Kizomba Klimax Party – May 27, 2016

Kizomba Klimax Party

Kizomba Klimax Party – May 27, 2016

The kizomba and semba party by AfroLatino Dance Company, with DJ L’Astre, will be held at Lily Lounge, in the heart of Little Italy, 656 College Street!

Kizomba & Semba Workshops with Bonifácio – January 2016

Kizomba & Semba with Bonifácio

Kizomba & Semba Workshops with Bonifácio, Toronto – Jan 2016

For the second year in a row we had the great pleasure of hosting again Bonifácio for a weekend of Kizomba and Semba workshops, from January 9th to the 10th, at AfroLatino Dance Company‘s studio.

The great level of instruction, the energy, the knowledge, the entertainment, were all in perfect combination to turn this event into a memorable experience! See for yourselves with this slideshow video with both photos as wella s videos from the parties and workshops.

Kizomba & Semba Weekend with Paulo & Lanna – May 2015

Kizomba & Semba Workshops with Paulo & LannaFor the first time in Toronto, world renowned kizomba and semba dancer and teacher duo Paulo and Lanna, were enchanting our kizomba community on May 23-24, 2016! Brought by AfroLatino Dance Company and Tarek Sabry, this dynamic duo from Angola demonstrated a great deal of authenticity, knowledge and showmanship.

Workshop participants were treated to 7 hours of workshops in Kizomba, Semba, Afro-House and tribal dances, as well as 5 hours of pure social dance joy with DJ L’Astre and DJ NS.

Both hailing from Angola but currenly residing in Portugal, Paulo Cruz and Lanna Zamora are one of the most sought after international teachers by multiple kizomba and semba congresses and festivals worldwide.

Kizomba & Semba Classes

Kizomba & Semba Weekend with Paulo & Lanna, Toronto, May 2015





Kizomba, Semba Classes, Lessons

Last day of Kizomba, Semba, Afro-House workshops with Paulo & Lanna


Kizomba/Semba Intensive Weekend with Bonifácio – March 2015

Kizomba & Semba Workshops

Group photo form the weekend of Kizomba & Semba workshops with Bonifácio, Toronto, March 2015

An AfroLatino Dance Company and Tarek Sabry production, what a weekend it was, full of exciting, amazing dancing and a superb learning experience! For the first time in Toronto, Bonifácio, Angola’s 2012 Kizomba champion, a.k.a. Mr. Tuffas, brought with him not only amazing knowledge, a true mastery of the skill of dancing kizomba and semba to the highest level, but also a truly infectious positive energy.

Kizomba / Semba Workshops

Kizomba & Semba Workshops with Bonifácio: a kind and knowledgable teacher Toronto

Kizomba & Semba Workshops

Kizomba & Semba Workshops with Bonifácio

The workshops were jam packed with material to be studied for months and months to come, but above all , what fun it was to be in those classes, learning from a funny and kind great master. The social dancing after the workshops was also on fire, with DJ L’Astre and DJ Borisha playing for a total of 9 hours!

Kizomba & Semba Workshops

Students focused on the moves being learned

Featured Dancer: Eddy Vents

Eddy Vents, is a dancer/teacher originally from Guinea Bissau but currently residing in the UK who has been a very important figure in the development of the kizomba movement in that country and who is also a regular teacher at many international congresses throughout the world.

Often a vocal defender of the original and organic style, Eddy is a true master of not only traditional kizomba but also both social as well as show semba. His motto is “To be good in any dance, the key is the music and how you master your basic.”.

Here is a video interview where he describes a little bit of his journey:

His famous explanation of the kizomba basics:

Here is an interview he recently gave to …
IDM: How long have you been dancing kizomba?

Eddy: Well, some say before I could walk (laughs), but I have been dancing it or have had exposure to it, since I was very young. And I have devoted over fifteen years of my life to studying it more intensely- its music and history and movements. And so I’ve been dancing it for about 27 years now.

IDM: Where is the dance originally from?

Eddy: Kizomba is originally from Angola, West Africa. But it’s also from the five ex- Portuguese colonies. One of them is Guinea Bissau, which is where I’m from. And I grew up in Portugal. Kizomba is from a combination of zouk and other African rhythms. I love zouk because I grew up learning to dance kizomba to zouk. Kizomba, the step, has existed for a long time. Kizomba, the music, is something new. It’s been around from the late 80’s.

