At the 4th Kizomba Gala in Kassel, Vie and Sir J took the time to share their story, philosophy and view on the Kizomba world with us. Learn more in our article.

How Vie, Sir J and Kizomba got together

Vie started her dance career like so many in the Salsa world. For 10 years she taught Salsa in her own dance school in Brussels. When she separated from her partner 5 years ago, she closed the school and moved to Paris. She discovered Kizomba and taught it with another partner for a year, until she met Jimmy alias Sir J and fell in love with him. As a result, they moved in together and started giving Kizomba classes together. On weekdays, they teach in a dance school in a suburb of Paris, on weekends they teach at festivals. However, they limit their festival jobs to a monthly commitment, as both still pursue their main jobs. Vie works as a management assistant, Jimmy works in the IT industry.

Jimmy is originally from Martinique, where he spent his childhood. Zouk and Caribbean sounds have always been in his blood. “Kizomba,” he says, “is a mixture of Semba and Zouk.” Most people from his home country remain true to their Zouk. Jimmy however was open to learning something new and developed his enthusiasm for Kizomba, in which he recognized parts of his culture and music from his home country.

Jimmy always loved music. First, he started the Web Radio Station FWI Radio for Zouk, Caribbean and Dancehall music, which he managed from 2009 to 2012. He collaborated with 20 local DJs, who became well-known through his channel and thus he helped singers and DJs to start their international careers. Among them are KALASH, E SY KENNENGA, VJ LOU and DJ HALAN.

In 2011, he discovered Kizomba and learned from Mike Evans. “Kizomba is not just a dance for me. It’s my passion,” he says. “What I liked about Jimmy right away was that he incorporated his Caribbean style without losing the origin of Kizomba,” says Vie.

Vie & Sir J. foto: (c)A.Wittstruck

What distinguishes their style and what they want to convey

Their lessons are very in-depth, that’s important to them. They want the students to understand exactly how to lead properly and what the ladies should feel. It is especially important to them that their students find their own style. The dance should never be a copy of another person. “Sometimes you can tell who people learned from just by watching the dancers on the dance floor. That is not the point of dancing”. Their motto:

  1. Listen to the music
  2. Clear leading and following
  3. Develop your own style

“We love Kizomba and Kizomba Fusion. We do not teach Urban Kiz, but Classic Kizomba with our own touch.” Both attach great importance to musicality and less importance to many steps, routines or shows to impress others. “Kizomba is about the partner, the feeling, and not about many complicated moves. That’s what we try to convey in our workshops.” Nevertheless, they know that creativity in teaching is important, as many dancers always expect new steps and routines in the classes. At the same time, they do not want to lose their authenticity. “That’s not easy”, says Sir J. “We need to keep our balance in that. The music is changing and we also want to dance to everything and adapt to a certain degree. The DJs shape the scene with their music.” At the same time, he emphasizes the importance to master the basics. Kizomba is not about a choreography. It’s about proper leading. The leaders need to be able to lead not only in class but also on the dance floor.

The challenge of the rapid development of different styles

The dance and the music have developed rapidly in the recent years. Many new styles of music are appearing, which influence the dance itself. With all that complexity, Vie and Sir J consider it important that that dancers know the differences and adapt their dance style to the style of music. Unfortunately, many teachers today do not convey the differences, which can be confusing for beginners.
In their eyes, there is enough space for all styles and developments. The only danger is that the development is progressing too quickly and at the same time there is not enough education about the dance, which is a risk to lose the essence of Kizomba. “We try to explain as many basics as possible to our students in our workshops, e.g. smooth movements, dancing to the music or dancing small steps.”

Their prognosis of the scene

Vie and Sir J see the development somewhat critically. “At the moment, many people only see the opportunity to make money. Salsa has seen a similar development until the events saw less and less attendance due to an oversupply of events. Now many people understand the importance of cooperation. It will be similar in the Kizomba scene. Now there is a lot of competition and fights, everyone is trying to get a piece of the cake. The bubble will burst eventually and then only a few will continue and they will have to cooperate with each other. “

Tips for the Kizomba scene

  • Don’t forget the origins of the dance
  • Have a positive attitude, there is enough room for creativity, everyone can contribute with their style
  • Stay yourselves, you do not have to pull off a show
  • Teachers: be honest with the students

Vie and Sir J: a very likeable, down to earth couple with their hearts in the right place and a love for the origins of the dance that is seen less and less.

Vie and Sir J around the world:

  • Salsa Symposium Paris – 26.-29. October 2018
  • Xmas Gala Kassel – 13.-17. December 2018

I met Ronie Saleh for the second time at the Afromoves Kizomba Festival. He met me, all team members and guests with his very special nature, openness and warmth. He took the time and told me his story. Learn more in our article.

An Interview by Eva Fischer

Converting the weakness into a strength

Hard to believe, Ronie stuttered his entire life, already as a child. That’s why he was looking for a different way to express himself better: through dancing and singing. “If you can’t express yourself in words, you have to find another way. When I sang, I did not stutter. Singing and dancing were my therapy.” 

Already from the age of 9 he was singing on stage and later won singing and dancing competitions. What’s more, he taught himself dancing by watching videos.

The decision to follow his passion

Through his own therapy at a speech & language pathologist (SLP), he decided to study SLP himself. He wanted to help others as he was helped.

After graduating in 2014, he worked for a clinic and decided later on to open a clinic in Stockholm with three other people, a “stutter center”. It was the only center of its kind in the whole of Scandinavia and he was very successful with it. In the same year he discovered Kizomba in a Foxtrot workshop he attended. A bit later he attended one of Albir’s musicality workshops which caught his attention. He was enthusiastic and asked himself, “Why do I see myself standing there and teaching?” His biggest fear has always been having to speak in front of people. Later on, his dance school at the time offered him a job as a dance teacher for Kizomba, and he also started to teach a new style he created: FoxKiz (Modern Fox with Kizomba influences). During this time, he learned what it means to teach and applied his knowledge from the past, from other dances and also from the time as a SLP.

