Kizomba Technique thread

Discussion in 'Salser@s Anonymous' started by Kading, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    Since I've been doing kizomba, I've had a number of questions and observations, which I can't seem to ask anyone since there is no kizomba forum haha. I asked the staff and I am allowed to make a kizomba technique thread, since this subforum has nothing to do with salsa according.

    I see this thread as a good way to ask questions and share observations of the technique involved to dance kizomba. Most teachers seem to reglect this important aspect, but it is the foundation of kizomba.

    A topic I find very interesting is the stepping technique in kizomba and maintaining optimal balance while stepping.

    I noticed the following:
    1. Most people in kizomba step with bend legs all the time, they never straighten it. This helps prevent you be more stable and also doesn't make you mess up with girls hip rhythm.
    2. There is not much consistency in the way they step (ball, heel first or flat) when stepping forward. Stepping backward they obviously step ball first.
    3. It seems to help to keep your weight slightly in front, even when stepping back. If you don't the girl (who is leaning on you) will lean even more at you while you step back and will feel slightly out of balance because of it. This makes you carry their weight and also makes you out of balance.
    4. There is a much difference emphasis on stepping hard/soft/ and to lead staccato or smooth or groovy. This seems to be just style issues though and just how you prefer to dance and depends on the music too.

    One thing I'm really working on right now is the amount of abs tension I should keep. I notice that if I really tense my abs (really tense it) my balance seems to increase a ton and I can step and change direction much easier. It tires me out though. Just a bit of tension doesn't seem to be enough for me and effects my balance. I'm wondering how others use abs tension during their steps.

    What are your observations when stepping in kizomba?

    Of course you can ask other questions too if you have them :)
  2. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Not sure what you mean by bend legs. I picked up some random Kizomba videos. Which ones do you consider bend knees and straight knees in these videos:

    Usually ball first.

    A/Tango goes over the walking technique very well. The same principles apply in Kizomba.

    It is both style and musicality.

    If you have not, I will suggest taking A/Tango class. Nothing will help your stepping and balance in Kizomba than learning A/Tango.

    Of course you can ask other questions too if you have them :)
  3. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    Kwenda Lima and Challiana seem to be pretty bend during the walking. Marc Brewer seems to be a bit less bend. Didn't watch the last 4.
    The first video is actually my current teacher lol. He bends average as wel, at least more than salsa and they never fully extend (in salsa you don't 100% extend but I call it a full extend, perhaps 98% hehe)

    I don't really want to take A/Tango class since I already have too much classes I want/am taking. I also really can't stand Tango music so I would not enjoy myself there.
    I took once tango lesson before where we had to go stepping and it seemed useful. I also had problems with balance there though. Somehow even when I normally walk I don't feel really steady and have slight balance issues.

    I just came from my first kizomba party and I wondered something about the lead, perhaps you know the answer to it.
    You are suppose to keep a frame, but for example in laidy saida you also have to pull the girl to your side. How do you pull her? Do you move your right arm to pull her to the right? If so doesn't that mean leading is both body leading + arm leading? I notice the same when try to pivot her a 90 or 180 degrees. I try to use force to pivot with my right arm, and of course try to let it come from upper body too, but I lose connection quiet fast especially when more distance is created.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  4. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    I think I posted two videos of Kwenda Lima. Watching the first four again, In my books they are fairly straight legs. I don't consider them to have bend legs. Hence my original question about what you consider bend legs. To me bend legs is how some people dance bachata - lowering their whole body with bend in the knees. When walking forward, it is natural to bend knee and lower your body slightly. In my book that is not dancing with bended knees.

    In salsa you are rarely walking like you do in Kizomba or A/Tango. Salsa is also more about cuban motion. Neither Kizomba nor A/Tango has anything remotely like cuban motion in their weight transfers.

    Walking videos on A/Tango walk (helpful):

    (watch the guy. There is something odd about girl's posture)

    In my experience in order of preference, the top two dance styles which really focus on connection, musicality, balance are A/Tango and WCS. Almost every A/Tango instructor I have attended a class with (unlike salsa, over the years I have taken A/Tango lessons from more than two dozen instructors) - each and everyone of them emphasizes basic of walking, weight transfer, balance, connection and musicality right from the first class. Consider it cross training for getting better at what you want in Kizomba. Just as many salsa dancers take training in other related dance form to improve their salsa dancing. I am not asking you to go dance A/Tango.

