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5 Oct

Why You Should Dance Kizomba with Paciano

Besides the very obvious benefits of introducing social dancing into your life i.e. great exercise, there are many not so obvious benefits to dancing. Whatever the genre of dancing you prefer, dancing forces us to use all the different senses at our disposal and to explore them in ways we’ve never done before, and of course, it helps us foster good connections with others. We chat to Paciano Sinankwa, a professional Kizomba dance instructor, who introduces us to the world of Kizomba and shares his own journey as a dancer and instructor.

Although Kizomba as a dance and music genre is not widely known in South Africa, we understand dance well as a nation. Dance forms an integral part of the fabric of our pop culture. It is a lifestyle! We’re strongly connected to dance as a people and we’re extremely good at it, with many of our unique dance styles trending globally. 

However, most, if not all, our dancing styles are characterised by high energy footwork, body popping, grand gesturing etc. and individuals tend to dance alone – from pantsula, amapiano, bhenga to gqom. With Kizomba, dancing happens in pairs. Juxtaposed to our high energy moves; it is characterised by sensual hip movements and it follows a slow melodious rhythm with an attractive cadence reminiscent of African music. It is pure sensuality!

It’s a sticky dance that many of us, so used to doing the vosho alone, might find difficult to adjust to at first. The torsos of the dancers remains in contact for most of the dance and the man always commands the woman, directing her with his hand placed firmly on her back. 

Kizomba origins

It came to life in Angola, back in the 1980s/1990s and has its roots in zouk.  This is a Caribbean dance with a fast rhythm; a great mix of traditional kizomba music and semba (another form of Angolan dance/music).

Paciano grew up with Zouk music and through his Angolan and Mozambican friends, got exposed to Kizomba and has since never looked back. After finding a school that teaches Kizomba dance as an adult, he began to learn it formally.

“The passion for the dance and music has always been there and understanding the background and technicalities of the dance just made for a deeper connection to the music. I fostered that love by organising kizomba parties with friends in different places.”

He began teaching public classes for a kizomba school around 2015 and then in 2016 he started taking on private lesson students as well.

“I found this to be a more effective way to teach and for the students to learn. When Covid hit, all the public lessons stopped but I continued with some of the private one-on-one lessons under lockdown. I think the lockdown made most of us crave human connection even more. Once the restrictions were lifted I started to organise kizomba parties again as well as support other people salsa and kizomba parties.”

Paciano also shares that the journey has not been without its obstacles, “I am an entrepreneur and have been for many years as it hasn’t always been easy to find formal employment as a foreigner in South Africa, so one is forced to find independent ways of making a living. I have managed to create a small business out of the kizomba lessons and parties and have found that it has really helped to connect South Africans with the rest of the continent in a relaxed and enjoyable way.”

However, the journey has had its rewards as well, “I do think the main highlight has been the ability to create and maintain deep connections with some good people through the love of this dance and music and culture”.

5 Reasons you should learn Kizomba 

1. It’s a Great Stress Reliever!

Dance is generally a form of therapy, Kizomba even more so. Almost all that have learned kizomba refer to it as a stress relief tool. It offers an exhilarating experience that can have you forgetting your problems and relax a bit. It has a meditative effect that allows one to be and exist in the moment. Because our bodies release “happiness” hormones such as dopamine and serotonin when we dance, it helps destress us. Another hormone released is oxytocin, the “cuddle” hormone released from close human contact.

2. Helps Boost General Confidence and Improves Ability to Trust

The Kizomba dance allows you to be very confident in your role within the dance – whether your role is that of Follower or Leader. You learn how to be confident and secure in both aspects. The leader is taught how to give clear signals to his partner and the follower is taught how to interprete and follow different prompts while being self aware and unrestricted in her expression.  In your personal life, this might manifest as finally being able to talk to a large number of people, or taking the lead at work, or even trusting others to get the job done if you’re someone who struggles with letting go of control.

3. Fosters Deep Connection To Self and Others

There is a deep reflection on connection. Connection to your partner and connection to the music. Due to the spontaneity of the dance, a lot relies on how well connected you are. 

4. The Music Is Great!

Kizomba music is beautiful! You will fall in love with the different music within the genre. For those not familiar with the music, a simple Youtube search will have you falling in love in no time!

5. Helps Us Explore Our Feminine and Masculine Sides

We all have masculine and feminine aspects in our being. The dance helps us explore both in a subtle yet direct way. A rare opportunity. 

6. Gives You Access To Global Community

The bonus reason to learn Kizomba is that you instantly have access to a worldwide network of kizomba lovers from different walks of life that are brought together by a love of culture and music and dance. 

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