepping on a tense leg, commiting a certain percentage of your weight from the beginning, your knee will be very bent and your foot will probably be flexed. If you step on a relaxed leg, your knees will stay mostly right underneath you, softly bending and straightening.

Great start! Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to get moving across the floor using “The Two C’s”!