Ronie Saleh & brother at the 6th afromoves festival, Ludwigsburg

Ronie & Armanch workshop. foto: Photoart Eichin

The passion for dance grew and he decided to quit his SLP job. He took the full risk, gave up his material security, quit his apartment, sold his car and moved back to his parents to save money. At the time he was only booked for four events in Sweden.

He was successful very quickly. At each of these events, three people asked him if he wanted come to their events and like this his track record started. 2017, he was booked 47 out of 52 weekends and today, he is already pretty much fully booked until 2020.

Variations instead of long sequences of steps

He began to teach Kizomba only six months after he started learning it. Thus, at first, he did not know many steps and focused therefore only on variations of the same steps. It’s his talent to create many different variations of the same steps and that’s how he taught his students. He received a lot of positive feedback. Many dancers were able to realize this in their dance more than the usually long sequences of steps. From Ronie they learned instead how to vary short sequences to music. “I teach as I would like to be taught”.

The spiritual side of the dance

Kwenda’s Kaizen dance inspired him a lot. Kwenda is known for being a spiritual teacher, not for teaching many steps.

Ronie is aware of the importance of the connection between people. He is convinced that people do not come to class to learn many steps, they come primarily for the connection with each other.

Thus, spirituality became an important part of his classes as well. He takes his time and asks the students for example to look each other in the eye with full attention or to embrace each other attentively. “In the end we are all connected. In my lessons, I remind the students about it “.

His new project

Ronie Saleh. foto: imito

Ronie is traveling internationally, from Asia to Hawaii. Since he can be in these places only for a short time and the students asked him to see him more often, he decided to start a new project – online courses. By now, his new online courses can be downloaded at www.roniesaleh.com. These videos are meant to be complementary to his workshops at festivals and bootcamps, not a substitute.

He was looking forward to his new project and was excited because it is something new for him to teach through the camera. He explicitly asks for feedback so he can improve in his mission to create the best Kizomba online classes.

All in its proper time

His view on the development of the Kizomba scene: “Everything happens at its time and everything develops. There is nothing new under the sun. Everything is just new combinations. With our creativity we create new combinations, as well as in dance. We should stop criticizing each other if someone wants to do something new. “

He had to struggle with a lot with negativity from others, above all from other teachers in the scene. However, the feedback from the students is very positive, so didn’t let himself to be held back and continued. “Fusions and developments are natural! The students will always ask for the roots of the dance. They should learn from different teachers and make their experiences. The development itself is unstoppable. “

Ronie’s slogan: “Unleash Your Spirit”

“My biggest passion is to inspire others to become their best version”

His fears at young age greatly restricted him, so now he wants to fully unfold. He has learned not to be held back by his speech disorder and wants to inspire other people not to be disturbed or held back by obstacles or other people. “We are in this world only a short time. This is the school of life! Inspire people by who you are, so they dare to be themselves fully as well”. 

With his slogan “Unleash Your Sprit” and the logo of the two wings, he wants to symbolize just that. He wants to show people that they can surpass themselves. “If you want to pursue a passion, it takes time. And you need that time to become an expert at what you do, then people pay for your expertise. But most people are too scared. They want security and therefore do not become experts in their passions. You need courage to follow your passion.”

“Always remember: make the most of your time, make the most of your abilities and what you were born with. Unleash Your Spirit FULLY. Always choose love and compassion towards yourself and others instead of fear and self-doubt. Believe in your uniqueness. No one else is the same as you. Die original rather than a copy “

Ronie around the world

On his website www.roniesaleh.com you can find all the festivals where you can attend his workshops.

Ronie Saleh – an inspiring and thought-provoking person who manages to fill others with enthusiasm and emotions.

I met VersuS at the Black Forest Kizomba Days in Horb. The likeable Italian Kizomba dancers are known from several videos circulating on the net. One of the most well-known one is “Kizomba With a Statue”, in which Valentina dances as a statue with Stefano Marzioni.

Learn more about them in our interview! From Eva Fischer.

VersuS – the people behind the name

VersuS, these are Stefano Marzioni, Valentina and Sonia. The music and dance talent already began to dance in early childhood, at that time with a preference for Michael Jackson. During his dance career, he added Hip Hop, Reggaeton, Cuban Salsa, Salsa L.A. style and Bachata to his Michael Jackson style. In Italy he was especially known as an acrobatic salsa dancer.

Stefano dances with two dance partners, Valentina and Sonia. Valentina professionally dances Ballet, Modern and Contemporary, Latin-Jazz and Reggaeton. At the Black Forest Festival he was accompanied by his dance and significant other Sonia, who previously danced mostly Latin American dances. The three work together very harmoniously. Most of the time one of the two ladies accompanies him to festivals. They even plan a show for the three of them. The premiere will be performed at the Star Touch Festival in Corsica in June.

Both dancers study academic degrees: Sonia in Philosophy, Latin and Greek. She completed her studies in April and teaches at the high school. Valentina studies dentistry.

What is “Evo-Kiz”?

Stefano saw Kizomba for the first time in 2011 at a salsa festival. The dance immediately inspired him. At the same time, it triggered his creativity and he wondered how he could make his contribution to this dance. He learned classical Kizomba but wanted to bring in his own style. He started composing Kizomba music himself and added European sounds from R&B and Hip Hop. In his dance style he also incorporates various dances such as Hip Hop and the musicality from Contemporary. He called his own style “Evo-Kiz”, which can be compared to Urban-Kiz.
In 2016 he demonstrated his creativity. Together with his dance partner Valentina, he presented a show that was a mix of Michael Jackson and Kizomba moves at the Feeling Festival in Madrid. At that time, many critical voices were raised. Today, of course, different styles are mixed with Kizomba, especially in shows.

