World Dances to Angola’s Tune

“Two dances from Angola are becoming unexpectedly popular around the world.” by Lula Ahrens, published on magazine Universo.

Original article: http://universo-magazine.com/digital/Universo_42_-_June_2014_E/

Kizomba Dancers

Kizomba dancing on the streets of Luanda: enthusiasts dance at sunset on Luanda Bay every Sunday

Angola’s semba and kizomba dances are seeing a surge in popular demand at home and a tremendous breakthrough worldwide. The country’s top dancers are excited, but are also worried about a loss of the dance’s Angolan ginga, or authentic natural movement, when performed outside their national borders.

Every Sunday after 5pm, semba and kizomba enthusiasts meet at a small square on Luanda Bay to dance all the way through Luanda’s magical sunset. A group of regular and new admirers gathers each time to watch.

Kizomba dancers in Luanda

Kizomba dancers in the streets of Luanda

Dance teacher and oil reservoir geophysicist Paulo dos Reis, created Kizomba na Rua ‘Kizomba in the Street’ in December 2012. Interestingly the event was a replica of one in Europe. Dos Reis got the idea from a Cape Verdean friend, Adilson Rodrigues, who set up ‘Kizomba in the Street’ in Paris on the banks of the river Seine.

Semba and kizomba have quickly gone global. “Six years ago, one could only find foreign dancing competitions – salsa, tango, house, and so forth in Angola. Now, it’s the other way around; Angolan kizomba and semba form part of the international dance scene. We have taken them onto the big stage,” Mukano Charles told Universo.

Charles is the ‘godfather’ of Angola’s very own International Kizomba Contest, which he started in 2009. Every year, the two contest finalists go on to represent Angola at the international competition África Dançar (Africa Dancing) in Portugal, which opens the doors to other dance opportunities around the world.

Kizomba dancers in Luanda

Kizomba dancers in the streets of Luanda

In Angola itself, semba and kizomba are also seeing a rapid increase in popularity. “Our country is growing. More and more young people are taking an interest in dancing. Unlike in the past, we now regard semba and kizomba as an art. They run through every Angolan’s veins,” said Charles.

As well as Portugal, the countries in which these native dances are most popular include Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, Brazil and the territory of Macau (all former Portuguese colonies).

However, since around 2010, they have been also stealing the show in Belgium, the United States, Australia, Spain, Poland, France, Hungary, UK, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, SLovenia and Serbia. It is an exciting development, but with some downsides as well.

“We Angolans dance naturally,” award-winning Angolan dancer Bonifácio Aurio explained. “Eropeans tend to ‘mechanise’ the rhythms, because they don’t learn and listen to the music in its natural context. Foreigners take a workshop and then call themselves a ‘dancing instructor’, which in the West is a lucrative profession. Outside our borders, these types of low-quality ‘teachers’ spread like a virus.”

“Our dances are misinterpreted abroad, and turned into a type of tango or salsa due to lack of information,” Mukano Charles told Universo. “We need to respect the Angolan ginga of semba and kizomba. The Angolan contest finalists do that by bringing the dances’ true nature to the four corners of the world.”

Semba

Semba has been popular in Angola since the 1950s. The word semba originates in Angolan indigenous language Kimbundu and derives from masemba, which means a ‘touching of the bellies’ – a characteristic semba dance move.

Semba music was strongly influenced by the ancient Kingdom of Kongo and central Angola’s Bantu people. Centuries later, it underwent further transformation as Angola became more urban and music developed in line with new Western technology. Traditionally, semba songs are sung in Kimbundu, and sometimes other national languages such as Umbundu and Kikongo. Modern tunes are in Portuguese.

Lyrics often tell a cautionary tale day-to-day life, usually in witty manner. During the Angolan War of Independence (1961-75), semba songs focused mainly on Angola’s fight for freedom. The versatility of this dance music is evident in its inevitable presence at both Angolan funerals and parties.

Several new Angolan semba artists have broken through each year, rendering homage to the veteran masters, many of them who are still performing. The legendary band Ngola Ritmos has contributed enormously to the spread of this music. Barceló de Carvalho, the singer known as Bonga, is one of the most successful and best-known Angolan artists to popularise semba internationally. Other icons include Liceu Vieira Dias, Domingos Van-Dúnem, Mário da Silva Araújo, Manuel dos Passos and Nino Ndongo.

