Kizomba & History
• What is Kizomba?
• History of Kizomba
• Kompa, Zouk, Semba, Coladeira
• Is Kizomba Like Tango?
• Kizomba is to Sexy?
• Kizomba is to Easy?
What is Kizomba?
Kizomba Music genre
Kizomba is characterised by a slower, romantic, more sensuous rhythm than the traditional Angolan Semba dance. Kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm and Haitian Kompa.
Original influential music styles from Cape Verde are funaná, morna, coladeira and batuque. Thanks to the French Antilles Zouk music and the strong influence of Semba, Cape Verdean singers have developed significantly Kizomba and Zouk (mixing it with Coladeira) known as cabo love or cola-dance. Moreover, every lusophone country has developed its own Kizomba music flavour which is a type of Zouk as explained below.
Kizomba Dance genre
The Kizomba dance is a couple dance from which many styles such as, Tarraxinha and Urban Kiz derived from.Before the word Kizomba was adopted by Angolans in the 80s most PALOPS used to refer to it as “Passada” (including many Angolans). Passada uses the universal basics of partner dances. Side to side, Travelling & 360 degree rotation. These are basics came from the European dance called the Waltz which is dating back to the 16th century. Almost all partner dances have universal basics; from Bolero, to Son, to Bachata, to Semba, to Forro, to Tango etc… Each of these dances are how each culture perceived and mutated those basics into something that reflects their identity.....also see the video & Article about the Waltz Below...
The history of Kizomba today is a difficult but necessary work. Difficult because facts are relatively hard to find in a whole sea of conflicting information and disinformation. In the dance community this information is very important to not only dancers, but also DJ’s, instructors, and anyone else newly exposed. It's good to focus on the music origins, since it is the base of every dance. It’s interesting to note that the associated dances experienced similar paths as the music.
Kompa, Compa (konpa)
The genre was popularized following the 1955 creation of the band Conjunto International by Nemours Jean-Batiste. It is the main music of many countries such as Dominica and the French Antilles, etc. Whether it is called zouk where French Antilles artists of Martinique and Guadalupe have taken it or compas in places where Haitian artists have toured, this méringue style is very influential in the Caribbean, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Angola and many others West African countries, France, part of Canada, South and North America.
By the 1960s, Kompa Direk became the most popular form of Haitian music, with numerous bands arriving on the scene: Tabou Combo, Bosa Combo, Shlue-Shlue, and Les Fantaisistes. This was during the latter part of the 60's, post 1967. The latter bands were referred to as "Mini Djaz." A more guitar emphasis was placed in the music, as in Rock & Roll. The bands were smaller versions of Nemours's orchestra. The 1960s also brought about the exposure of Kompa to a wider audience and solidifying its status as one of the popular French Caribbean music style straight into the 70's.
By the 80's, we see the rise of antillean Zouk and Kassav. By mid 80s, Zouk was the most listened to music in Haiti. This spurred a new style of Kompa, called nouvel jenerasyon. Nouvel jenerasyon incorporated technology in Kompa, synthesizers, drum machines, computer software. It streamlined the Kompa band. Synthesizers replaced horns. Drum machines used in placed of conga, tom toms, and even the drummer. Some musician went further and got rid of all natural instruments, totally synthesized, called digital bands. Less musicians were needed to produce and perform Kompa. The Kompa band was geared to more concert venues as opposed to being a dance hall party band.
Literally meaning “beat” or “rythym” in Spanish, kompa is a Haitian music genre with the stylings of Cuban contradanza, Son Cubano, jazz elements, African rhythms, and Dominican merengue. Unlike zouk, it is sung in mostly Haitian Creole.
Zouk is a style of music and dance derived from Afro-Caribbean French creole culture of the lesser Antilles, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, and St. Lucia. Zouk had its initial beginnings in the French department of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Initially, the French departments listened to Jazz and Latin music(Brazil, Argentina, Cuba). Numerous bands sprang up playing these forms.
Zouk is dance music. Zouk dance style is similar to Kompa and often known now as Zouk Love or French Zouk. Zouk also influenced Kizomba and developed its own dancing style as we know.
Zouk has a fast rhythm, followed by a strong beat, and instrumentally is created by traditional instruments in live orchestra. It is sung mainly in French creole. Zouk, today often described as “retro-zouk,” had its beginning in 1979. History tells us that in 1979 in Paris Jacob F. Desvarieux, Pierre-Edouard Décimus and his brother Georges Décimus met together and decided to make a new album. All three of them came from Guadeloupe, so they gathered musicians from the French Antilles* and formed a band known as Kassav. The first lineup of Kassav was all from Guadeloupe, but soon after it gained members from Martinique as well. These musicians were from the French Antilles and had well known careers all through the Caribbean. Their albums Love and Ka Dance were created in 1980 with influences of different styles of music from throughout the Caribbean; kompa (Haiti), cadence and merengue (Dominican Republic), calipso (Trinidad & Tobago) and others all combined with strong carnival sounds. This is how zouk was made. The name Zouk comes from Creole in Martinique and the meaning of “zouk” is translated as “festival,” which indeed describes the music itself very well.