VersuS philosophy

Versus from Italy. Photo: Photoart Eichin

Stefano and Sonia desire openness and tolerance for new things. They themselves had learned Kizomba with many rules. Already today, there are many new things to discover and the new Kizomba style needs new rules. They plead for openness for the developments and the new influences. We should complain less and instead of trying to define what “real Kizomba” is and what not, we should dance more.

At the same time, they emphasize the importance of the basic steps, the essence of the dance. Despite all developments and all the novelties, the basics have to be danced properly, otherwise the dance would be completely lost.

VersuS around the world

Stefano is a multi-talented musician and dancer. He composes music for himself and other artists, teaches every day in Rome and weekends at festivals, is a choreographer, produces videos and has a YouTube channel with 16 million followers.

His goal: to dance around the world. He does not seem to be far from this goal. This year he is already fully booked and travels through Europe, Asia, Russia and America. You can find out where you can see VersuS on the VersuS facebook page under “Events”.

If someone can call himself a high-flyer, it’s him: DJ Narc6. For over a year he has been touring through Germany and Europe as a Kizomba DJ, with more than 50 bookings in 2017, his calendar for 2018 is already well filled until summer and he is already booked for several events in 2019. Narc6 told us in Frankfurt about the start of his career and his goals for the future.

Kick-off in January 2017

DJ Morelasoul & DJ Narc6. photo: unknown

In May 2016 Archi Roots gave him the first chance to deejay at the Kizombachata Festival in Bremen since Archi himself was responsible for the artist presentation. Previously, he’d worked as a Salsa DJ a few times before he discovered his passion for Kizomba. DJ Morelasoul, whom he met in September 2016 at the KizombaInvasion Part I, convinced him to become Kizomba DJ. “Also the KizInvasion team around Yaya Diallo, Ernest Tarracha and Franky KizzFly believed in me from the beginning.

His DJ career kicked off in January 2017 with the first booking at a party, where Enah gave a workshop in advance. Already in February 2017 he was booked as a DJ at the “Berlin Valentines Festival”. Since then he is traveling almost everywhere. At peak times, he deejays up to four times a week.

One DJ who inspires him most is Morelasoul. “…he inspired me to become a Kizomba DJ. His music is different and special.” Also some other DJs like Madiss, Saï Saï, Nice Life, Lenhy, Valet, Zay’X, Maximelody and Colts are among the DJs that impress him.

Photo: Photoart Eichin

“… I want to tell a story with my music.”

Narc6 still has his own style. “#Massage #Relax” and “Sky is no limit” are his slogans and are by now well known. He has an incomparable sense for music and knows exactly what his audience wants to hear. He creates the perfect mix of catchy beats so no dancer wants to stand still and soft gentle feel-good music that make you not want to let go of your dance partner to avoid disturbing the harmony. And it does not matter if he plays Urban Kiz or classic Kizomba. Narc6 likes both music styles. “I want to take people on a journey and tell a story with my music. No matter what style. It’s most important that people enjoy it.”

And that’s exactly what he does. Parties with him are always well attended, more and more organizers book him for events. He had over 50 bookings in 2017 and 2018 continues like this. Within a year he has gone from zero to one hundred. This is also due to the support of many friends. Mark Weber sponsored him the first professional controller (he had only a small one), so he was able to start at all. Victoria Dambach and Suzie Geisler have been very supportive with photos, advertising or recommendations. Also, Lamsca Sagnia is always a great support and a close friend to him. Sabine Kolle and Murmel + have recommended him for some festivals and parties such as “Frankfurt Festival” or “Afromoves”. “Support is important in the scene and I am very grateful to my friends, organizers and fans in Germany and now also abroad.

The journey continues

His journey as a Kizomba DJ has taken Narc6 already to Italy, the Netherlands, France and whole Germany. In 2018, even more European destinations are on the agenda. His favorite events included Viva Kizomba Congress, Afromoves Kizomba Festival and X-Mas Gala in Kassel, for all of which he has been booked in the meantime. His personal goal would be a booking at I’m your DJ Events, but with his steep career this should only be a matter of time.

In “normal” life, Narc6 is currently writing his master thesis in Information Technology in Munich. When asked if it is not exhausting to reconcile studies and deejaying, he just smiles. It already happened that he had to deejay at night, then drive to the campus at 6 o’clock to write an exam at 7:30 and then be on the turntables again at 1 pm. “Sometimes it’s hard to do both, but it’s manageable.” An absolute power program. He did not tell us his age, we got the same answer he gives everyone: “Old enough :-)”

Narc6′ success story is unrestrained and hopefully we can look forward to many more gigs with him. You can see on its Facebook page where you can see him in 2018 (click on -“Save the dates”).

In this sense #Massage #Relax

Cover photo: Suzie Geißler

DJ Narc6 schedule

I met Björn at a Kizomba trip to Portugal at the beginning of October, where he was a team member and a real asset to the group. Björn is the Kizomba pioneer in the far North of Germany, to be exact in Kiel. You can learn about his fascinating story and his views in our report.

His love for Kizomba and the desire to disseminate it

Björn has been dancing for a long time. In 2011 he attended a Bachata Festival in Hamburg. Due to the small number of participants, a course was spontaneously redesigned: the teachers should show different, unknown dances. One of these artists were Albir & Sara, who introduced Kizomba Basics. Björn was immediately on fire for this new dance.

At that time Kizomba was not danced and taught in Northern Germany. Björn, however, was so in love with the dance that he regularly met with the friends who had attended the same festival to practice the few steps they had learned. It was at the time when still only bit by bit, some individual Kizomba workshops were offered at other festivals and so shortly thereafter he was in Munich at the Bachatame-mucho Festival attending the Kizomba and Semba Workshop by Tony & Alena. After the workshop Björn spoke directly to Tony and thus laid the foundation for their further cooperation. This resulted in a friendship.

