Yeah, I’m taking this on. So, why does kizomba seem easy?
1. Kizomba music is extremely accessible. There’s plenty of remixes of popular songs or tracks that sound like R&B, and the beat is clear and undeniable.
2. Kizomba dancing is simple to get into. In an hour or two you can get enough understanding of movement and basic steps to dance through an entire night.
3. Kizomba is focused on the feeling and musical interpretation with your partner. On the social floor, it’s very much accepted to do simple steps, and you don’t need to worry about showing off.
The thing is, those points are just the tip of the iceberg.
In fact, let me extend that metaphor. Let’s say learning salsa is like a mountain. There’s a huge base of essentials you need in order to dance proficiently. If you didn’t grow up with it, the music seems impossibly complex. A month of classes might have you doing the steps to the right count with some basic leading and following, but there are so many partnered positions and so many parts of the body that have to be placed correctly. You have to learn how to turn rapidly. You have to learn to coordinate hips and shoulders. You also have to learn vocabulary or routines to use when dancing in breakaway. You compare yourself to the professionals and think their level is utterly unattainable.
With kizomba, many people just see the surface, that exposed part of the iceberg floating on the water. When watching people in the kizomba room at a salsa festival, you might think “Wow, they’re barely doing anything. So relaxing. Great way to cool off from the salsa room.” You take a class or two, and can enjoy connecting with a partner and dancing in a fairly musical way with your basics.
But for those of us that are enthusiasts, addicts, true kizomba-lovers – the journey to mastery is just beginning. Kizomba has so much subtlety, and so many intricate possibilities. The iceberg is a mountain with the bulk of its mass hidden. It takes time to dive below the surface and explore.
Ground your movement and find the right alignment with your partner, and you begin to feel their every tiny isolation. Figure out pivot technique and every move you know can suddenly be opened to variations in position. Work on slow-motion, stop motion, and syncopation, and again the standards become almost unrecognizably new, and your feet can dance out the exact rhythms of a particular instrument. Dissociate your upper and lower body, your feet from your partners’ – This list could go on and on and on
As with any dance, the more you learn, the better you are able to appreciate the subtle differences that set the best apart. In kizomba, each technique mastered is like an additional color palette for you to paint with, another supply kit for you to build from, another door to a realm of expressing the music with our bodies. That complexity is felt and perceived mostly by the person with whom you are creating your dance, though – the folks on the outside can see little of kizomba’s depths.