In conversation with Stone’s Rock (Bremen)

More and more Kizomba events arising faster and faster. Especially France, Spain, Italy and Germany are leading the list. More than 300 festivals are expected to take place in Europe in 2019. Individual parties are no longer countable. What often is missing is compliance with certain event rules and terminology. It is not uncommon for an event to be referred to as a festival, although it hardly has its structures. Bootcamps are designated, but turn out as normal workshops. Therefore, many event names are misleading. The possible disappointment of the participants may be great. In cooperation with Stone’s from Bremen we discussed the terminology and created an overview. Stone’s has been a trainer for many years and is on the road all over the world at festivals. As dance partner of Sabine Kolle from Kassel he is also involved in the organisation of the Xmas Gala Kassel. He can fall back on profound experience and has given us his opinion as a dancer.

Stone’s Rock (Bremen)

“There are event rules. I think it’s a pity that many organizers neglect the meaning of a term or don’t deal with the topic sufficiently. Many organizers organise events and mis-name or categorise them not correct, which leads to poor transparency for potential participants,” Stone’s says.

“Terms have a meaning. Where do we go if we ignore them? We all expect quality and as organizers we need to know about each event category in order to offer that quality,” Stone’s continues.

General definition of “event“:

In general, it is an event, an execution, a celebration, an event or an exhibition, often in the sporting or cultural field. It is also a gathering of people in a particular place. A distinction must be made between different categories of events such as a practice evening, party, workshop, boot camp, gala or festival.

Special event definitions in the dance area:

EXERCISE EVENING

Often organized by dance schools and dance teachers to provide a practice opportunity for students. A small dance circle that is held without a large program. A practice evening usually lasts 2-4 hours.

PARTY

Targeted meeting of participants. Sometimes a targeted audience. E.g.: dance party, Ü30 party etc. Content consists essentially of dancing. It does not matter whether it is a single party that is only held once or recurring parties, e.g. monthly dance parties on a certain date.

A BIG party only has more people, the content of the event does not change.

WORKSHOP

A training session. It generally takes place in a room with considerably fewer people than at a party. Registered participants deal theoretically and practically with a certain topic. The workshop is accompanied by a trainer or leader.

BOOTCAMP

Similar to a WORKSHOP, but even more intense and exhausting. A bootcamp also lasts longer (hours or days) than a workshop, deals intensively with a selected topic and requires more discipline. The term originally comes from the military field.

DANCE WEEKEND

An event whose goal is to dance as a priority at the weekend. It is a party that extends over the weekend. The weekend can be mixed with other activities according to taste (workshops, performances, etc.), but social dancing is in the foreground.

GALA

A gala is bigger and represents an event for a special occasion. Thus a gala is not an everyday event, but an event to celebrate a special “celebration”. A gala often lasts one day, but can also last several days. It is a noble/elegant event which is intended for a special audience. A gala is expected to be festive or elegant. At a dance gala usually various artistic performances are offered by professional or very experienced dancers/artists.

The dance, music and location quality and thus the atmosphere of the event is significantly higher than at the previously mentioned events. A gala does not necessarily need more guests than on a dance weekend, but a gala and thus the guests and the whole event holds a certain prestige and class. The audience is national and international.  Therefore suitable conditions such as hotels, catering companies etc. are required and fit the quality of the gala.

FESTIVAL

An event that lasts several days and celebrates something special. A festival is usually recurring and is held once a year. The planning often extends over a whole year. It is more international than any other event. Teachers and deejays are mostly from different countries and also the guests are more international at big festivals.

A festival usually has more guests than all other events and normally starts with 200 people and can grow up to several thousand. Prestige is not in the foreground, more the professionality of the whole event and acting artists. The teaching program is large and varied. Festivals are also often used as venues for competitions.

A festival also poses a logistical challenge. Among other things, artists and guests have to be entertained, shuttle services organised and the program perfectly planned in order to ensure smooth running. A festival offers various activities such as workshops, bootcamps, master classes or artistic performances such as shows. The invited artists must be renowned personalities and have charisma. This makes a festival special.

The participants should be offered an appropriate service such as convenient ticket purchase, hotel arrangements, directions and parking information, shuttle service hotel – location and much more. As a marginal offer for participants, shopping facilities for dance clothing or shoes, for example, will be organized.

Resume

There is a multitude of terms that are often neglected, especially by organizers in the field of events. Misleading descriptions of events can therefore lead to failure and above all, discontent among participants.

