Co-creative Dance & Kizomba Blog – The Art of Connection
Welcome to my monthly dance blog, where I share and explore my thoughts on dance, life, social dance, co-creativity, Kizomba and teaching. The Blog also includes song and dance video recommendations for Kizomba/Tarraxa/Urban Kiz/Semba (recommendation at bottom of blog). My hope is that this blog can make you think and help you grow as a dancer and as a person. As the information I share has helped me greatly in my life and dance journey.
In dance as in life there are very tangible things like steps, patterns, food, cars, rocks… Then there are less tangible things like love, peace, happiness, connection, flow… Tangible things we can understand, touch, make sense of fairly easily. However, less tangible things, often invisible to the naked eye, are more about feelings, energy, self awareness… they are harder to grasp, understand, improve, and live. Yet they are the sweetness of life. I like to think about these things as what makes art, art. An artist is no different from any other worker who works with wood, metal, paint (or any other material) and the techniques used are often the same, but it’s what they do with it and the idea/emotion/energy they infuse it their work that makes it art versus an object.
I have heard people describe kizomba as poetry in motion. That notion resonates strongly with me, because I strive to dance in a way that expresses the music with my partner, finding steps and ways of executing the steps that feel right in every moment. Allowing to express as fully as possible how I feel in that moment. Poetry is not about using all the most complicated words you know, but it’s about using the right words, often in a unique way, to convey the emotions/ideas you have to create pictures and make people feel and/or think.
In dance connection is one of these intangible things that is hard to explain but is felt. You can dance the same steps with different partners and the connection to that partner will feel completely different. Naturally some people connect more than others and different people connect differently. Although there are techniques that help create a good connection, a good connection goes beyond the physical and technical into feelings. Some people say that when your connection is good in kizomba you see the other person’s soul and become two souls flowing together.
I often hear people say, “just connect”. But what does that actually mean and how do we do that? How do we get good at connecting? Well firstly, to you, what is connection? When you dance how do you interact with your partner?
Connection is this feeling of being connected in some way to a person, a community, music, object, place… like there is something tying you together or a bond that you share, a feeling of togetherness. Connection is about sharing. Sharing a moment in time, an idea, a feeling, an emotion, energy… But how do we do that? Well to me the first step is to acknowledge ourselves and how we are feeling, what ideas we have, who we are when we let go of all our masks. Being OK with being vulnerable, open, overcoming the fear of sharing your ideas, feelings, creativity and musicality. Knowing yourself and being open to share yourself with your partner is a good first step towards connection. So, bring yourself along for the ride! People with the best connections are usually in touch with who they are and with their emotions and they do not mind sharing them. To me it goes beyond the physical and it’s about connecting energetically, spiritually. I believe on some level we are all connected and pure positive energy. When we truly connect on a deep level, we connect to that energy.
Next is acknowledging your partner and the music without judgement and embracing the experience for what it is. Two people dancing to one song. Everyone is different and has their own identity and that is important, but to establish a connection we need to look for common ground. It can be as simple as the steps and techniques we are both comfortable with. For example, if your partner doesn’t know virgulas, trying to do them the whole dance will really be disruptive to your connection, but if you concentrate on what you can both do instead of what you can’t, you can have a good dance and have a better connection. You want your partner to trust you, you want to help them to relax, be comfortable and have fun and accepting them as they are goes a long way. All those things truly help create a good connection.
But there is also deeper, less tangible types of connection, like an energical, feeling, soul, spiritual, connection. That type of enhanced connection can be an amazing experience. It can feel like both partners are dancing together as one and are naturally expressing the music together. It can feel more like sharing a dance than a lead/follow connection and sharing the same train of thoughts. Some people do this more naturally than others. For people who find this hard I would recommend starting by just trying to breath together, then slowly trying to groove to the music together finding a common way you can both agree to do this. It’s about actively being aware of yourself while actively listening to your partner, feeling what you are feeling in the moment and trying to find a common ground. It’s about realizing that we are all energy and are all connected all the time and taping into that. Like a flock of migrating birds who naturally know to fly together in the same direction. As in life, no matter how good you are at connecting, you will connect better with certain people, as you either share more things in common, are looking for the same type of connection, you feel the music a similar way… Same as in life even if you stay the same, the connections, interactions and relationships you develop with the people you meet are all different. And your friends are usually people you naturally connect with more.
One thing that I find truly amazing is that having a good connection can truly be enough and satisfying to your partner, to the point where moves fade away. It’s like you suddenly slip into a state of being versus doing.
I would like to share a story from my trip to France last summer. As I dance who both the lead and follow roles, I lead many times during my trip. However, it is not very common yet for women to lead there, so, many women were not very sure about dancing with me. Often I would have to start in an open frame, as they were not comfortable with more and I started with more technical steps, showing them that I knew how to lead a variety of movements in a way that they felt good executing the moves. Over the time of the dance, many relaxed, starting to trust me, realizing that I was just dancing to dance without any weirdness. And that I was executing moves while listening to them and giving them space. With many I was then able to move into a close connection, letting their guard down, starting the trust and connecting with me on a deeper level. As the connection deepened, I naturally felt that they wanted me to be less technical and more musical. The more we went the simpler I made the steps and the deeper connection we created. After a while I felt like they just wanted me to rock them from side to side and let them enjoy the connection we created. When I ended the dance, most looked at me like walking up from a dream and thanked me profusely for the dance. Often seeming surprised by what they had just experienced. As this happened several times, I realized that in the end when you have a good connection, moves don’t matter, neither does gender. It might not look like an exciting dance from the outside, but experiencing it, it feels wonderful. Of course, you can only achieve this type of connection when both partners are open to it, which is why often when I am leading, it takes time to establish, as I first have to earn their trust. Also, there is nothing wrong with moves and patterns, and it would be a little boring, just doing one step the whole dance, every dance. But just focusing on learning steps, is not, especially in a dance like kizomba, going to make you a sought-after social dancer. Most sought after social dancers feel good to dance with, share, connect, feel, and have good connection skills as well as listening skills and musicality. Also, the simpler the moves the more you can focus on connection, the less you are thinking about the mechanics of the moves and what you will do next and you are more in the moment.