IDM: Where do you live now?

Eddy: I live in London now. I moved to England a few years back. And I teach kizomba in England and have traveled to many different parts of the world to share my knowledge and passion of the dance with others.

IDM: Your dance group’s name is called Pitanga. What does the name mean?

Eddy: Pitanga is the name of a fruit. I think it’s from Africa, but I don’t know from where exactly.

IDM: What does it taste like? Is it good?

Eddy: (shakes his head and makes a sour looking face). No, I don’t like it. (laughs).

IDM: You just liked the name (laughs)?

Eddy: No, it describes a good mix of things. Well, for one thing, the fruit is not sweet. It’s sour, like citrus, but not proper bitter or as strong as a lemon. It’s a little bit sweeter than lemon. If you end up eating three or four, your face is going to be like… (he scrunches up his lips and mouth and laughs). And the reason for the name? Well, what we say is that pitanga, the fruit, is an aphrodisiac. And we used to make jokes that kizomba can be an aphrodisiac as well for certain couples (laughs).

Plus the fruit is tropical and kizomba is tropical too, so that was where the idea for the name came from.

IDM: I’m glad you brought that up, about the joke, because the dance IS really close. And I find that, well, at least in the west, where we’re still learning it, sometimes, people from the outside, when they are watching it, they have an image of what it is but it’s…

Eddy: …the wrong idea?

IDM: Yes! I know some guys who think that they want to learn kizomba because they only see that you get to be really close to the girl and it seems so simple. And then they try to dance it, and copy it, and they interpret it as just grinding or rubbing up against a girl, which is not what it is. And so it just ruins it. I’m wondering if you see that misconception a lot, and how you, as a kizomba teacher, go about changing that.

Eddy: We never can fight against that. I mean, this thought about the dance is not just in Vancouver. It’s everywhere, worldwide. I mean, I even made the joke about it now with the Pitanga name. But it’s not really how I feel about the dance.

At my venue on Sunday, I always end up having someone who goes to the bar to take a drink and he sees everyone dancing kizomba, and he wants to do it too. At first, he spends some time looking around, and invites a girl to dance. And then, like you said, he just tries to rub up against her. We always have people around at my venue who look out for these kinds of people. We are all there to dance. But when we see someone doing something more… how can I say, ‘modern’ (laughs)? We advise him to ‘gently’ follow us (grabs my arm and laughs).

No, but seriously, this is sometimes the idea that people have. It’s easy for people on the outside to think that kizomba has a lot of sexuality in it which can be true, in some ways. But that’s not what the dance is about.

What people forget is that we grew up with the dance for many years. So the sexuality aspect of it, if it was there, disappeared for us a long time ago. I mean, it’s not the purpose of the dance, or what it’s all about. I posted a video on the internet of young kids -a girl and a boy- doing kizomba. There was nothing sexual about it. We do this dance for fun. We don’t see it as sexual.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t feel a connection or be attracted to someone when dancing with them. Of course, you can actually end up having chemistry with someone you dance with. But I don’t think that happens just in kizomba. You can even be dancing house with someone, and you can feel that chemistry. But I guess with kizomba, the two people are very close in the dance, so people look at it differently.

IDM: And about that closeness, you had said in the workshops that in kizomba, it’s about two people looking …

Eddy: …like one.

IDM: Yes (smiles). I just really liked the concept. And the feeling is amazing. Could you explain this a little further?

Eddy: Okay, kizomba is all about connection. And actually, the way you connect to your partner is the way you can create better control, in terms of the dance and the movement. If you are less connected, you have less control. And the way people connect and interact with each other always seems to come from the society they grew up in.

English people, for example, in general, say hello, like this (puts out his hand and goes to shake mine).

For them, it may seem polite, but what they don’t realize is that they have already created a barrier between you and them, with their hand, before they even know you.

Kizomba is about basically killing that barrier. You and your partner are close, and you cannot have that block between you. But it’s common to see those same English people dancing with their bodies far from each other, at first.

But with kizomba, you have to connect more, and without realizing it, you end up breaking that barrier.

