I dance for me!

Benjamim Nande: “Music that cathes your ear and dance that cathes your soul”


Get in touch with kizomba and become “kizombeiro” says Benjamim Nande, Portugese kizomba dancer, teacher and choreographer, who has developed a very easy step-by-step method of learning basic steps and progressing quickly. You can easily check how this method works on a second Kizomba and Salsa LA festival in Belgrade, where Benjamim is returning next month. The event is on between 7th and 8th of February, and will present kizomba, salsa and bachata lessons. The best thing is, that this is a REALLY affordable seminar – full pass from only 20€ on. (ok a little publicity, but you don’t see such affordable thing every day, now do you) 🙂
I am very happy that Benjamim agreed to an interview and by that presented the magical kizomba to all of us, who have not tried this dance before.

1. Benjamim, I’m very happy you agreed to do this interview. Especially because where I live, kizomba is still far from being popular. We don’t do kizomba in Slovenia yet, so for starters, please explain the beauty of this style of dance!
Hello Irena! I am also very glad that you gave me this opportunity to bring a little bit of this world to Slovenia!
Kizomba is an African rhythm. It was born in Angola during the late 70s. Kizomba is in fact  the result of an evolution: young generations, listening to traditional rhythms, felt something was missing – a modern and sensual touch. Adding an electronic percussion with a slow and extremely sensual rhythm… kizomba was born. The description that suits kizomba the best in my opinion is the following: A music that catches your ear and a dance that catches your soul. 

2. When I watch kizomba it seems so smooth, reminds me a bit on foxtrot. Do you consider it as a very intimate dance (like some people classify bachata) or do you think it’s more social thing like salsa?
I believe that there is a misunderstanding in this concepts. An intimate dance can also be a social dance. Kizomba is a very intimate dance! But it is also a very social dance! That is the beauty of dancing – the intimacy starts with the music and ends with the music. You can dance kizomba with anybody in a intimate way – dancing is about enjoying the moment, the music and let it flow between you and your partner.

3. Where are the origins of this dance?
It is always difficult to identify the precise origins of a dance or music, but most of kizomba comes from traditional dances like semba or even morna. It was then developed and evolved on its own.

4. When did you first start dancing it and what drew you into it?
I am also a salsa dancer. In Portugal all salsa nights have kizomba too. There I heard my first kizomba and did not find it very appealing… Then a friend invited me to dance – she showed me the basic step. I fell immediately in love with the dance and with the music. Dancing kizomba is a unique experience – standing really close together, partners move in sensual wavy movement, where leading and being led finds a new dimension.
That is why every time someone asks me questions about kizomba, I answer “Just try it!”.

Kizomba is strictly an african dance – close to your partner, low gravity centre and very small and sensual movements. 
Nowadays, dances are also an effect of globalization – I have met zouk dancers that love kizomba and have transformed their zouk in a kizomba-way. I have met many kizomba dancers that are being influenced (sometimes too much) by tango or bachata, therefore drifting a bit away from the origins.

5. In february you are returning to Belgrade, to teach kizomba on 2nd seminar of kizomba and salsa. How was the first time?
It was fantastic! Every time I travel abroad to teach a first kizomba seminar, I see the glow in student’s eyes after the first hour… Kizomba always exceeds what they are expecting. Belgrade was no exception.  And I am sure all new students in this 2nd seminar will have the same glow in their eyes.

6. I heard people are liking kizomba in Belgrade, your friend Jasna has regular classes there now… do you expect a big improvement from last festival?
Definitely. From my experience from other countries, kizomba is like a virus! Once it gets to a place, it spreads fast and deep! The main advantage that kizomba has over other rhythms (like salsa) is that it is extremely easy to start dancing. Anyone can dance and enjoy this dance after a first seminar, which is usually not true to most of the dances.

Source of all images: http://www.kizombadance.com
7. What were your impressions after that festival?

During the festival I met hundreds of dancers eager for information and eager to learn new tendencies and exchange points of view. I believe Serbia in general and Belgrade in particular have a lot of potential – it is up to the dance schools and to people like Jasna who have the mechanisms to offer more and more quality festivals and seminars.

8. Why do you think it takes so long before kizomba touches people and makes them start dancing it?
It doesn’t. It’s nearly immediate. What is taking long is getting in touch with kizomba! As soon as you hear it and experience it, the connection is there. Nevertheless, in the past 3 years, kizomba is being more and more present all over the world. Do you know that there are people using my method from Venezuela to Australia?

9. Is it as addictive as salsa?
I think it is even more addictive than salsa. Specially because, as I explained before, it is easy to start dancing. All salseros surely remember how long it took in the beginning for them to feel comfortable dancing at night. It is wonderful to dance salsa, and the music is marvellous, but it takes time for one to get into it. If you take kizomba lessons in one seminar you can immediately start enjoying… Then of course you can also evolve. This is unbeatable… 

10. How does a kizomba party look like?
Music that catches your ear and a dance that catches your soul…

11. Can you explain the difference between zouk and kizomba?
Well, the music is quite similar, though zouk comes from the French Antilles islands, while kizomba comes from Angola. One easy way to recognize the difference is that nearly all zouk is sang in French, while kizomba is criollo (african dialect). It is not 100% true, but it’s an easy way to start. 
The dance itself is very different. Zouk is danced in a very wavy and circular movement – presently zouk dance is being a lot influenced by Brazilian traditional dances so it is getting more and more merged with lambada and samba.

12. Many people say kizomba makes them feel even better than salsa. How would you comment that?
I will never reduce the importance of salsa, as I absolutely love to dance to it. But it is a fact that kizomba is impossible not to fall in love with. A sensual music, a very easy and extremely sensual dance. The music starts and you can just close your eyes, holding your partner in your arms, and be carried away by this unique sensation…

13. Can you give out a message to our salsa dancers who don’t know kizomba yet and maybe inspire them to start doing it by that? 

Of course: PLEASE DON’T DANCE KIZOMBA! It is a very sensual dance with an unique feeling of intimacy; everyone who tries it gets immediately addicted to the music and the sensual and rich body movements. It’s a virus that gets in your system and fills you up with happiness and energy… SO, RUN AWAY! DON’T TRY IT!

🙂 Hehe… Thank you Benjamim for the answers and see you in Belgrade. 
Don’t forget 2nd Kizomba and salsa seminar in Belgrade, 7. – 8. 2. 2009!! Check the official website of the seminar.