Guest Author - Dawn Denton
Traditionally, dance is linked to culture, ethnicity, history and religion. It is often used to make a statement, such as in the preparation for war and other ceremonial or celebratory gatherings, for example for weddings and the coming of age. Today many dance styles have modernized to be enjoyed for the sheer pleasure of participation by all ages in night clubs and community halls around the world.
Kizomba, the sensual, romantic African rhythm originated in the Angolan capital of Luanda. It was first mentioned in an American Geographical Society bulletin in 1894 and has since adapted and evolved to include dance styles of especially the 1950s and 1960s. The tango, which arrived in Angola from Europe played a large role in creating the smooth kizomba style of today. Aspects of the samba (a predecessor of samba) can also be identified in the dance steps. By the early 1980s the dance had its own identity and the accompanying music was becoming more popular.
Early songs used for the kizomba dance were in Kimbundu, a prominent Angolan language. Today the songs are sung mostly in Portuguese, as Angola was a Portuguese colony. The music is catchy and the beat is important to create the union of the dancers. The accompanying music has become a style in itself and can be heard in night clubs and dance clubs in Angola, Lisbon and now in Europe and the United States.
Kizomba is popular with so many people because is it mostly participatory and there are no barriers between participants and spectators. It is mostly danced with a partner, who is kept close, but not tight and the leading technique is unique. It connects people and brings all ages together.
Modern and often harsher adaptations of the kizomba dance style have been included by the lusophone (of Portuguese origin or Portuguese speaking) communities around the world. But the slow, sensual rhythm has remained the main feature of this African dance and for this reason some believe the energy and passion of kizomba has played a role in Angola having one of the world’s highest birth rates.