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How to dance Kizomba
Kizomba is originally from Angola. As with other Latin social dances, Kizomba combines elements of European ballroom dance with African dance movement and timing.
Kizomba is in 4/4 time - which means that there are four beats to every measure. The larger cycle in the music revolves around 4 measure cycles - ie: each measure has four beats, so when 4 of these measures pass, 16 beats will have passed.
In Kizomba, there are several basic steps - each with its own timing. In addition, in Kizomba there are a variety of dance moves that bring the dancers temporarily away from the basic step patterns. Part of the challenge of dancing Kizomba is for leader and follower to remain synchronized in their steps.
Basic Step Variation A
The most basic step in Kizomba is a side to side two step. It starts for the leader on the left foot and for the follower on the right. The leader steps to the side with the left foot, then brings the right foot together with the left in a tap (do not leave your weight on the right foot). Then the leader steps to the right with the right foot and brings the left foot together with the right for a tap step. The pattern then repeats. Each pattern takes one measure to complete - with a step or tap on each beat. The follower mirrors the leader with the opposite foot.
Basic Step Variation B
Variation B illustrates just how complicated Kizomba's basic step patterns are in comparison to other social dances. On the surface, the step is fairly simple: The leader begins by stepping forward with the left foot, then steps with full weight on the right foot (either forward or in place), and finally taps with the left foot without leaving any weight on it. Now for the second half of the step, the leader steps again with the left foot, but this time backwards, steps back with the right foot, and taps back with the left - repeating the initial forward pattern but this time back in the opposite direction. So the pattern consists of three steps in each direction. Each group of three steps begins with the same foot - for the leader the left foot. The follower mirrors with the opposite foot, and so always begins with the right foot. Each step and tap falls evenly on a beat, so the entire forward and back pattern (which consists of 6 steps) takes 6 beats. Here is where things get tricky. Kizomba has 4 beats to a measure, so the 6 beats do not complete 2 measures. If you begin this step pattern on beat 1, you will end it on beat 6 rather than beat 8. When you step again after completing a cycle of the pattern, you will be stepping on 7 rather than 1. The entire forward and back 6 step pattern must be repeated 4 times before it finally ends on 8. This complexity means that dancers must be particularly aware of their timing, or risk getting lost. When embarking on Basic Step Variation B, dancers must repeat the forward and back pattern 4 times before changing to a different step. Alternatively, dancers can use more complex footwork - cha cha steps etc - to transition to another pattern midway through a cycle.
Basic Step Variation C
This pattern is similar to B, but adds a syncopated (cha-cha) step between the 3rd & 4th, and 6th & 1st steps of each pattern. So the leader steps forward with the left foot on 1, steps with the right foot on 2, steps with the left foot on 3 (this time with full weight), steps with the right foot quickly on 3-and (the beat midway between 3 and 4), and then steps back with the left foot on 4, steps with the right foot on 5, and then steps with the left foot (full weight) on 6, with the right on 6-and, finally with the left forward on 7 - which begins the next repetition of the pattern. The follower mirrors with the opposite footwork.
Basic Step Variation D
This step is the most simple of all, but is usually used within more complicated patterns rather than on its own. It's a simple left, right, left right - just as in merengue. So the leader steps with the left foot on 1, with the right foot on 2, with the left foot on 3, with the right foot on 4, etc. The follower mirrors. This step can be combined with variation B or C so that the dancers can exit from variation B or C without completing a full 4 cycles.
These basic steps of Kizomba and are used as building blocks to construct complex patterns. The variety of basic steps and free-style of the more complex patterns make Kizomba a difficult dance to understand and follow. The videos on this page give examples of authentic Kizomba dance. The first video gives instructions for how to dance Kizomba in Portuguese. The other videos are of breathtaking Cape Verdean and Angolan dancers.