Back in Kiel, he convinced a salsa DJ to play 2-3 Kizomba songs every now and then so that he and his friends could dance Kizomba. Besides them, nobody was on the dance floor. He tried over and over again to introduce Kizomba into the salsa scene of Kiel, which initially didn’t cause much enthusiasm. But constant dripping wears away the stone and after a while, rejection turned into curiosity. In autumn 2012, he offered his first Kizomba beginner course – with 40 participants! At that time, he was only able to dance basics and only taught those steps.

His goal? To build a Kizomba scene in Kiel! His method? Start a Kizomba club (non-profit organization). He already had experience in this as he had already founded an Aikido club, a martial art he practiced for 20 years and has been teaching for 10 years. Through the club he stays independent. It is not about profit. He invites only artists, who he had personally met and who he respects. His focus is mainly on classic Kizomba. He invites artists like Kwenda Lima, Hélio Santos, Dasmara & Iolanda and of course Tony Gomes for his workshops. Since then, he has been teaching various levels on a weekly basis, including in Kiel University Sports and Flensburg. He was supported in his project mainly by Tony, who always encouraged him to pursue his dream.

The spiritual side of Kizomba

For Björn the right technique is especially important, which means smooth leading and controlling your own balance. Become “one” in the dance – respect the dance partner. Björn thinks more out of the elbow when he leads than from the hands.

Björn felt though that there is another level beyond the leading and the music. Nobody else seemed to understand that – until he saw an interview with Kwenda Lima who was talking about exactly this. Crazy as he is, he contacted Kwenda without further ado and flew to Lisbon to meet him. On his last evening, Kwenda invited him to his home. He gave him music and finally Björn had found someone with whom he could talk about the deeper level, the spiritual side of Kizomba. “It’s a way of expressing yourself and how you feel at the moment and sharing it with others. It is a way to build a true bond though the dance with the other and to actually perceive oneself and the other person on this level and to experience that we are all part of the whole”, recounts Björn from the conversation. Anyone who has experienced Kwenda’s Kaizen Dance knows what this is about. Björn felt confirmed and reinforced in his feelings and began to incorporate this spiritual and emotional side into his lessons.

Kizomba as active peace work

For Björn Kizomba is much more than dancing. It can be active peace work. We get in contact with other people and feel on a human and spiritual level that we are all ONE in the end. It promotes mutual care. “I can’t say that we need peace in Syria and at the same time be aggressive towards others myself. Peace begins in ourselves, then with the next and eventually across the entire community. First, I have to be in balance myself, then I can be in balance together. This is transferable to Kizomba. To move together through gentle touches and to dance together in a very soft and caring way.”

From this point of view, Björn respects all forms and developments of dance. Everything is great and the discussions are unnecessary. Depending on how we express ourselves in the dance, the feelings we have and what we convey to the partner at that moment, are different. The question is always, how do we connect with each other in the dance.

How we really develop

Harmony during the dance requires solid fundamentals. Unfortunately, in our society we are less and less willing to learn things in depth. Often people only scratch the surface, they quickly want something new and as many new steps as possible. However, often they forget to build a solid foundation and deep understanding. “Also a tree must first take roots before it can grow a trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. Create your roots first, the base of what you want to learn. Learn first to dance not just with your body, but also with your mind and your whole self, instead of wanting to reap the fruits without creating roots first.”
Here he uses his Aikido knowledge. In Aikido they speak of “Sho Shin Sha”, which means “in your mind, always stay a beginner.” We have to do 100,000 repetitions before something real comes up. “I feel like a beginner over and over again. I keep on discovering new things. You should never think ‘I can do that already.’

And what about the coffee?

For the last 2 years, Björn’s full-time profession is to be a Barista at the coffee roastery Loppokaffeexpress (https://www.loppokaffeeexpress.de/). With this, he pursues his third passion – coffee! What’s special about this roastery is that the bosses travel personally to the countries of origin, work directly with the local coffee farmers and pay fair prices. And here we find another connection to Kizomba: until the Civil War, Angola was one of the largest coffee producers world-wide. Due to the civil war, the coffee industry focused on other countries. OIKOS (http://www.oikos-berlin.de/), a development aid association in Berlin, supports a project to rebuild the coffee production in Angola and to produce coffee of high quality together with the local farmers. The Kiel roasting house could imagine supporting this project and maybe in a few years we will have high-quality coffee from Angola.

I truly enjoyed the cooperation with Björn in Portugal. His enthusiasm and perseverance in setting up the Kizomba scene in Northern Germany and his view on the dance are impressive, beautiful and thought-provoking. We wish you success and a lot of fun dancing, roasting coffee and doing Aikido

Tato, this is the first Kizomba Festival in Ecuador, and you (BK Baila Kizomba) and William Matos (Estilo Latino) initiated it. How did it all start?

William and I met one day at Mambo Cafe, a well known Salsateca here in Quito, and Kizomba came up as a topic. Both William and I teach Kizomba to students. We decided to form a joint group to perform shows. For us artists the economic aspect of things is always relevant, so when the idea of a Kizomba festival arose we had doubts if it had a chance to at least even out at zero cost. We risked it and gave ourselves four months to set everything up – organize the locations and get enough good teachers to fill a schedule of three days with classes, workshops and parties. The pool party was a late item on our list. We really wanted to offer a relaxing last day in a somewhat European style in a special, chilled location.

When all that was settled the last task was to find a meaningful name for the festival. We agreed on Kiz’Me because it’s about Kizomba and about us, the dancers. We want the dance and the feeling it provides to evolve in our country. In Ecuador and its neighboring countries there aren’t many teachers yet to push it. In our efforts we also reached out to neighboring countries like Colombia and Venezuela.

How did you learn about Kizomba, and what’s your motivation to help it become more popular in South America?