You’re still going to find that people will say that it looks like two people rubbing against each other. But, only after a while, when you start to get more into kizomba, will you start to take out that sexual connection to it. You will become more relaxed, and without realizing it, your body will start to connect even more, in a deeper way. And it’s actually when you connect in this way, that you can ENJOY the dance more.

Because my perspective is that kizomba has a lot of energy around it. LOTS. We’re talking about two bodies connecting, and then that being connected with the music. And there’s a lot of energy that gets created between two people. If you relax, and just allow the music to lift you, it’s amazing and addictive. After a while, people don’t realize it, but they just want more and more.

It’s literally because of this energy that is always going on that you end up feeling that way.

The more comfortable you are with kizomba, the more you enjoy it because you don’t realise it but your body goes closer and closer and closer to your partner, and that is when you start to look and feel as if you are moving as one.

IDM: Is that what you meant in your workshops when you said that kizomba is different from other dances because it’s not about steps, it’s about the connection, and the music?

Eddy: Exactly. People focus too much on steps. I think it was with you, in the workshop, that I demonstrated a move where I swept your leg away, where I pushed your leg under?

IDM: Yes.

Eddy: And a couple of people came up to me after the workshop and asked me to teach that to them. Some of them were not even getting the basic movement or a simple walk forward and back. And it seemed that the only thing those people took from the class was when I did that sweep with you. That told me everything. For them, they probably will never really get interested in the real kizomba. Or if they do get into it, it will only be about the steps to them.

And you miss the beauty of kizomba when you are only focused on steps and not connected with the energy and the music. When you are connected to the music, you will be saying, “Wow!” Sometimes, people won’t always know why they are feeling that wow feeling, but it’s because we are talking about literally moving inside of the music- your body movement is combining with the music. And it will look so natural, but people won’t understand why. And that’s the beauty of kizomba. It’s really about listening to the music, being connected to it, and playing with the different rhythms you have within it.

IDM: Because it is more about that connection and energy, it’s really hard to describe kizomba to someone else. Often, I hear it being described in terms of other dances. The description “African tango” has come up a few times, and I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that.

Eddy: I think people describe kizomba that way because they need to refer to the dance with something that is more familiar. If I explained kizomba to you by talking about the other dances it’s connected to or came out of, you probably won’t know what I’m talking about, because you’ve never seen those dances. So ‘African tango’ makes it easy for people on this side of the world, who have not experienced those African dances, to imagine the dance using something they already know.

IDM: It just bothered me when I heard someone refer to kizomba that way, because I thought well, I’m sure that kizomba has its own history and is its own dance, and by calling it something else, I feel like we are denying it that history. And the more we do that, the more I wonder when WILL we ever then make an effort to learn about it as its own dance? I mean, I know this is taking it a little far, but if tango was not well known to people, but kizomba was, and tango was described as Argentine kizomba, I wonder how tango dancers and the history of tango would suffer, or how it would make the people who came from those roots feel.

Eddy: You are right. Kizomba is not tango, it is kizomba, and it has its own roots. But maybe people think it’s easier to understand if it is explained by using things we already know. But you have a good point, because if you go deep into Africa, it is difficult for you to see tango flavor in the kizomba there. Because the kind of communication you have here- internet and all that- where everything comes so fast, we don’t have that. We don’t mix those other dances into kizomba so easily like that. For us, we don’t have schools for dance that way. We dance the way we see people dancing around us. It doesn’t mean that kizomba cannot have some tango flavor put into it. Probably in America, you’re going to see a lot of kizomba teachers with tango moves, things they’ve learned from the internet and from their other dance backgrounds. But they are adding that to the kizomba dance. Kizomba is a subtle dance, not flashy. It is for the two people dancing it. It is not for show. It is a social dance. So many times, people add tango and other elements to it to make it more showy for performances and youtube videos. But that is not the dance itself. So to say that every time you learn kizomba you will see tango is really going far.

IDM: Are there other elements of other dances that get put into kizomba or get mistaken for a part of kizomba?

Eddy: Okay, from dances like salsa and bachata, people put things in that they have the choice to use, but they shouldn’t call it kizomba. For example, in kizomba, you don’t have the movement of your rib cage or upper body like they do in salsa or bachata. And we don’t have the tap that you often see in bachata or salsa. The tap actually goes against what is the authentic kizomba body movement. But many times, I see salsa teachers teaching kizomba and teaching their students to tap in the movements. They are used to doing this in salsa or bachata but they need to recognize that we are talking about a different dance. Kizomba is different. I am not going to teach R&B the same way that I’m going to teach salsa. That doesn’t make sense. So why would I teach kizomba the same way I would teach bachata or salsa? As teachers, we should be finding a proper structure to give to people to learn from. Or if you decide to put in other movements, then let the students know that it is not traditional kizomba, but it is your own style, or something you are adding into kizomba.