Tango Influences

Portuguese colonisers brought over a broad range of European and other dances to Angola, and these soon mixed with traditional local dances. These included the Argentinean tango. Tango incluences appear in both semba and kizomba. Curiosuly, the tango originally developed under the strong influence of Africans, most of them – again – from the Kingdom of Kongo, who where taken to South America as slaves.

Kizomba and Tarraxinha

Kizomba dancers in Luanda

Kizomba dancers in the streets of Luanda

Semba is the precursor of various music and dance styles including Angolan kuduro, Brazilian samba and Angolan kizomba. The name kizomba these days is confusingly used to describe both semba and kizomba.

In Angola in the 1950s, the Kimbundu expression kizombada referred to a party. After Angolan independence in 1975, zouk music from the French Antilles became popular in Luanda. It mixed with semba to form kizomba in the 1980s.

Angola’s SOS Band spurred this development. Former band member Eduardo Paim, regarded as one of the founders of the kizomba genre, moved to Portugal in the 1980s, taking the music with him.

Kizomba, in turn, gave rise to Angola’s most explicitly sensual or even sexual genre, tarraxinha. Tarraxinha is danced within both semba and kizomba on the music’s slow intermezzos, but has developed into a genre of its own.

“Tarraxinha is the baby, kizomba is the mother and semba is the father,” according to Bonifácio Aurio. “In Angola, we don’t take tarraxinha very seriously. In Europe, they do.”

Kizomba dancers in Luanda

Kizomba dancers in the streets of Luanda


Dominant Male

So what is so beautiful and enchanting about Angolan semba and kizomba?

“The connection!” exclaimed Paulo dos Reis. “The possibility to talk without speaking, to lead and follow, without one being superior over the other. When the woman understands my every little signal, and it just flows… that’s too beautiful.”

There is, however, a clear difference between the male and female roles in both dances. The man not only leads, he is also the creative brain and by far the more active of the two. “Semba and kizomba are most difficult for men to learn,” Aurio said. “The man is the ‘fighter’, he performs and creates most tricks and has to develop his own style and charisma.”

Dancing King

Bonifácio Aurio won Angola’s International Kizomba Contest and Lisbon’s ÁfricaDançar in 2012, together with his former dancing partner Conceição Matauia. This year, he is one of the contest’s jury members.

To reach a high level as a male performer takes time, effort, talent and enthusiasm, he explained. “I started dancing kuduro as a child. Semba was very mysterious to me, I used to watch it a lot. One day when I was 10, my mum put me on her feet. That’s how she taught me to dance. To this day semba is my favourite dance alongside Afro house. I danced everywhere I could, the took semba, kizomba and other lessons every day for four years at a well-known local dancing school called Kandengues Unidos. In 2009 I became a teacher at the school.”

While semba and kizomba have become a lucrative business in the rest of the world, Angolan teachers still face a lack of opportunities at home. Mukano Cahrles, Paulo dos Reis and Bonifácio Aurio all agree that Angola is in dire need of professional dancing schools.

Aurio moved to Portugal in May 2013 to study International Relations and give dancing classes. “In Angola, I don’t see a long-term professional future for myself as a dancer. There is a lack of opportunities – professionally speaking, it is an underdeveloped area. Angola desperately needs a professional dance academy, also for our traditional, regional dances. Our country has many talented dancers, so I believe that day will come.”

A Brief History of Kizomba as Musical Genre

The role of Semba and Zouk in the genesis of Kizomba

A brief history of the evolution of a music genre originating in Massemba by Prof. Jomo Fortunato.

Evolution of Kizomba as musical genre

The evolution of Kizomba as musical genre


According to Prof. Jomo Fortunato, a renowned Angolan historian, the oldest references to the word semba, absent from missionaries’ dictionaries published between 1591 and 1805, first appeared in 1880 in the book “Os sertões d’África: Apontamentos de Viagem” by Alfredo de Sarmento, a writer associated with colonial literature, and later in the novel “Nga Mutúri”, by writer and journalist Alfredo Troni, published for the first time as newspaper serials in the year 1882.