I met Albir Rojas in Panama, and I got very interested in his style. I also admire his way to help students to acquire skills and become confident in themselves. When Albir had gone to live in Spain and teach Kizomba I decided to learn this exciting, still little known dance from him there, so I went to Spain for two and a half years.

I enjoyed Kizomba and fell in love with this dance. In Kizomba I feel a deeper connection to my partner than in any other dance I know. My goal is to bring the dance here so people understand that there’s more than Salsa and Bachata, that we can do more than hit 1-2-3  5-6-7, that we can do our own figures at our own speed and rhythm, obviously respecting the basics of Kizomba.

Apart from sharing your passion with others – do you also have the opportunity in mind that emerges from being among the first to teach Kizomba around here?

Economical success is actually possible. 100% of my work life is dedicated to dancing. So obviously I’m not seeing it as a mere hobby. What moves me the most, though, is when I think about the people who will follow. I’d like to leave a legacy and know that the people I influence will carry the dance forward in the future.

How is Kizomba perceived by dancers in Latin America?

It is mainly perceived as something very sensual. Some people also say it’s sexual, but those are completely different things. There’s sexual and there’s sensual. People, especially people from the coast, enjoy the sensuality. Also, there’s some confusion, e.g. when some people describe Kizomba as a mixture between Bachata and Tango. I tell them that that’s not the case. It has its own base, its own rhythm, percussion, and pace. It’s not a mixture. It has its own origin in Africa.

Latinos see Kizomba as something very refreshing for the body, something lightening. People say “Wow, I feel so connected to my partner, so understood.” I think that in one or two years Kizomba will be heard a lot in Latin America. There are already great projects to promote it in Colombia and Argentina, and right now it’s being taken to Peru and Venezuela. We’re in contact, and I received really good feedback for supporting the genre here.

I experienced the festival as very personal, owing to your organization and the direct and friendly contact beforehand. Can you maybe give us some facts and numbers?

Including myself we were four teachers.

Tato Mendez (BK Baila Kizomba), Sol Perez (Kizomba y Barra), Johnny Uday (Salserios, Quenca) and William Mato (Venezuela). The “Allan Dee Dance Squad” will join us for the next festival.

33 participants signed up for the workshops. At the evening parties we counted 70-80 participants and around 20 people from staff and show dancers. The 100 persons filled the Mambo Cafe quite nicely.

Our main goal was to make Kizomba more known, not to make money. So the full pass for three days was priced $24, which just so covered our costs.

And everybody seemed to really enjoy themselves…

 

Absolutely! People where happy, touched. We received requests to please continue with the festival next year. The positive energy the teachers and staff radiated, the great experiences people were making, making new friendships, all of this was great and it gave the people a taste of the Kizomba culture.

I noted a difference between some Kizomba festivals in Europe and this. European Kizomba festivals are very focussed on Kizomba, often exclusive. You decided to mix Kizomba, Salsa and Bachata at the evening parties. What was the reason for your decision?

A while ago Quito was all about Salsa. Bachata didn’t find much resonance. All of a sudden it became a hype, and Bachata and Salsa ended up on a par. There’s a good chance that Kizomba will make it there, maybe even surpass Bachata’s popularity, but we can’t know.

For the festival we didn’t want to be exclusive, because we have a lot of Salseros and Bachata dancers who are still beginners at Kizomba. We’re all open towards each other.

Do you have plans for a next festival? Are there things you’d do differently?

Yes, there’ll be a next time, and it’s gonna happen beginning of August. What we will do differently? I’m thinking of spicing it up with a trip to the beach.

Until then we’ll have a Kizomba party here in November – themed “ángeles y demonios”.

Tato, it was a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for the interview.

Thank you and the people at kizzmag.com!

An interview by Klaus

More infos about Tato Mendez

I met Martina, the native bavarian from beautiful Chiemsee, at the KizombaInvasion in Frankfurt. She inspired me not only through her talent but also through her open and sincere nature. More about her journey to a meanwhile wellknown DJane in our interview.

 

First encounter with Kizomba

Music and dance in particular was her passion all along. She found especially music styles like R&B and House appealing, which is easy to recognize in her mixes. “It’s great to dance Kizomba to R&B songs“.

Her main job is at a health insurance company, a rather dry job. That’s why she always looked for surroundings that brought her close to music and dance in her free time. Faszinated by DJs at a young age she watched them with curious eyes. In her early 20s, she was working for a radio station as a side job. She took over the moderation and presented new music. Already two weeks after starting, she operated the sound mixer and was amazed.

2013 she discovered the partner dance for herself. Her talent did not remain unnoticed and her then dance teacher and very good friend started soon to train her in ballroom and latin dances. She learned a broad range of dances and started already in the same year to teach different dances together with her. Fascinated from Kizomba she started learning this dance in 2014 on numerous festivals and workshops and started teaching it together with her dance partner shortly thereafter. Under the name “Sensual Dancing Ladies” they even danced shows.

 

Her path to the DJ booth

Her personal selection of music in her classes were very well received by her students. Through her good network she regularly received new Kizomba Tracks from other DJs or the internet. Her students suggested her to deejay, a thought that was rather disconcerting to her at first.

As part of the drive to make Kizomba more well-known and to give her students the possibility to practice the dance, she contacted the dancelocation “Tanzwerk” at Lake Chiemsee. They already organized Salsa and Bachata evenings. Martina’s question if they can also play Kizomba music on their dance parties ended with her playing Kizomba together with Salsa and Bachata.

 

From amateur to pro

Driven by her motivation, without proper equipment and little knowledge she hurled herself into the adventure and deejayed only with her laptop and a free DJ program. “It was a catastrophe and impossible to mix music properly with it. I was basically just able to compile and play my songs.”

What happened to her is what happened to other pioneers. As soon as she played Kizomba, the guests just stood puzzled on the dancefloor and didn’t know what to do with this music, let alone how to dance to it. An empty dancefloor was the result.