IDM: What are the other dance styles that you dance in your group?

Eddy: We do funana and we do gumbe, which is traditional from my country. We do coupe de cale, which is one of the biggest dances in the world (smiles). Okay, one of the biggest dances in Africa (laughs). But in fact, it’s something big, huge, bigger than kizomba. All these dances give you African rhythms. And what kizomba actually did was take lots of movements from them, and so they are a part of where kizomba comes from.

IDM: Speaking of other dances from which kizomba came, semba is a huge part of that too, right?

Eddy: Yes, kizomba originated from semba (which is where samba came from) and zouk and other African rhythms. Semba is a type of music inside of the kizomba umbrella which allows us to do performances and more showy things. As I said before, kizomba is less showy, and more of a social dance, rather than for performances.

IDM: And you have an event running for the first time this year called Semba Camp. Could you tell us a little about it?

Eddy: I created the Semba Camps because I wanted to find a way to share our African dancing with others, but share it in its purest form -without mixing the dances with any other styles. So I have invited instructors who dance particular African dances to teach at the event. We will have funana and coupe de cale and semba being taught there. Semba Camp is based on African dance and African roots. Most other congresses are not just kizomba congresses. They usually have to have kizomba mixed with salsa and bachata at those events. But I’ve tried to create the first kizomba event focusing on the African roots without the mixing of European styles in it.

IDM: Can anyone come to the events?

Eddy: Yes, of course. I hope a lot of people do come. The events will be in Oxford, England. And they are in four stages- the first in May, the second in July, and the last two in October and November. They will include competitions and workshops. And you can come out to any of the months or all of them and still have a lot of opportunities to learn and participate as we will always be pushing foundation, foundation, foundation. Beginner workshops will be going on regularly.

IDM: Since you dance so many different dances, do you have one that is a favorite? Is it kizomba?

Eddy: They are all connected for me.

IDM: Yeah, I thought you were going to say that (smiles).

Eddy: Okay, for example, my mom is from Cape Verde. I’m from Guinea. I was born in Guinea. Guinea roots are gumbe, which I love. I grew up with gumbe. I grew up with funana, which is from my mom’s birth place. I went to Cape Verde and I grew up with kizomba. I don’t have one favorite dance. Right now, I can say that yes, kizomba is the best, because it’s the one that pays my bills. Honestly.

But the same way I see kizomba growing, I would love to see funana do the same. I wanted to teach funana and coupe de cale in England. And when I told my friend about the idea, the first thing he told me was that people in England are not ready for that.

And then I said you know what? I will try it anyway. So I started to create a regular class for coupe de cale and a regular class for funana. And they are always packed, always. And we do different events with my Pitanga group, and every time promoters ask me now to make sure that either I have a coupe de cale or funana class at the events.

IDM: You mentioned earlier that you grew up with a lot of these dances, but that you didn’t have dance schools in Africa. So how did you learn them? How did you learn kizomba?

Eddy: This is actually a good question. I was thinking the other day, how DID I end up learning kizomba? I think it’s like how we end up learning to speak.

IDM: Wow! I wish it was that easy for me (laughs).

Eddy: But no, really. How do we learn how to speak? It’s just something that comes naturally. That’s how kizomba came to me. I grew up watching my parents dancing all the time. And of course as a child, sometimes I would make jokes or I would grab my sister and we would try to copy what we saw, and we would just play with the music. I don’t know. I think I was watching it so many times, and playing and listening to the music all the time. After some time, I guess it stayed with me. I don’t know how to explain it.

IDM: But there are some people who, even when they grow up in that environment, don’t end up taking to the dance of their culture. I mean, like you said, not everyone in Angola or Portugal knows how to dance kizomba. So what made it different for you? What made it important for you to pursue and learn further?

Eddy: It’s true. I mean, there are a lot of Angolans, especially the new generation, who hate kizomba. They like R&B or house music. They don’t listen to kizomba. So I don’t know.