Events can be divided into different categories and are described above. Thus the sensitivity for this topic should grow and organizers should find a suitable categorization already before the publication of events.

Thank you Stone’s for your input.

JP & Stephy – the emerging Kizombastars. Their schedule is full, organizers must request more than one year in advance if they want to book them as teachers. What they have to say about Kizomba and their view of the scene can be found in our interview.

An interview by Silvia Stevens

 

What is Kizomba all about for you?

For us, Kizomba is all about connection. Connection is really important when you dance Kizomba and we think it is because of that connection, why all the people love Kizomba.

What do you consider most important when teaching Kizomba?

For us it’s strange that people often dance very technical. It is most important to master the basics. When you master the basics, you can play with it, do a lot of variations and really appreciate Kizomba. So, what we focus on are basics. Of course, you also need to master the musicality but it’s impossible to play with music, if you don’t master the basics. Only then the dance is comfortable for your partner. To be precise about basics: when you dance traditionell Kizomba, the basics are Ginga, Saidas, the basic steps and connection. In Urban Kiz, you don’t need Ginga, but basic movements and connection as well.

You created a fusion of Tango and Kizomba. Which dance did you learn first?

We learned first Kizomba, then Tango. In our fusion of the two dances we focus on Kizomba and add just a few elements of Tango. The objective is not to dance Tango and Kizomba at the same time, but to dance Kizomba with a different flavor, with some elements of Tango.

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You won competitions. Tell us about it!

Yes, we enjoy participating in competitions. We participated at the Urban Kiz competition in Lyon and in 2017 the Olympiades of Kizomba. We already participated in 2016 and we lost, but in 2017 we won two categories, the Urban Kiz category and the Sensual category. 2018 we participated again at the Olympiades of Kizomba and we won the sensual category and reached second place in the Urban Kiz category.

JP & Stephy Kizomba dancer. foto: JP & Stephy

Is it important for you to win competitions? Do you do it to be more famous?

Yes, we think it’s very important to win competitions. But more for our own development. If you compete you need to improve because of the pressure. Because we did it three times we always tried to do something different than in the previous year. Also, of course if you want to teach in the whole world you need to be well-known and the participation in competitions helps.

You dance a very special style of Kizomba and a lot of people love it. What or who inspired you?

For us, it’s important to be inspired by other teachers in the Kizomba scene. That’s why we are still taking classes, even if we are international teachers. If we like a teacher’s style, we want to learn it and we attend their classes. And we took a lot of Tango classes that allows us to make that fusion. And also in Tango, it was important for us to master the basics to find a good way to create that fusion between Urban Kiz and Tango.

You travel a lot! How can you arrange that with your private life?

We don’t have a ‘normal’ job, we live of Kizomba. It means a lot to us. For us it’s a gift and we are really happy to do what we do. And because of all the love people give us, we just try to improve all the time. At the end of the year we have two weeks’ vacation without Kizomba. Sometimes it’s important to relax and to do something else. Also, during the week it’s important to do something else. Kizomba is great but you need to have a normal life even if you are a teacher.

What makes a good Kizomba dancer in your opinion?

A good Kizomba dancer emphasizes the connection first. We don’t need complex movements. A good connection will be enough. Unfortunately, connection starts disappearing in the Kizomba Scene. Even if you dance Urban Kiz, really try to connect to your partner first, start with simple movements and then, if you feel that your partner can do more, you can start doing more movements. But connection needs to be there first.

What do you think about the development of Kizomba?

It’s important to respect what has been done first. For sure, the dance is evolving a lot and that’s normal because the music is developing as well. But you need to respect what has been done before, respect the teachers who were teaching before you and try to learn it. We don’t understand people who dance only Urban Kiz. We know it’s a bit difficult to learn Kizomba when you start with Urban, but just try to learn it and you will see the scene differently. It’s important to know and dance everything and not to be in separated worlds. Now it’s like two separated scenes, the traditional one and the Urban Kiz scene and they don’t see each other anymore. Before it was possible to do events in one location with all styles. Now you need always two rooms for two styles because people just don’t know how to dance both. It’s a pity.

What do you think, what do we need more in the Kizomba scene? What do we miss?

We need to change the way of teaching in the scene. We understand that people expect always new movements and steps in the workshops, but it’s not very useful for them to see a lot of new things if they can’t apply it correctly. What we need is to focus more on basic movements and variation. If we do this, people will enjoy dancing Kizomba a lot more because they will know how to dance Kizomba correctly.

Thank you JP&Stephy for this interview and we hope to see you soon again here in Germany!

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