There is a fair amount of confusion when it comes to understanding what Kizomba is. It is important to know whether you are talking about the dance or the music, as there are terms which crossover, & this causes misunderstandings in discussions & learning.
What is Kizomba Music?
There is a variety of Kizomba music that share common roots. These different sounds of Kizomba fall under what is commonly known as the Kizomba Umbrella. Within this umbrella there is also a type of music called Kizomba (this is part of the reason it can be confusing). Kizomba music was created in the 1980’s. It is a fusion of traditional music that forms Kizomba, they are known as the 4 pillars of Kizomba – Semba from Angola, Kompa from Haiti, Caribbean Zouk from Martinique & Guadaloupe, & Coladeira from Cape Verde. The main feel of the most popular Classic Kizomba music is from Angola (a slowed & modified version of Semba music). However, as Kizomba is a fusion of different music types, the sound changes depending on where the musicians are from. This music is often referred to as “Kizomba”, “Traditional Kizomba”, or “Kizomba Classic”, as is the dance that you do to this style of music.
Due to the different amounts of these four main flavours, as well as contemporary influences, Kizomba genre music has many sounds & styles. Some of the sub-genres of the Kizomba music umbrella include Cabo Zouk, Cabo Love, Ghetto Zouk, Afro Zouk, Coladance, Tarraxa, Douceur, Urban Kiz, and Kizomba Remix.
As musicians emigrated from these aforementioned PALOP countries to Europe they were influenced by contemporary music (Pop, RnB, Hip Hop etc.). A new style of music was born, this music is known as Ghetto Zouk. You can dance Kizomba, Kiz Fusion or Urban Kiz to this music. Indeed Kiz Fusion & Urban Kiz evolved as dancers changed their Kizomba dance to suit the changes in this music. Dancers started playing with timing & body movement, while still maintaining the connection, & lead & follow aspects of Kizomba.
As the music was further influenced by RnB & Hip Hop etc. it continued to evolve. This is how Urban Kiz came to be danced mainly to Ghetto Zouk, Urban Kiz, Douceur & Tarraxa music. As this evolution continued & to avoid confusion when describing classes at festivals, the name of UrbanKiz was created. UrbanKiz, the dance, was created by Curtis Seldon.
What is Kizomba Dance?
The 3 main dance styles in the Kizomba Genre are: Kizomba, Kiz Fusion, & Urban Kiz. All three styles rely on connection & lead & follow principals. The beauty of all these styles comes from the flow & energy of this connection. This is the magic you can see & feel when you watch people dance.
Kizomba (aka Traditional Kizomba or Kizomba Classic) is the most physically connected of the 3 styles. It is a very grounded dance, with the ginga/flavour being created with each step being weighted into the ground with a flat foot. Kizomba is very cruisey & feels very relaxing & pleasurable.
Kizomba Fusion takes the connection, weight transfer & movement of Kizomba & adds something more. Dancers can play with the rhythm of the music & add new moves from other styles of dance, hence the name Kiz Fusion. Dances that people often fuse with Kizomba to create Kiz Fusion include Hip Hop, Semba, Bachata, Tango, & Salsa. It is still important to have the correct connection, weight transfer, & lead & follow technique for it to be Kiz Fusion, & not just “bad Kizomba” referred to by some as “Con Fusion”.
In Sydney most people dance Kiz Fusion as they have learnt different dance styles before learning Kizomba. Often the flavour, or some moves from these previous dances come through their Kizomba dancing, making it Kiz Fusion.
Urban Kiz was created by Curtis Seldon approximately 12 years ago in response to the continually evolving Ghetto Zouk music. Curtis fused Kizomba with his Hip Hop roots to express himself more fully to the music. Urban Kiz plays with the rhythm & highlights in the music.
As Curtis first danced Kizomba & Semba, the Kizomba basic moves are the same, and are danced physically connected. However Urban Kiz uses different weight transfer, so they look & feel different. Connection is still king in this dance & the flow of the energy between the dancers is just as important, albeit with a different feel to Kizomba Fusion & Kizomba.
Curtis defines the 3 main characteristics of Urban Kiz (in relation to Kizomba) as the Dance Lines (the cross), Distance, & Weight Transfer. These are the fundamentals of Urban Kiz, & once you have mastered this, your own style can be layered on top to create different looks & feels.
The music is the most important factor in deciding whether to dance Kizomba, Kizomba Fusion or Urban Kiz (or some other dance such as Tarraxa, or Tarraxo). Particular music should give you the flow or energy to dance in a particular style. This is why knowledge of the different music types & different dances is important.
When starting to dance (any of these styles) the leader should start by connecting to the ground, then the music, then their partner. The follower connects to their partner, then the ground, & the music. This helps to balance the energy between the two dancers & creates the flow that is the magic of the dance.