    I am not asking you to learn A/Tango. But if you want to drill down fundamentals of walking and connection, then A/Tango is the best. I haven't seen Kizomba instructors break it down the way A/Tango instructors do. Most Kizomba instructors teaching method is "Watch I do and follow me" type.

    I am by no means a Kizomba dancer. So take my word with a grain of salt. Only reason I can dance it is because I know basics of A/Tango. I have only ever taken a few classes in Kizomba two years back and I rarely dance Kizomba. In my classes there were a few folks who also had A/Tango background. They too got it easily, while most of the other new comers had more difficult time with close hold, leading the follower and making turns. E.g. Saida - if you know A/Tango, you can lead/follow/execute Saida very first time simply by watching the instructor.

    In A/Tango the Saida is called outside walk. Here are videos of it

    To answer your question - no you don't lead with your arm. You lead with contra body movement.

    Right arm pulling her is an illusion. You put the follower to your side by directing her with your upper body. If you imagine your solar plexus and shoulders forming a V, then it is this V which is providing direction to the follower on where she should move. Usually you don't want to break the plane of this V just as you don't want to break the X in salsa. You arms move because they are attached to your shoulders. The follower has to mirror your upper body. The leader's and follower's shoulder have to face each other and maintain same distance. Therefore what follower is trying to do is to follow your upper body, when she does so, her shoulders are square with yours and at same distance all the time. That is the basic theory.

    So when you do Saida, you use your upper body (while not changing anything waist below) to turn towards follower, which causes her to respond in kind by turning. Which creates space for you to step outside her. This is called contra body motion. Less distance the better if follower is fairly new or doesn't understand the technique properly. Pivot is the term for your legs. Technically incorrect to use it for upper body. It is about timing. Once you turn your upper body, you wait for the follower to follow and turns hers. Then you step. Otherwise you will lose connection. A Steady right arm which holds the frame is there to prevent follower from moving away from you and creating a distance. A trained A/Tango follower will be able to follow you into Saida and out even without you holding her with either arm.

    (found this because I was searching for Tango walk. You can watch it with music switched off, observe how different masters of A/Tango connect, maintain their balance and walk).
  5. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Here are some outtakes about walking from kizomba open class with Ricardo and Paula (Afrolatin connection) from Portugal that I attended in february. Class was named "What every kizomba dancer should know"

    - The way of walking is most difficult thing in kizomba. He said he has been dancing about 10 years and only last 2-3 years he is relatively satisfied with how he walks

    - When we are normally walking forward, we start releasing the heel of the back foot before heel of the front foot touch the floor. In kizomba, it's different: we move the foot (preferably ball-flat) and after the front foot is flat on the floor we release the heel of the back foot. Walking back is just reversed forward walk, so the heel of the front foot is released after back foot is flat on the floor

    - He made a comparison of walking in kizomba with walking with heavy boots through the water to the waist. Feet stop after each step, but body keeps moving and doing the (weight) transfer

    - If you want to go forward, you must have intention of the body first and then move the foot (similar principle like in other dances), in order for the lady to follow that movement

    - To go back it's the opposite; first lift the foot, than intention of the body and then move the foot (maybe not the best possible explanation, as if body of one partner starts moving forward, body of the other one will also start moving backwards before the foot, but it's generally how it is also explained in b/room standard, to avoid weight moving back too far)

