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There is a new dance growing in popularity in the international Latin dance scene (even though it is strictly speaking not a Latin dance).

Kizomba is a dance style from the African country Angola, although much of its development has happened in Portugal under the influence of the French Zouk Love music. The Kizomba music to which it is danced is easily recognized by the strong rythym emphasizing the first and fourth beats of the bar, on which both the snare and kick drums are played. The songs are smooth, sensual pop tunes that borrow from ideas from both modern RnB and Angolan traditional music.

The Kizomba dance is danced in a closed frame, meaning that the leader holds the follower in their arms. The bodies of the dance partners are typically in contact with each other, except during some of the fancier patterns, which means it is not a dance for people with body contact issues.

What is unusual about Kizomba, compared to the other Latin dance styles, is that the basic step is not symmetrical. This means that what your right and left foot do are not mirror images over the course of music. There is not one basic step to Kizomba, but two or three (depending on how you count them).

The simplest basic step involves simply transferring your weight between your feet on every second beat. Typically the leader makes this movement using their body to indicate to the follow that their weight is being shifted. This basic step is often used to begin the dance, because it is slow and sensual and helps the leader build connection with the follower.

The second basic step involves taking two steps and then slight push with the free foot to mark the third beat, and then continuing. This basic step only takes three beats to complete, hence it very quickly gets out of syn with the structure of the music. For this reason many Kizomba dancers use an extended version of this basic that runs over five counts to bring the dance back into syn with the music. We call this basic step three.

In the explanation below we will explain basic steps two and three joined together into a single basic that covers two bars of the music. If these terms don't make much sense to you, don't worry, just read through the steps and count as you make them, it will make sense once you start to dance it.

As we say in all of our dance instruction posts "You should find a local dance school!" There is nothing better than learning from instructors in person. You will meet other beginners and get to practice with many other people. Dance schools usually form great little communities of healthy like-minded people. But, you might feel shy about starting class not knowing anything. So use our instructions as a primer to make sure you feel comfortable before you start your class.

We will explain the footwork with a focus on the Leader (typically men's) timing. For the followers just change every instance of the word 'left' to 'right and vice versa.

Start: Start the dance standing with your feet side-by-side, but a comfortable distance apart from each other. For both of you, your partners right foot should be between your feet. Leaders shift all their weight onto their right foot and followers onto their left.

One: Leaders step slightly forward with your left foot as you count 'One'. Followers will be stepping back slightly on their right foot.

Two: Leaders transfer your weight back onto your right foot as you count 'Two.' Followers transfer weight forward onto their left foot.

Three: On the third count leaders push (or tap) their left foot. The weight is not transferred, it should feel like a soft little push, like you want to transfer your weight, but shy away at the last minute. For followers the movement is the same but with the right foot.

This is the end of the first part of the basic step

Four: On count 'Four' leaders step forward again with their left foot. Followers step back with their right foot.

Five: Leaders transfer their weight back onto their right foot and followers come back onto their left foot as you count 'Five.'

Six: On count 'Six' leaders step backward again with their left foot, transfering all of their weight. The followers step forward with their right foot.

Seven: Leaders transfer their weight back onto their right foot and followers come back onto their left foot as you count 'Seven.'

Eight: Count 'Eight' is like count three in the first part. The leaders push (or tap) their left foot. The weight is not transferred. For followers the movement is the same but with the right foot.

Once you arrive at count 8, you in position to start the whole pattern over again. Try to practice this pattern at home with some slow Kizomba songs like the one shown below. Then get out there and find a dance school to put it in action.

 
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