I have often heard conversations putting head to head technique and feeling in the arts (and yes if it’ not obvious by now from my examples, other than dance I have a background in Fine Arts, but also music, and theater.), but to me they shouldn’t be separated as they go hand in hand. Technique in dance is just a way to work towards having the skills to express the way you feel. I don’t believe that it’s a goal in itself.
Technique by itself is just technique, if you want to dance, to sing or paint, technique is part of it. As technique allows you to materialize fully your vision. It allows you to truly show the best part of yourself by refining your craft. But you don’t need a lot of technique to express yourself, you can have one step and express that step fully. For example, a singer can be technically amazing, but they don’t make you feel anything other than respect for their technique, while another singer can make you cry, laugh… even if they only have limited abilities, because they are feeling every note, it reaches your heart. Yet on the other hand a singer can have all the feeling and emotion in the world, but if they can’t sing in tune, they won’t be able to convey their emotions in a way that people will appreciate or get touched by. But the people who truly leave the biggest impact are often the people who have amazing techniques coupled with a deep connection to who they are and their feelings. Their technique truly allowing them to fully express how they feel.
Yes, there are steps, there are techniques, but that’s not what moves people. What moves people is truth, love, peace, courage, freedom, openness, vulnerability… That’s truly what anything in life is about that’s worth living for. It’s about truly living, not just going through the motions. Who are you? What moves you? Why do you dance? Why do you live? Engaging with that, that’s art, that’s truly dancing, truly living, that’s what moves people. That’s where true connection comes from, from knowing yourself and accepting your partner for who they are.
Technique is never enough. But using the technique you have to express what you are feeling with your partner to that music in that moment and sharing truly your soul, yourself, your being, making people feel something by feeling something yourself, with no fear. That is true courage and that’s when you go from going through the motions to making art, from executing steps, to truly dancing. That what makes you unique and what makes you stand out from the rest. That’s what greatness is made of.
Stand up, be yourself, express yourself, live yourself, create, love, dance, unafraid, inhibited. And yes work on your technique, but realize that it’s a means to an end, the end to better express yourself. From my heart to yours, thank you.
Here are 3 videos I made this month about connection, enjoy (I decided to make 3 shorter videos this month, versus the half hour video I did last month) The first video covers many of the same ideas as the blog, while the 2 other videos explore different aspects of connection not explored in the blog:
Video 1: Thoughts on the Art of Connection
Video 2: Thoughts on the Technique of Connection
Video 3: Thoughts on Co-creative Connection
Great Urban Kiz video with Ahombie & Giorgia, musicality, fun, creativity, self expression and lots of co-creative moments. Love how both partners are connected, sharing and listening to each other. Giving each other moments to shine and express the music. Great communication. https://www.facebook.com/Ahombi/videos/318234342420071/?v=318234342420071
Inspirational video that I have watched several times before, but it came back in my suggested videos this month, and I thought it was a great one to share with the theme of this blog. Although he is taking about performing dance, many of the same ideas can be transferred to social dancing. A dance always feels better when you are connected to yourself, your feelings and your partner and not stuck in the steps. https://www.facebook.com/batalla.doperoc/videos/1012163218865786/?v=1012163218865786
Great semba social demo by Jaoa and Giedre. Great musicality, their steps, movements, styling and flows matching the music perfectly. Who said Semba is just about dancing on the beat, in fact it can be much more rich in expression and musicality than that, as these dancers demonstrate. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=973306976173381
A demonstration of connection and subtility, Albir and Pacita in a mesmerizing dance. They show us that Urban Kiz/Kizomba fusion doesn’t need to be about tricks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAnZ-tlSjIg
Another great video with Willy Dianza & Rita. Great flow, creativity, musicality, connection and fun. As always, making his partner at ease by adapting to their natural movement and making it all look so easy. So good I had to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UCtYByHUmU
Good feeling Urban Kiz song, great voice, that I enjoyed dancing to this month, Crush, None DJ Zay’X https://soundcloud.com/djzayx/dj-zayx-crush-none-kizomba-remix?in=user-899475024/sets/new-kizomba
Good feeling kizomba with African influences, Eneida Marta, Africa Tabanka, DJ Papparazzi. I have been enjoying creating a great flow to this song this month. Fun to dance to and great for a connected dance. https://soundcloud.com/dj-paparazzi-2/eneida-marta-africa-tabanka-2k19-djpaparazzi-rmx?in=user-899475024/sets/new-kizomba
I’ve been enjoying dancing to this urban kiz remix of Jupiter, Je n’y Arrive Pas by DJ Marossa this month, good slow groove with interesting beats and some African influences. https://soundcloud.com/dj-marossa/jupiter-je-ny-arrive-pas-remix-kizomba-by-dj-marossa
An interesting Urban kiz with changes of rhythms that make it interesting to dance to. P. Lowe, Foga. https://soundcloud.com/plowemusic/p-lowe-foga?in=user-899475024/sets/new-kizomba
Nice Kizomba I have enjoyed dancing to this month, great guitar and flow. Jaoa Alexandre, Ngai Na Komi https://soundcloud.com/ka7s/joao-alexandre-ngai-na-komi
Hope you enjoyed the read and got inspired. I have decided to take a break from the blog over the summer (I might do some shorter blogs, I will see) but I will be back in September.