Encouraged by their big success, Kassav did not confine their touring to just the Caribbean and France, but continued to spread their music to Europe and Africa as well; and as history knows, to the whole world. Zouk became the base of new types of music, not only kizomba, but also cola-zouk (Cape Verde).
Brazilians who got their Rum from the Caribbean also got the music and took French Zouk music from the Caribbean and created their own dance style from it, a lambada base style because the music was similar to Lambada rhythms.
A traditional music from Angola, it’s the singular form of Masemba. Semba means “a touch of bellies” in the Quimbundo language of the Bantus of Angola, a move that characterizes the dance.
Semba is very much alive and popular in Angola today as it was long before its independence from the Portuguese Colonial System on November 11, 1975. Various new semba artists emerge each year in Angola, as they render homage to veteran semba masters, many of whom are still performing. Other styles influenced by semba in Angola are rebita, as well as kazukuta and kabetula which are primarily carnival music. Semba is the predecessor to a variety of music styles originating from Angola like kizomba and kuduro, or kuduru, which could be considered the Angolan version of techno/house.
It is possible that Brasilian Samba comes from the same root, from Angolan people being moved to Brazil by the Portuguese.
Is a music genre from Cabo Verde. The word koladera initially referred to the act of going out and singing the colá. According to the oral tradition, a new musical genre appeared in the 1930s.
Coladeira continued to integrate influences from abroad, from Brazilian music and also from Anglo-Saxon music. In the 1970s, with the appearance of movements against colonialism and relations with socialist countries, other influences came along, including Latin-American music (Bolero, Son Cubano, Salsa, Cumbia) and African music (especially from Angola and Guine-Bissau).
In terms of musical structure, coladeira began to slowly lose the traits that used to identify it with morna. It was in this period that the dichotomy morna \ coladeira was established.
There is a strong kompa influence in Cape Verdean music. During the 1960s-1980s, Haitian artists and bands such as Claudette & Ti Pierre, Tabou Combo, and especially Gesner Henry alias Coupe Cloue, and the Dominican group Exile One, were very popular in Africa. Exile One was the first to export cadence or compas music to the Cape Verde islands. Cape Verdeans artists have been exposed to compas and zouk in the USA and France. In addition, the French Antilles band Kassav and other French Antillean musicians, whose main music was Zouk toured the islands on various occasions.
The base of Kizomba music is actually "Afro Caribbean French Zouk' Many West African Countries have their own version of Zouk. The name Kizomba is how Angolans define their own afro-zouk, a fusion between zouk, kompa and Angolan traditional music. Caboverdians define their afro-zouk as cola-zouk, cabo-zouk or cabo-love. Afro-zouk from Guinea-Bissau is called meia-batida. In fact, afro-zouk exists in countries like the Congo, Mali, Ivory Coast, Gabon, São Tomé and Prince, Mozambique, Nigeria, Cameroon, Madagascar etc.
It is impossible to speak about Kizomba and not speak about Caboverdians and how much they influenced many countries afro-zouk/cola-zouk/meia-batida/kizomba. Especially because in the beginning of the 90s Angola was still going through a civil war that started in 1975 (right after their independence from Portugal) and only finished in 2002.
All these Caboverdian singers and their music were having a big impact on the PALOP* community at large. In Portugal was truly were people kept Kizomba alive, Angola was at war and the rest of the PALOP countries were also struggling in their new independence. The love for kompa, zouk and afrozouk inadvertently had a uniting effect at PALOP night clubs frequented by emigrants arriving in Portugal.
Popular singers from Angola who resided in Portugal during the 90s were mainly Bonga, Eduardo Paim and Paulo Flores with Irmãos Verdades (having their debut in the late 90s). And we saw the appearance of artists like Fernando Santos, Carlos Burity (Semba), Rey Weba, Maya Cool, Tabanka Djaz and Justino Delgado from Guine Bissau, or Juka from Mozambique or Camilo Domingos from São Tomé and Prince.
Caboverdian singers and producers had influence in Congo (Lutchiana), Ivory Coast (Monique Seka), Gabon (Oliver N’Goma), Angola, Guine-Bissau and São Tomé and Prince.
The word kizomba comes from the kimbundo language in Angola and for most PALOPS it became the most popular label for afro-zouk.
As for the meaning of the word “kizomba” (kizomba/quizomba/izomba), translated from kimbundo it means “party”, describing both the event and the place where people would gather to dance and celebrate, usually playing and dancing semba in the old days.