She stayed persistent. Bravely she performed with her dance partner in order to wet their appetite – successfully. The result was growing interest and more and more people came to her classes to  learn Kizomba.

As a consequence, the scene was growing. 2014 the club “Tanzwerk” organized their first “Sensual Night” with mainly Kizomba and Bachata music, with her as DJane. It became a regular and well-attended party, that attracted my guests from Munich after word of mouth spread that she was deejaying there.

Beginning 2016 DJ Saul (Munich) asked her to cover for her in Munich’s “Hookahbar” when he had to travel. Already one week later she was called into action, with a cheap controller and consequently bad transitions. Nevertheless, the people liked her. She equipped herself with a better technology and gathered experience. “The mutual support amongst the DJs is great and I learned a lot from others and by just observing.

Ambition and passion paid off so quickly that she almost didn’t realize what happened to her. Already mid 2016 she was booked almost every weekend in southern Germany, as well as in Austria, Frankfurt and events like the KizombaInvasion Munich or Frankfurt and on Mulini Beach in Rovinj with DJ Paluxe. Furthermore she was co-organizer of the first Kizomba boat on beautiful lake Chiemsee.

Since beginning of 2017 you can hear Martina ever more in Frankfurt am Main. Her partner Sónia, who lives in Frankfurt, motivated her to move there. Sónia is well-known in the scene as taxi dancer (leader) and as organizer of the Kizomba Café in Frankfurt. In the meantime, they give Kizomba classes in Chiemgau (southern Germany) and Austria. At this point, Martina wants to thank her partner for her continuous support. Sónia accompanies her at every booking. „Without you this would not be possible – Thank you so much!”

 

A men’s world

When I asked her how it is to assert oneself as woman in this men’s world, she emphasized again the great mutual support and cooperation between DJs, organizers and taxidancers.

Unfortunately, a few patterns from the normal working world are reflected also here, e.g. when it comes to payments and gigs. There are still very few women in this field and many are not brave enough and don’t push forward enough.

It is striking how rarely female DJs are booked on festivals and bigger events. There are many festivals in Europe in the upcoming months and on the fewest events female DJs are invited. If DJanes are invited, they often play at off-peak times and smaller dancefloors. “I think that’s a shame”

 

The secret about her name

Her bavarian Nickname „Schneckal“ lead to her first artist name „KizSchneckal“ – in Bavaria understandable, in the rest of Germany rather odd. Therefore, she changed her name to “DJane AngelKizz” end of 2016 with the start of her gigs in Frankfurt which initially confused her fans. Today she is well-known under this name.

 

The secret of her success

„You need to pay attention and respond to the people’s mood. I can’t first put them into trance with soft sounds and then all of a sudden play a tarraxa song and break the mood. I always prepare well, but I never know before a gig what I will really end up playing. I first check the people’s mood and how they react to my music.” 

Martina really puts her heart into this. She loves what she can do with her music and she appreciates the chances that are given to her. She says that with all the rapid success it is important “to keep your feet on the ground”. “If you become well-known all of a sudden, it’s easy to become arrogant. But if we are very honest to ourselves, we are all comparatively small lights in this world.” 

Yes, we think you are right, Martina. And because you are how you are, your light shines especially bright.

 

 You can dance to DJane AngelKizz on these events in the upcoming months:

 

Regular fixed dates:

  • Kizomba Café Frankfurt
  • Kizomba Club Frankfurt
  • Tanzwerk in Chiemgau/ at lake Chiemsee
  • Circulo Munich
  • Dance school Conexión Frankfurt

 

Her own dance school, that was always Motsi Mabuse’s dream. She is well-known through the German dance show “Let’s dance” on RTL. On September 2nd 2017 her dream came true. She wanted Kizomba to be part of her offer and therefore she invited JD & Chrissi, two internationally well-known Kizomba artists, to be her partner. We met Motsi in her dance school in Eschborn (Frankfurt), took a look at the school and her offer and report about it in the following article.

Interview with Motsi

Motsi, you were an active Standard-Latin-dancer and you became famous far beyond the dance scene through the RTL show „Let’s dance“. What motivated you to open your own dance school?

It was always my goal. During our active dancing times we were on tour a lot, we performed or trained. But you don’t really earn a lot of money with this. I love the dance and made my passion my profession. Furthermore, I wanted a second mainstay.

How was your path to your own dance school? Were there any obstacles?

I started my active search four years ago. I had many problems to find the right space in Frankfurt that is suitable for all dance styles. That was very important for us as we worked for a long time on our current concept.

Next to the well-known ballroom and latin dances you offer also special courses like West Coast Swing or Urban Kiz. How did you come up with this idea?

I fell in love with the different dance styles. They are lots of fun!

What do you like most about Urban Kiz?

I love Urban Kiz! I danced it a few years ago in South Africa and already decided there that I absolutely want to teach it in our dance school.

Do you dance Kizomba yourself?

I’m a huge fan and I am learning, so… yes! J

For Urban Kiz you hired two internationally well-known external trainers. How did this cooperation start?

JD & Chrissi approached us when we started searching for dance teachers. I think they are both very likable and very good teachers.

Which regular Urban Kiz courses do you offer?

Every Tuesday from 7 – 8:30 p.m. a beginner class and from 8:30 – 10:00 p.m.m an advanced class. Unfortunately, JD & Chrissi can only come on Tuesdays that’s why our Kizomba night is always on Tuesdays.

You organize a monthly Kizomba Party with well-known DJs – what can we look forward to?

I always look forward to these parties in my school. Today on Halloween we invited DJ Narc6 and on November 28th DJ Lenhy from Paris.