At the end of the day, we get a lot of influences from our parents. Maybe because my parents used to like dancing, and I used to have it all the time in my house, I grew up with that perspective. I don’t know. I don’t see any other explanation.

Because really, where do our beliefs come from? Mostly from the beliefs of our parents and the society we grew up in.

My father is an anthropologist. So he’s into history, but he’s also crazy for music. And I grew up having a lot of vinyl records because my father was crazy about having them. And then, when I started to work, when I had my first job, I started to follow my father because I spent all of my money buying CD’s or cassettes. And my father used to get pissed at me for spending a lot of what I made on music (laughs).

And my father one day ended up breaking some CD’s just to show me that he didn’t like me spending so much on them. NOW, I understand that actually, I grew up seeing my father doing the same thing (laughs). Although he complained about me getting crazy about music, he used to do it too. And so that part probably came from his influence.

But I always loved kizomba. I HAD to have the music and listen to it always. I couldn’t explain why. Even with my friends, they thought I was crazy. We would all go out, and when we used to listen to songs, I would be able to give them the name of the singer, the name of the album, the track number and the year it came out.

And people used to think, “Damn, you are sick!” (laughs). But yeah, I was always into the music. And now I love sharing it and the dance with everyone around me.

Here is another interesting article by Eddy Vents where he describes his opinion on current trends in the international kizomba scene but also applicable to salsa or bachata:

Eddy Vents: Why Most Kizomba and Salsa Teachers Are Bad

Semba Lovers Night – October 17, 2014

Semba Lovers Night

Semba Lovers Night, Oct 17, 2014

Toronto’s first and only regular semba event is back for its October instalment. Come experience the pure joy of SEMBA, KIZOMBA, ZOUK, AFROHOUSE, KUDURO and more, the way an Angolan party is!!! Heck, we may throw in some rebita as well!

  • Sounds by: DJ L’As
  • Cover: $10
  • Complimentary semba lesson @ 9:15pm by AfroLatino Dance Company
  • Venue: Luanda House, 974 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Semba Lovers Night debuted on September 20, 2014, in what turned out to be an amazing night where not only the new kizomba community came out to support but also the Angolan community marked a strong presence, including Angola’s Ambassador, who could be seen on the dance floor enjoying some kizomba and semba! Semba has arrived in Toronto and is here to stay!!!

Here are some photos from the last event on September 20 (more photos can be seen here):

Semba Lovers Night Semba Lovers Night Semba Lovers Night
Semba Lovers Night Semba Lovers Night Semba Lovers Night

Featured Dancers: Mister Tecas & Miss Jo

Mister Tecas and Miss Jo, semba masters

Mister Tecas and Miss Jo, semba masters

Edson Tecas and Jocilene Andrade, also known as Mister Tecas (“O Comandante”) and Miss Jo, are two true powerhouses in the world of kizomba and semba, currently residing in Paris, France. They form a dance partnership that has proven to be very functional and pivotal in the spread of kizomba and semba in France, being the first teachers responsible for many waves of internationally recognized french dancers.

Known for their impressive shows of semba, always raising the bar for to the technicality and showmanship elements, at the same time as staying true to the original form, they are also very respected for their teaching abilities and are very sought after for various workshops at congresses throughout Europe.


Mister Tecas, also a well known kizomba DJ in Paris

Mister Tecas, also a well known kizomba DJ in Paris

Edson Tecas, born and raised in Angola, is a true master of everything to do with show semba! Having learned from simply what’s considered the best kizomba/semba dancer in Angola, Dilson, while being part of the Angolan Army cultural division, Tecas excels remarkably well in the intricacies of footwork funkiness while executing amazing tricks with his dance partner. He is also known as a very detailed and demanding teacher, that will pay special attention to the importance of a good foundation for his students.

Tecas & Jo Semba

Mister Tecas and Miss Jo, semba masters

Jocilene or simply Miss Jo, is a sweet and talented dancer, hailing from Cape Verde Islands. She brings grace and naturality both to her semba as well as kizomba.

If you are travelling to Paris, check them out at their studio on:

25 rue Boyer, 75020 Paris, France
Phone: +33 6 45 37 70 26

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:

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 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 Charles, 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, 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, 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.


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.


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

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