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By Jean-Pierre Sighé


The time is now upon us to activate this program and be of a greater service. To that, we commit!

In this San Francisco Bay Area where I live and probably in other metropolitan areas around the world, the Tango community and the Kizomba community exist in total oblivion of each other, if not in total negation of each other. It is a surprise to a dedicated Dancer to observe such a thing, especially when the mutual isolation happens between two dance-forms that have so much in common. It is mind-blowing to witness this! No dance-form is a spontaneous generation. A dance-form will borrow some elements from the previous ones. A new dance-form simply exemplifies how creative the human mind can be. We can look at something and easily come up with a modification or adaptation of the previous idea to create a brand new one. We usually do this at the great chagrin of the no-sayers who are so comfortable in that cocoon they have built around themselves...a cocoon of limitation. A cocoon that takes away our ability to expand, just like the entire Universe does.

ango and Kizomba are both:

  • Clos-embrace dances.

  • Dances of Connection where the steps are not enough to create a good experience.

  • Dances of Passion., where the sensual is present.

The biggest thing yet, that they have in common is the following: they are both the progenies of the HABANERA rhythm that came from the CANDOMBE drumming and dancing.

The HABANERA which is one of the call-responses in the CANDOMBE, has created ALL the Caribbean music we know : Reggae, Calypso or Socca, Samba, Salsa, Zouk, Rumba...etc and all the sub-divisions that came about. To know this , for a dancer is pivotal in expanding the ability to dance.

In Tango:

The precursor and generator of Tango is and will always be the Milonga. The Milonga IS the repetition of the HABANERA rhythm. We also dance the Vals (or Tango-Waltz) and of course, Tango itself. The Vals in Tango has been permeated by the HABANERA and is no longer danced as the Viennese Waltz.

If one has trouble hearing the Down-Beat, they will have a limited good experience of dancing Tango, let alone the Milonga or the Vals. This is, unfortunately the situation of a lot of people in the Tango community who are struggling to hear the Down-Beat. They don't admit it, but suffer with it quietly. The remedy we propose at Tango Magdalena, is precisely, to open the chapter of the HABANERA and study it ( read our past article “From Candombe to Tango and Beyond” ). PART 1 PART 11

Easiness in hearing and dancing in a polyrhythm environment can be acquired. One does not have to be born and raised in Africa or to an Afro culture to enjoy it. All it takes, is a little bit of opening the mind, be curious and dominate the...FEAR! Yes, FEAR is the first obstacle in the path of learning and acquiring the knowledge about Rhythm.

The other reason why people struggle to hear the Down-Beat in the Tango community is the fact that, after CANDOMBE was banned in Argentina, the entire repertoire of Tango and Milonga music was re-written in the Chamber Orchestra context. The lowest instrument that usually gives the Down-Beat is the Counter-Bass or the lowest keys on the piano. In other words, the Down-Beat big role was suppressed. What a terrible thing that was to do! Very few people can distinguish between the entire band playing and the Counter-Bas or Low keys of the piano. So, they suffer...quietly.

To hear the Down-Beat, is to be at ease in Milonga and excel in Tango, Tango-Waltz improvisations.

In Kizomba:

The precursor and generator of Kizomba is the combination of Semba and Zouk. Semba and Zouk ARE the repetition of the HABANERA rhythm. It is just that simple!

Kizomba has borrowed from Tango, many elements and many more to come. Let's focus on the close-embrace element.

The close-embrace presents to the partners the immediate challenge of holding their own axis and still be able to dance. Just like in Tango, the vocabulary of dancing in the square or rectangle shape on the floor became limited. Skilful dancers came up with curvy moves. These curvy moves allow the partners to be offset and not always be in front of each other. In Tango, came the SALIDA and in Kizomba came the SAIDA (meaning the same thing, one in Spanish and the other in Portuguese). The SALIDA and the SAIDA have the same effect, as they both allow the generation of many more moves and traveling around and with the partner.

Many in Kizomba have learned the steps and know the so called “basic steps”. However, they have now encountered the difficulty of leading and following in the close-embrace format. It looks simple when the knowledge is acquired, but it is very difficult and challenging to the “non-initiate”. So, they struggle with their balance...push and pull the partner, thus constantly destroying the axis that makes a close-embrace magical and esthetically appealing. The close-embrace dancing presents a paradox (dancing close and yet maintain our individual freedom) that can be resolved by affirming the new axis created...the AXIS OF THE COUPLE.

To be able to understand the solutions long discovered by Tango dancers in the resolution of that paradox, is to excel in composing or improvising in Kizomba, thus generating more pleasure for both partners. Here too, one does not have to be born and raised in Argentina to know and enjoy it. All it takes, here too is a little bit of curiosity, an open-mind and the domination of...FEAR!

At Tango Magdalena, we offer a simple Bridge that encourages the expansion of the dancing skills. We have proclaimed that “If you love Milonga, you will adore Kizomba”! The reverse is true. We add to that the following: “...and if you love Milonga, you will adore Tango as well!”

We were honored to be the studio where the first Kizomba class in the entire San Francisco Bay Area was taught. That class was taught by a gentleman named Dennis Richards and his partner Orial, after he discovered Kizomba in Portugal. Tango Magdalena has since included the sharing of Kizomba in its mission. That is why, we are launching our 'KIZOMBA TO MILONGA...MILONGA TO KIZOMBA” Program.

This goes well with our other mission present in our website: A.R.T.S. (the Afro Roots in Tango Society). This project was inspired to us by the Legendary FACUNDO POSADAS that we were honored to meet and connect with.

Fear not!... Open up and Join us to study and have more fun! More fun, we promise and above everything, we encourage you to be the best you can be as a Dancer! Let your Inner Dancer...shine!

“KIZOMBA TO MILONGA...MILONGA TO KIZOMBA is on Thursdays during the second session. Check our calendar.


© July 4, 2015


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