    Observations in my venue are that most people are not getting way of walking in kizomba yet. They move like when dancing salsa or social ballroom (starting releasing the standing foot from the floor too early), so they are not grounded enough. Walking in tango, both ballroom and argentine, is also considerably different, so I'm not sure that examples of tango are useful here (at least if it's about walking/stepping). Other problem is that their rhythmical interpretation is also wrong. Kizomberos step in a way that the weight transfer is complete on the beat (most of them at least). People here are stepping like in social ballroom (as we had somewhat similar dance called social foxtrot decades before kizomba arrived here), touching the floor with moving foot approximately on the beat and doing the weight transfer after the beat, so they all look like they are 1/3 to 1/2 of the beat behind the music. It looks like our perception of the rhythm is a bit different than how black people do it, so we have to learn the way how they move first. Third problem is body movement which doesn't look right at all on most people. It's partially connected with first two problems and partially with different way of weight transfer in kizomba, compared to salsa or social ballroom or how people usually walk here
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
    LarsM likes this.
  6. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    This one doesn't look right to me. Especially his backward walk isn't right, he is backpoised, much pushing off the heel (it's used in ballroom however). Also body movement doesn't look right, legs too straight etc. There is a link to their more recent video, which looked a bit better to me at first sight, but ...
  7. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    Thanks a lot this information helps!
    But for a laidy saida (you step forward on 1, than you step to the back on 2, letting her walk to your side on the 2 as well, than you contra shift upper body on 3 (dissociation we call that twist), and she gets back in your line on 4). How can you lead the 2 (where she steps outward) with your body? She has to step straight to your right side (without her twisting her upper body) on the 2.
  8. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Kizomba instructors usually teach to do "dissociation" (or contra body movement as we name it in ballroom) at 3rd step, but you have to start action in your body earlier, during 2nd step, so that dissociation is at maximum when needed and it's the moment when lady steps with right foot outside your foot. By doing that, you are automatically leading her to your side, so she will naturally do the next step outside. You have to adapt to your partner here. With experienced followers, very little dissociation is needed, maybe 10-20 degree. With beginners, you need more and sometimes you need to lean with your body from the waist slightly to the right side or in severe cases even slightly move her more to your right with your right arm (if you feel she will panic when you lead her into unexpected direction)

    If you do a saida as a part of left turn, you do that dissociation by simply turning your body less, so that you end moving diagonally in relation to your body on 3rd step

    You can also do a slight prep, turning you body slightly to the left on the 1st step even if you are not turning during saida, and then start turning the body to the right (in relation to hips and feet) during 2nd step

    If you are not turning left during saida, you can also use hip movement of the lady to help this, as her hips go (or should go) to the left (from your viewpoint) on the 1st step (provided that she knows how to move her hips proper way and/or that you assist that with your leading), and then to your right on the the 2nd step, adding slightly more room for her step

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  9. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    Thanks. Her 2nd step is already outside though. So that would mean you need to dissociation before step 2? But that would feel weird since you contra-twist(dissociation) and your second step is your right so you should be twisting to your left no?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  10. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero


    In ballroom standard, contra body movement position means that body isn't turned into the same direction as feet, but is rotated (towards the partner). This is used during steps outside partner. This position is at step 3. But you should start rotating the body (to the right) before you start 3rd step - during 2nd step. That step (I mean 2nd step) would be described (in br standard terms) as right foot back (or diagonally back or even to side, depending how you want to do it), with right shoulder leading. After you transfer weight on the left foot during 3rd step, you start rotating your body back to the left, so that next step of the partner is inline
  11. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    But how do you make her step to your right side on the second step? Second step (of the lady) is already to the side if i understood it correctly. While third step is basically forward for her
  12. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Yes the follower is stepping outside to your right on the second step. May be VIt is counting the steps little differently - in the first step when you transfer your weight from front (left) foot to back (right) foot, Vit is perhaps calling it the second step. Therefore when the front foot actually goes back, he is calling it third step.

    Since the first step is kind of a rock step, I could call the second step same as you, when your left foot goes back. I agree with Vit's explanation of where the disassociation/contra body starts.

    1. You step forward with your left foot. Your shoulders are straight. The follower moves her right foot back

    2a. You transfer weight from the balls of your left foot which is in the front on the rock step to your right back foot in place, with balls of right foot touching the floor first and then its heel coming down. At this point your weight is on your right foot. There is hardly or no weight on your front left foot. It is free to come back for second step. The follower transfers her weight forward from the right back foot to the left front foot in place.