“A batuque consists of a circle formed by dancers, where a black person goes into the middle, and after performing a few steps, gives the person of his choice a belly-bump, known as a semba, who then goes into the middle of the circle to replace him”, wrote Alfredo de Sarmento in his travel book.

In turn, Alfredo Troni, an intellectual with the greatest knowledge of Luanda culture, describes a batuque in Luanda, at the house of “Nga Mutúri”, as follows: “It was a spoken batuque… There was a knock on the door at midnight and in came Serra, who had just arrived from Casengo, in Cunga. Nga Mutúri was delighted and returned the two sembas Serra had given him.”

Both according to Alfredo Sarmento and Alfredo Troni, the word “semba” preserves the meaning of “umbigada”, regarded as a metaphor for sexual intercourse and highly criticised by the more conservative segments of colonial society. Furthermore, Alfredo Troni illustrates the dance environment and the “spoken batuque”, vital to the contextualisation of “Massemba”, the rhythmic basis of which lies in the semba we know today.

Massemba

Massemba, a popular “belly” dance executed by pairs of dancers, is the plural of semba, the name which came to be given to the most representative musical genre from the Luanda region. Danced in the street on free afternoons and on moonlit nights, massemba, progressed to the graceful guitars of Liceu Vieira Dias, José Maria and Nino Ndongo, giving rise to semba. Massemba was referred to by the Portuguese name of Rebita when it began to be played in dance halls, where it was backed up by the accordion and the concertina.

The process involving the of massemba and rhythms of kazukuta to the guitar, a type of accelerated massemba, gave rise to the “wild batida” of Liceu Vieira Dias and semba in the form of the innovatory proposals of José Maria and Nino Ndongo, in their most varied known rhythms.

Semba

Semba, in the rhythm of José Maria and Nino Ndongo, came to be adopted by important later guitarists such as José Keno from Jovens do Prenda, who admits to having been influenced by the music of Ngola Ritmos, Duia, from Gingas, Marito Arcanjo, in the song “Rosa Rosé” by Kiezos, Botto Trindade, from Bongos, who inherited the rhythm of Ngola Ritmos through Carlitos Vieira Dias, Manuel Marinheiro from África Ritmos, Mingo, from Jovens do Prenda, and Quental, from the group Águias Reais.

Foreign Influences

The influx of Angolan instrumentalists to urban areas and the evolution of western musical technology had an influence on the rhythmic structure of the sound of semba. Groups which used acoustic guitars, dikanzas, snare drums and shakers in their early days began to introduce electric and electrified instruments. An interesting phenomenon occurred with the group Africa Show, the first Angolan musical band to successfully introduce the organ, representing an aesthetic posture which was different and more geared to the demands of an urban audience, which followed equally the evolution of European and American music.

Kizomba

As a result of the closure of the main recording studios after the independence of Angola in 1975, “zouk” began to take over at parties (kizomba), and the majority of Luanda´s radio stations played this type of music. A rhythmic mixture of semba and zouk, kizomba became young people´s music of choice in the 1980s.
Although a branch off of the lyric writing techniques of Paulo Flores and of the use of Ruca Van-Dúnem´s synthesizers, Eduardo Paím is regarded as one of the founders of the kizomba genre.
It should be reiterated that the musical projects Kijila I, II and III, the result of Eduardo Paim, Ruca Van-Dúnem, Ricardo Abreu and Luandino having met up in Portugal, can be regarded as a milestone in the creation of the rhythmic structure of the kizomba genre.

Merit

Carlos Burity´s last albums are intended to enhance the musical tradition of semba, singing in the major domestic languages, playing instruments associated with classical music, the violin in “Makamba”, from the CD “Uanga” (1998), including rhythmic segments from contemporary and universal musical aesthetics, pop music , funk and hip-hop. Owner of an extensive discography, Carlos Burity has created his works as a composer and performer of multiple vocal and artistic resources. We may therefore conclude that semba arose from the belly dance massemba, which in turn, mixed with zouk, gave rise to Kizomba, which turned into “tarraxinha”.

New Revamped Kizomba and Semba Program at AfroLatino Dance Co.