 

Partyreview – Halloweenparty on October 31st 2017 with DJ Narc6

 

The dance school

Motsi Mabuse HalloweenSince September 2017 “Motsi Mabuse’s Taunus Tanzschule” is located on the 9th floor in the middle of an industrial area in Eschborn.  It offers a breath-taking 360° view onto Frankfurt and its surroundings. Especially at night, when the lights glow in the dark, you almost rather take a look out of the window than to focus on your dance. Two big wall mirrors, a great foyer with a big bar and seats as well as a cloakroom is offered by the dance school as well as their attention to detail. Thus the dance school was decorated entirely in Halloween style to create just the right mood. Just the high beverage prices were a bit shocking gut maybe not unusual for a big city. A cuba libre costs 7,50 € and a coce 3,10 €.

Workshop with JD & Chrissi

JD Chrissi Kizomba JD & Chrissi gave their Urban Kiz Workshop (open level) before the party from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. The participants brought very different skill levels, from beginner to advanced. The ratio was quite balanced with just a very small surplus of women. More than 50 people participated in the Workshop, before the official party with DJ began at 9:00 p.m..

Kizombaparty with DJ Narc6

More than 125 guests arrived from all over the place: Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Mannheim – even a dancer from East Frisia found her way to Motsi Mabuse‘s Kizomba Party. Narc6 played a diversified mix, from soft sounds up to harder Tarraxa-Beats he offered something for every taste. He has a knack for the audience and adapts his music accordingly. The atmosphere was very personal and jolly. A true feel-good program for the Kizomba soul. Even after the official end of the party at 1p.m. the people kept on dancing.

Our conclusion

A great dance school with a diverse offer and a set Kizomba program, lead with lots of love by Motsi and her husband Evgenij, who are both present at their parties. The location on the upper floor of a multi-storey building with the view over Frankfurt expresses a lot of charme. All thumbs up from our side. KizzMag looks forward to coming back.

Don’t miss it!  – the next events takes place on November 28th with DJ Lenhy from Paris.

Gallery

 

Party video

He is one of the old stagers in Germany when it comes to Kizomba. Music and dance are in his blood from childhood on and it was always part of his life. In 2010 he founded Germany’s first dance school offering exclusively Kizomba and ran quite a risk doing it since Kizomba was still quite unknown at that time. He gained acceptance, but it was a tough fight until today, as you can read hereafter…

His path to dancing

Tony Gomes und AlenaThe native Angolan danced already from childhood on as his mother – as opposed to his father – loved dancing passionately. He encountered the dance Salsa and learned the first steps through locally based Cuban soldiers who were supporting Angola at the time. Already at the age of 12 he danced Semba and Passada on a concert and impressed the local mayor with his talent. A stimulation for Tony to focus on dancing.

He learned especially Zouk which then incorporated Cap Verdean elements. This is how Kizomba slowly developed, which was danced to Zouk music though. The Kizomba at that time was played live. There were no electronic mixes at the time just like there were no mobile phones. Nevertheless, everybody knew when and where there was going to be a concert. Tony was working as a DJ already in Angola – the payment? A bottle of liqueur!

Kizomba in Germany

Kizomba appeared in Germany already in 1996. Tony already danced a lot during that time, Samba or even Lambada-shows amongst others and he was already well-known in dance schools at that time.

Tony was mainly as DJ in Stuttgart, in the so-called “Schützenhaus”, the “Jaba Daba Du” and other locations and put on Salsa music but always and on principle also Kizomba music, even if it was only 2-3 songs.  Even if in a room full of 800 party guests the dancefloor was immediately empty as soon as Kizomba was playing, Tony still insisted on his freedom and on presenting a piece of his home culture and music, although the people asked him not to play Kizomba. They liked the music but nobody knew how to dance to it. Tony had to deal with a lot of setbacks. By today he could fill a big book only with the complaints in diverse online forums about him playing Kizomba music.  Still, Tony staid persistent and kept on playing Kizomba music on his parties.

Germany’s first Kizomba school

Tony wanted to teach, he didn’t want to teach Salsa though. In October 1996 Tony dared his first try. He also taught Tae-Kwon-Do in Nürtingen (close to Stuttgart in Southern Germany) and he offered first courses in his „Afro-Southamerican dance school“. However the people were reserved when it came to Kizomba. “The dance was too close for them. This kind of proximity was not desired.” The interest grew with time and all of a sudden, the Kizomba boom started in Portugal. The Africa Dançar festivals started in 2007 and Tony joined them 2008 and 2009.

With his first dance partner Alena he pursued the goal to teach Kizomba in Germany. He wanted to build up a real teaching structure and to teach it comprehensively. He met Petchu in a club and asked him for help. Petchu supported him to create a course concept and how to teach Kizomba properly. In 2010 he founded „AfroMoves“ and together with Alena he built it piece by piece up. Alena was a very important part of AfroMoves because of her great organising ability and contributed a lot in creating AfroMoves. After five years she had to leave the school 2013 for health reasons. At this time, Justy was already Tony’s student and he began to teach her to become Alena’s successor. Privately they are a couple and they have a little son.

The AfroMoves Team grew over the years and consists of around 10 people by now. “I’m very proud of the team and thankful to be able work together with these great people”. He admits that he himself is not the specialist in organizing things. His profession and passion is the dance itself. That’s why he is very thankful that his team supports him in these things.  

AfroMoves‘ offers

Alongside the regular courses that go from beginner classes to the Master Club, Afromoves also consistently offers special workshops. To offer a possibility to dance and practice, they offer their so-called “KizZonntag” every Sunday in the bar “myemy” at Ufa-Palast in Stuttgart. There you can dance in a cozy party atmosphere and finish your week in an atmospheric set-up.

Every fourth Saturday of the month their big Kizomba-Party “Noit de Kizomba” takes place, usually also at “myemy”. This event series is one of the firmly established and bigger Kizomba-Parties in the greater area of Stuttgart with its changing guest DJs and free “Just-One” Workshops at the beginning.