The Predecessor to all partner dances including KIzomba is the Waltz the original style is generally termed the Viennese Waltz. It's the oldest of all the modern partner dance styles in the closed hold, which came from Vienna, Austria. The Viennese Waltz originates from the Volta in the 1500's which came from France. The Volta was also the only court dance of the period performed by a couple in a closed embrace. It ushered in a whole new way of looking at dance... read the full article here >
Kizomba is Like Tango?
When introducing a new dance form, it can be helpful to compare it to something to give people a frame of reference. The is often used in advertising because people have no idea what this dance is like. People often say, “Kizomba is like African Tango.” You can see from the article above "Passada" that these all hold universal basics, plus there is so much in common in History of Tango & Kizomba.
Beyond that, a newer generation of dancers, primarily based in Paris but with students all over the world, have taken inspiration from modern Tango to add new vocabulary to their Kizomba. It is possible to see a whole range of steps that are very similar to those in Argentine Tango. Furthermore, many of these dancers have altered their technique to better suit this vocabulary, often dancing with a straighter spine or even sliding through their steps.
Kizomba is too sexy?
Maybe you walked into the Kizomba room at a large dance festival, it was really dark, and you saw people making out on the dance floor. Maybe you’ve been on YouTube and seen people grinding their pelvises against each other. Kizomba can be sexy. However, that is not inherent to the dance, orginally it like other similar dance styles such as Semba, Kompa, Zouk Love & even Meregnue, these are fun non-sexulised 'family dances', you dance with your uncle, mother and friends etc, on this side of the world its closer than we are used to which can give it a bad names, lets aim to educate our selves some more.... full article coming soon on this.
Kizomba Is Easy
Well, in the sense that you can learn three or four steps and be set for a whole night of dancing, yes. With the right teacher, in an hour or two you can get enough understanding of movement and basic steps to dance through an entire social with a touch of musicality. Kizomba is totally accessible for beginners – so if you haven’t tried it yet, get started!
The problem is when people dismiss Kizomba as easily mastered. Many people take a month’s worth of classes and then figure themselves for advanced dancers – after all, once you know the Saidas and a couple tricks or dips, you’re set, right?
These people are missing out on the best part of Kizomba: how you move while staying so closely connected to your partner. Or maybe they get stuck memorizing combinations, instead of learning to use their vocabulary to put together their own poetic movement. Kizomba has so much subtlety and so many intricate possibilities.
Ground your movement and find the right alignment with your partner, and then 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 unrecognisably 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’, their hips from yours – 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 indicate mastery. In Kizomba, each technique mastered is like an additional colour 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.
At Salsa Latina we often teach Kizomba Courses on Mondays..... come join in the fun >
All the genres listed here had a big influence on what we call kizomba today and some have become part of today’s kizomba umbrella. This is just a partial list as there are other African rhythms that have had their influence on this remarkable genre we call Kizomba.
Skah Skah – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY5ukYOkZg8
Coupe Cloue – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LpU28yAekY
Sweet Mickey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eONSeWzvHGw
ZOUK – GUADALUPE AND MARTINIQUE
Experience 7 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBhdyq77tRc
Zouk Machine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gOU8iRnZ6M
ZOUK LOVE – GUADALUPE AND MARTINIQUE
Jean Michel Rotin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o-h_JObqRQ
SEMBA – ANGOLA
Carlos Buriti – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guTKkqwDB9s
COLADERA – CABO-VERDE
Cesaria Evora – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGj77k9OBf4
Tito Paris – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCeLjMjZSHo
COLA-ZOUK – CABO-VERDE
Grace Evora – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tYDI98DDUk
Nando Da Cruz – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l15E2yOm7dM
CABO-ZOUK – CABO-VERDE
Kino Cabral – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGYHy3v1mFI
Susanna Lubrano – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHMQThCeZWo
Beto Dias – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDaEg7TIp1E
CABO-LOVE – CABO-VERDE
Phillipe Monteiro – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDrEnSBs5Zs
GETTO – ZOUK – CABO-VERDE
Nelson Freitas – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9XUIVFajF8
Johny Ramos – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDP5ij6N1t0
TARRAXINHA – ANGOLA
Dj Massacre – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxSG3aFjih0
Dj Paparazzi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoqvpPWZ364
AFRO-ZOUK – FUSION OF ZOUK Not from ANGOLA
Tabanka Djaz – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wHXvtWPdxU
Oliver N’Goma – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2msRi40IEG0
KIZOMBA – ANGOLA
Eduardo Paim – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QaLXuRTslw
Paulo Flores – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwWLco6Ri4M
Ruka Van Dunem – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXxvA5awseY
Matias Damasio – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q86lCtj1BYs
Kyaku Kyadaff – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2rRxg6a1OY
Yola Semedo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG-2liMTMwk