Kizomba/semba classes Toronto

Kizomba and Semba lessons in Toronto

Starting in April 2014, one of Toronto’s biggest social dance schools offering kizomba and semba classes, is introducing a restructured kizomba/semba program. Specializing in traditional (Angolan style) kizomba, the new program gradually introduces semba alongside kizomba, in a way of tackling the perception that many new kizombeiros In Toronto have: that semba is too hard to try!

Albena de Assis, a native of Angola and director and lead instructor at AfroLatino Dance Co., explains the rationale behind the new structure. “Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed how, despite the fact that kizomba dancers in Toronto were achieving higher dance skills, the vast majority of them were too fearful of starting to tackle semba.” “I loooove semba, but it’s too hard, I’ll start learning it in a few years from now” was often expressed in conversations with many notables in the kizomba scene. “So I’ve decided to start introducing it slowly in the existing kizomba program, as a way of showing to new students that it is an attainable dance”.

Currently the school offers kizomba and semba lessons several days a week, with the following classes running as of now:

Kizomba/Semba Lessons

Level 1: Kizomba 1
Thursdays, 8-9pm, May 1 to Jun 19, 2014
Sundays, 2-3pm, May 25 to Jul 13, 2014
Wednesday, 7-8pm, Jun 11 to Jul 30, 2014

Level 2: Kizomba/Semba 2
Wednesdays, 8-9pm, Apr 16 to Jun 4, 2014

Level 3: Kizomba/Semba 3
Wednesdays, 8-9pm, Jun 11 to Jul 30, 2014

Level 4: Semba 4
Saturdays, 5-6pm, Apr 26 to Jun 14, 2014

For more information and current kizomba/semba schedule of classes please check their website at
http://www.afrolatinodc.com/kizomba-semba-classes/kizomba-lessons-toronto.asp

Kizomba/Semba Workshop with Mestre Pétchu & Vanessa – March 30, 2014

Kizomba/Semba Workshop with Mestre Petchu & VanessaCréole Events Production & AfroLatino Dance Co. present

Kizomba/Semba with Mestre Petchu & Vanessa

We are delighted to bring to you Mestre Petchu and Vanessa Ginga Pura, two of the greatest ambassadors of kizomba/Semba and Angolan culture of music and dance. The Angolan dance Kizomba has gained worldwide popularity over the years and one of the biggest reason has been the tireless work of Mestre Petchu. Petchu was the first to teach kizomba and semba in Portugal where he resides and is consequently responsible for the spread of the dance culture all over Europe. He is the founder of the famed African ballet, Kilandukilu and has had a hand in training some of your favorite kizomba and Semba dancers today. Vanessa known internationally for her Ginga represents one of the best female Kizomba and Semba dancer in the world.

For the first time, Mestre Petchu and Vanessa will be in Canada to pass on their invaluable knowledge of Kizomba/Semba. If you love kizomba and Semba, the knowledge you will gain of the culture of the dance itself during this workshop will be unparalleled.

WORKSHOP:
Start at 4pm to 6:30pm
Doors open 3:45pm

Rate: $50

PROGRAM
4pm-5:15pm Kizomba Intermediate/Advanced
5:15pm-6:30pm Semba Beginner/Intermediate
6:30pm-7:30pm Social

LOCATION:
Bavia Arts Centre
898B St Clair Avenue West,Toronto, M6C 1C5
2nd Floor

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS:
www.eventbrite.com/e/mestre-petchu-vanessa-portugalangola-workshop-in-toronto-tickets-10583432331
Or at Afrolatino Studio: 901 Yonge Street, Toronto M4W 2H2

CONTACT INFO:
creoleeventsproduction@gmail.com
416-970-8232 OR 416-671-7140

Featured Dancer: Mestre Pétchu – A Living Legend and A Sea of Knowledge

Mestre Petchu kizomba semba dancer and teacher

Mestre Petchu

Pedro Vieira Dias Tomás (Mestre Pétchu) is one of the greatest authorities in the field of Angolan culture of music and dance. Currently living in Portugal, he was the first there to teach kizomba and semba; he has also created the methodology of teaching these dances. He is the one who contributed to Angolan rhythms being introduced to dance parties and dance schools in the whole of Europe.

For 25 years, he’s been the leading choreographer of the Ballet Tradicional Kilandukilu, a major dance company in Angola that strives to preserve Luanda’s rich dance traditions. Together with his dance partner Vanessa Pura Ginga, Mestre Pétchu is a very sought after teacher and judge for many international festivals, competitions and prestigious TV programmes. Many of the current international kizomba instructors have been trained by him at a certain point in their careers.

