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Kizomba is about more than the dance

Fourth annual Kizomba Festival is a fun way to learn what’s behind a new rhythm
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Dancers Amadou and Emilie enjoying kizomba. (ALCES)

Do you love to dance? If so, you’re in for a treat.

On April 6, the fourth annual Victoria International Kizomba Festival will kick off for five days of non-stop music and fun.

Still, notwithstanding its exploding popularity across the world - particularly in Europe - there may still be a few folks who haven’t discovered kizomba.

The musical genre originated in Angola in about 1984 when it emerged as a fusion of semba, Angolan merengue, and kilipanga music.

Kizomba is a couples dance in which the participants dance very close together to a slowed down version of African music with a stronger base line. The songs are primarily sung in Portuguese and the movements are largely modified, elegant semba steps.

Mostly, though, kizomba is about having fun. The word kizomba literally means “party” in Kimbundu, a Bantu language spoken in Angola.

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“We call it a ‘family dance’,” said David Lamine, the president of the organization and principal organizer of Kizomba Festival.

“There’s a close connection between dancers as they move across the floor. They are touching and close, but it’s not meant to be sensual like a tango. In kizomba, it’s more like just letting someone into your space and, together, taking what the music gives you.”

The festival transcends learning new dance steps, or even developing an appreciation for the music. It also includes a fashion show, musical performances by visiting artists and local talent and some speakers who will address questions of equality, diversity, multiculturalism, respect, and inclusion.

“One of our goals is to not only expose people to this music and dance, but to the culture and value of the African community in Victoria. We want to build closer ties with the community and to do that we welcome all ages, races, and genders,” said Lamine.

Around 700 people are expected to attend, almost half of whom will be coming to Victoria from as far away as Europe and Africa, as well as the United States and other parts of Canada.

“This event is a great opportunity to promote Victoria to the world and to spread the word about what a great city this is,” Lamine said. “In the end, though, this is about the music and the fun.”

The event will kick off on the evening of April 6 and will continue until the morning of April 10. Activities will be hosted at the Victoria Conference Centre and tickets are available at alces.world/about-us.


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