Only recently, the so-called “The Gomes-Party” takes place every second Saturday of the month. By turns, Tony himself and his son Joany – who is likewise a professional dance teacher – pride themselves as DJs and ensure to offer diversified Kizomba music in Esslingen (close to Stuttgart, in the dance school SabroSalsa).

Furthermore, organized dance travels to Portugal in cooperation with viaDanza dance travels are part of AfroMoves’ repertoire. They take place twice a year in May and October and are comprised of special workshops combined with a holiday feeling.

The yearly AfroMoves Kizomba Festival mid-March ist he event highlight oft he dance school and will take place already for the 7th time in March 2018.

Discussion about traditional vs. Urban Kiz

Tony who is described as “traditional” Kizomba dance by most people explains to us that there is essentially no such thing as “traditional” Kizomba but that almost everything can be seen as fusion. Absolutely “traditional” is rather the solo dance, the couple dance on the contrary is fundamentally to be seen as a modern dance.  There were always developments in dances, especially in Kizomba and they should be accepted. “It was necessary to invent more steps in order to be able to present something interesting on stage. Many figures and steps exist only since the development as started. Kizomba is not a trend, it is culture.“  Of course  we shouldn’t forget the origins and the traditional beginnings, but we should also tolerate the developments.     

Tipps for all dancers

Don’t go for the figures and combinations right away. Develop a feeling for the music firstn

Value the basics – they are the foundation

Dance with different dance partners in order to become flexible in your dance

Try to dance to the music and develop your musicality

Women need to learn to let go

Women need to focus on following their partner, to feel what is being led

 

Tony Gomes is dancer with heart and soul. We thank him for the pleasant interview and the insight into his starting time as Kizomba teacher.

Ehemalige Tanzpartnerin Eva Fischer & Tony Gomes

An interview from Silke Wiedenhöft

Brass-band music, Portugal, Hip Hop, Paris, Kizomba – DJ Radikal is multifaceted, that’s for sure. Also his artist’s name “Radikal” is rather surprising when listening to his typically rather soft sounds. We met him on the „Noite de Kizomba“ in Stuttgart and unveil his versatility. We also found out how he ended up with his artists name “Radikal”.

His performance in Stuttgart

Kizomberos/as from Dortmund, Munich and of course from the wider area of Stuttgart found their sometimes quite long way to Stuttgart to the „Noite de Kizomba“ in order to see DJ Radikal life. With a pleasant mix of classical and modern Kizomba, he created a great mood and many hours of dancing pleasure. The guests thanked him with the appropriate applause. But Victor Silvestre wasn’t only convincing as DJ. He presented himself as a very humorous and interested person to his host Afromoves. Thus, he asked us a lot about the German culture and about Stuttgart over a hearty white sausage breakfast and accompanied by brass-band music. We were not allowed to film or mention that he swayed to the music (he has a reputation to lose). 😉

Hip Hop origins

DJ Radikal was born in 1974 in Paris as son of Portuguese parents. His roots are in the world of Hip Hop for which he has a great passion. 1997 Radikal decided to emigrate to South Portugal in order to trace his origins. He established his reputation in the Hip Hop scene as DJ, producer and concert promoter. Hence his artist name “Radikal”, inspired by the French Hip Hop magazine “Radikal”. He kept his artist name from that time when he decided to play Kizomba.

He discovered Kizomba, Kuduro and Semba in Portugal through friends who brought him to the African clubs. He was in a relationship with an Angolan woman and due to her listened to Kizomba music every day. In his circle of friends are many Angolans and Cap Verdians, which helped him to understand not only the Portuguese but also the lyrics of the Creole Kizomba songs.

Return to France

In 2013 when he returned to Paris, Kizomba was still relatively new in France which was his motivation to start mixing and deejaying Kizomba there. Ever since then you can’t imagine the Kizomba scene without Radikal. Everyone has at least one Radikal song in his repertoire.

Victor is not full-time DJ. Nevertheless, it’s a very time-consuming activity. It’s not only the time behind the DJ desk. You need to find new music, make new mixes and publish them and all of this in a very high quality. He invests several hours daily for this.

Critical points in the DJ scene

Victor is a bit critical about the current developments in the scene. Many “new” DJs play music for free or nearly nothing in order to become famous, to travel for free or to “be seen”. This leads to dropping prices. Therefore, the effort stands in no relation with the remuneration, especially if your focus is on quality. There must be a balance between passion for Kizomba and Business.

Also, the payment morality leaves a lot to be desired. Some organizers of big festivals (with high ticket prices and focus on masses) don’t want to pay (much) while organizers of small festivals often pay but make less money themselves.

„I can stand out from the crowd with my work“, says Radikal, especially with his mixes, surprises and novelties that he presents repeatedly. He chooses his music according to his gut feeling and own taste. Of course, he also pays attention to the guests’ wishes, but when a song does not trigger emotions in him, he doesn’t play it. “You need to bring across the personal passion”.

Developments in the music

After the foundation of Kizomba in Angola in the 90s, a lot of influence came from Cap Verde and more and more songs were sung in Creole. For a long time, it was seen as “music of the black” in Portugal. Just after the first Portuguese produced album, the boom started and white singers followed. Then Kizomba slopped over to Paris. Until then, there were no mixes, no Urban Kiz and hardly any teachers or DJs. All of this only started in the past years with the starting point France and nowadays whole Europe. This seems to be necessary though, since “the people always want new input”.

What you personally like is in the end a matter of taste. He sees the development of Kizomba as positive, interesting and versatile. There are many new styles and new creations. The expansion towards Asia and Latin-America grows and with this there will be again more innovations and developments.

Radikal: open, likeable, a man who can see things critical and open addresses them. Despite the Kizomba topics we found out a few personal details about DJ Radikal and we find he is a real asset to the Kizomba scene.

An interview from Eva Fischer