Semba Classes Are Here to Stay in Toronto

After the success of the first trial run of AfroLatino Dance Company’s semba course, the company is pleased to announce that semba classes are here to stay in Toronto! Hoping to continue to be one of the front runners in promotion of Angolan dance cultural heritage, Albena de Assis is very passionate about spreading the form and spirit of both social semba as well as the show form of the dance.

“People often think that semba has to be always fast and full of tricks (foot catches, dips, lifts, slides)…. But many people in Angola dance what is known as social semba as both their kizomba as well as semba music interpretation. Social semba is actually the classic way of dancing kizomba, many angolans would agree” says Albena.

AfroLatino Dance Company offers their semba classes currently on Saturdays, from 5 to 6pm, immediately followed by a practice/social from 6 to 8pm where students can practice the moves they’ve learned in class.

Semba Classes in Toronto with AfroLatino Dance Co.

Semba classes/lessons in Toronto with AfroLatino

Semba classes in Toronto with AfroLatino

For the first time in Toronto, a Semba (level 1) course is being offered by AfroLatino Dance Company. After being asked by many about semba and when we would start offering classes, here it is!

This course is introductory level but is aimed at students that are already comfortable with their kizomba basics. Based on the response and demand for these classes, future courses are already in the plans, on a 8-week course format.

Time: Wednesdays, 7-8pm

Date: November 27 to December 12, 2013

Cost (pre-HST prices):

  • $53.10 for 4-week registration per person
  • $75.22 for flexible card of 5 lessons
  • $137.17 for flexible card of 10 lessons
  • $247.79 for flexible card of 20 lessons
  • $16.81 for drop-in

Check the company’s website for more info on this semba class.

Here are some great examples of how much fun semba can be, straight from Angola!

New 8-Week Kizomba 1 Course at AfroLatino

Toronto Kizomba classes, Toronto Kizomba lessons

Kizomba classes / lessons in 8-week course format by AfroLatino Dance Co.

New 8-week kizomba level 1 course starting at AfroLatino Dance Company

Time: Thursdays, 8-9pm

Date: October 24 to December 12, 2013

Cost (pre-HST prices):

  • $106.19 for 8-week registration per person
  • $75.22 for flexible card of 5 lessons
  • $137.17 for flexible card of 10 lessons
  • $247.79 for flexible card of 20 lessons
  • $16.81 for drop-in

Check the company’s website for more info on this kizomba class.

Oct 26 Salsa Klimax – Halloween Edition – Salsa, Timba & Kizomba!

Salsa Klimax with Timba & Kizomba, Oct 26, 2013

Sasal Klimax Party on Oct 26, 2013 featuring timba & kizomba


Salsa Klimax, the Salsa & Kizomba Megaparty is back, this time Halloween Edition!!

2 FLOORS+ 2 SOUNDS + 2 GREAT DJ’s !!!

CUBAN FLOOR: Salsa, Timba, Cubaton by DJ Yumaniche…
AFRO+CARIBBEAN FLOOR: Kizomba, Zouk, Semba, Afro-House, Soca, Bachata and more by DJ LAS

★ Free Kizomba Lesson by AfroLatino Dance Company at 9:45pm
★ $10 in advance / $15 at the door
Online ticket sale: http://salsaklimax20131026.eventbrite.com/

Red Lipstick Party – Toronto Kizomba

Toronto kizomba red lipstick party, September 28, 2013

Toronto kizomba red lipstick party, September 28, 2013

A night of sensual kizomba…
plus a lil’ semba and Afro-House line dances!

All-level lesson by the GOdanz Kizomba Team,
including a sequence and **dip*** 9:00-9:45pm

Earlybird passes for KizombaFest Weekend available!
Sexy surprises…
Dance til 2am
Ladies wear red lipstick; Gentlemen wear anything red (socks, shirt, pants, bowtie ;)

Toronto Kizomba leaders, promoters and djs will be there!
Giveaways!
Don’t miss it!

Reserve your spot by saying you are ‘going’ here below, and pay $8 instead of $10 at the door. (deadline Sept 25)

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