Let me start by saying, I have nothing against Zumba! I’ve taken a few classes, and had a great time. Like everyone, when it first became popular I thought it was a great idea! And then like many people my regard for Zumba began to decline. Why? Because I saw a hugely flooded market in a short space of time. This then made me question the training/ quality of the instructors. I saw that the people at the top did not seem to care about quality or consistency of the classes. This reflected in the lack of quality and consistency in the classes I was taking. By the end I was left feeling confused as to what Zumba was actually supposed to be. And so, I left the whole thing entirely.
Now, let me also say I am not putting Kizomba and Zumba in the same category. From my understanding, Zumba is a mixture of fitness and aerobic dance moves, designed for fitness, fun and weight loss. Kizomba, and everything that falls under the Kizomba umbrella- Kizomba, Semba, Tarraxinha, Coladeira, Urban kiz, Tarraxo, Afro house. These are all art forms, dance styles and urban social dances. Kizomba is still in its baby stages, and as such, we need to treat it with care, to ensure it can grow in a healthy and sustainable way, to avoid a Zumba like crash.
I am writing to you form Sydney, Australia where the scene is small comparably to Europe, and has only really experienced some notable growth in the last 2-5 years. There are many scenes like us all over the world, including many countries in Europe. With the exception of Angola, Cabo Verde, France and Portugal, I would say we are all really in those toddler stages of development. So what does this mean?
It means if we really want to respect our dance and grow our Kizomba communities, we need all kinds of people in the community, and we need a sense of respect for the dance itself and its artists.
Every community needs the pioneers. Those are the old timers who have been there since the beginning, put in a lot of hard work you may not even recognise, and have essentially laid the groundwork for kizomba to exist.
Then you need your teachers, to spread the kizomba love and knowledge, as the dance industry is basically unregulated, the skill and experience of your teachers could vary substantially. Each teacher will bring their own flair to the scene.
You need Kizomba Artists/teachers, they are the professional dancers in your scene who dedicate their lives to growing, creating and breathing dance. They will have formal training or an extensive dance background, and spend long hours honing their dancing and teaching craft.
You need students from all walks of life, they are the lifeblood of your community, they fill the social dance floors with their amazing energy, and they fill your classes, they create friendships and relationships and a social life within the community.
You need promoters. Officially or unofficially they are the people who will always bring new members into the community and promote the dance and dance events.
Then of course you need organisers of events, festivals, etc etc, they give the community something to aspire to,and give them a space to grow and party.
We need studio owners who have dedicated their lives to creating a physical home for dance, students and artists to flourish.
And last but certainly not least, we need DJ’s, those amazing people who spend their time dedicated to music! They understand the history and the richness and diversity of Kizomba music, they understand the science of the DJ machine, and they make magic happen for you at your parties.
No wonder our communities are so incredible and keep growing. The key to nurturing your scene is to be considerate of all of these things. In small scenes, Work as a team, avoid creating unnecessary competition. Respect each others roles and skills in the community, never be afraid to learn more, collaborate, step into a new role, or step away from an old one. Avoid saturation. If you can avoid saturating your scene too quickly you will ensure it can continue to grow, saturation is the quickest way for it to collapse in on itself. Value quality, respect yourself and your teachers, artists, promoters, and DJs and be conscious in your choices. Expand the scene, always work towards inviting new potential kizomba lovers into your scene, be inclusive and proactive.
At the end of the day, each dance scene will go through its ups and downs. Nurturing a scene is the responsibility of a whole community. If you know you are a person of influence in your community, consider how your actions and attitudes will filter down. If you are an artist in your community, consider how your dance will be copied, consider how and what you teach to your students for the social floor.
Education is power. Nothing will create sustainability in your community like education. Learn about your dance, learn its history, its culture. If you have the means, travel. If you don’t, travel through your scene, learn different people’s stories and styles and see how everything is interlinked.
I love this dance more than anything, but the rate of saturation has me a little weary. Kizomba is too beautiful to face a Zumba like crash. I want it to be thriving on the streets of Sydney by the time I have kids. I want my local barista to know what Kizomba is when I mention it to her. I want to hear it played on the radio sometimes! Imagine that ?! I want so many more people to have the opportunity to learn the beauty of this incredibly magical and healing dance. Let's work together to make sure our baby communities can grow and flourish.
Invite a friend to dance, invest in your training, ask questions to your teachers, never be afraid to be a student, respect your artists and DJ’s, travel if you can, and in whatever way you can help to grow your community.
~Genevieve Rogan, 2018~
FB: Genevieve rogan dancer/ teacher/writer