    2b. You start rotating your shoulders towards your right as soon as your right foot starts transferring its weight on the balls. By time the right heel touches the floor you have already positioned your shoulders to right. Therefore by end of your first step you and follower is already in contra body position. As soon as the follower starts to transfer her weight forward to the left front foot in place, she feels your contra body lead and turns her shoulder right to face you. At this point follower realizes that when she brings her right foot forward on the next step she will be walking outside left to the leader.

    3. In the second step you move backwards with your left foot behind your right foot. Follower steps with her right foot forward placing it outside of your right foot.

    Therefore on her second step, the follower is already walking outside to your right. The signal to her to do so was turning your shoulders to the right for contra body movement in the middle of step 1 as you transfered your weight from front foot (left) to back foot (right)
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  13. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Yes, I numbered steps the way how I would number them in ballroom, meaning (for leader) 1step - LF forward, 2nd step - transfer weight to RF back (with partner preparing to step outside), 3rd step - LF back (in CBMP, with partner stepping outside), 4th step RF back (with partner inline). I had in mind simple "linear" version of this move (as you also described it), without turning or moving sideways. Development of this would be doing roughly the same steps, but turning to the left, or just start moving diagonally back after first step etc, where body action changes slightly, although the principle is always the same.

    I'm aware that ballroom type of description probably isn't most appropriate for describing moves in kizomba, as things are also described in relation to line of dancing etc, which we don't have in kizomba, so I tried to find some example that we could use for observation. But, it turned out that this simplified version of saida almost isn't used in demos. Even in classes I attended, every instructor used slightly different alignment of these steps. So some will say step to side with RF on the 2nd step, some will do that step diagonally back, some will turn a bit to the left on the first step and then move back or diagonally back etc ... Kading's teacher demos are unfortunately very unclear when it's about saida. I'm not saying his dancing is bad (in kizomba terms), but if he is teaching the way how his is dancing on those demos, I'm not sure anybody can learn anything except big number of bad habits. Teacher should demonstrate simplified version first, without unnecesary kizomba styling like twisting of the feet during steps, shifting the partner to his left and right, bending his body allover etc, because it's hard for beginner to do it without sending the partner a number of contradictory information and confusing her. Those things, different alignments of the move etc should be introduced later, when people are already able to do it simple way.

    So in simple version of saida as you described, I would do exactly as you described and I think it's the best idea to try this way first. Only thing I'm not sure that is as you described is weight distribution. My knowledge about tango is very limited, but in general, in both ballroom and tango, we try to do complete weigh transfer from foot to foot when doing steps. But, way of walking in Kizomba is considerably different. I could be wrong, as nobody explicitly explained this on the classes I attended so far, but I think that due to specific type of walking, a kind of split weight is used most of the time (when doing normal steps, so taps, points etc are exception), so when we do the step, we transfer say 70-80% of weight to the other foot. Since this transfer is relatively sharp, we can still feel on which foot we are. This is how I'm dancing currently (or at least how I think I'm dancing), but maybe I'm wrong. Need to check this

    edit: maybe this demo could be suitable for observing relatively simple version of saida (pos 0:02, 0:24 etc), until we find a better one at least

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  14. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    CBM in "dance " does NOT originate in the " shoulder " and upper body. It commences rotation thru the hip (s) and is conveyed upwards to what is technically called, a Left "side " lead . Its 2 prime purposes are... 1.. Allows body contact if needed thru any given figure whilst dancing outside partner,,and,,2,, precedes actual rotation, and prepares/assists ,as in figures that are "turning " .
  15. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    I feel clueless but...this seems to contradict each other? You already finished step 1 in your explanation when you start contra body movement.
  16. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    The weight "changes" in tango, are not comparable, to virtually any other dance style.

    There is a delayed action from the back foot, before the weight is released, and transfered to the fwd/back foot. Reason? there is NO "swing " action thru the legs in Tango ( which Im sure you know ) .

    This action (delay ) creates a slight division of weight between the feet , when this is utilised in the correct manner .

    Its also worth mentioning that, the "Frame/Arms " have a more compact position, than other closed/semi closed, dances .
  17. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    I mean my knowledge about argentine tango is very limited, but I'm of course familiar with how we do steps in int. version (which is, as you said, considerably different than in ballroom standard "swing dances")

    In kizomba, it's again different than in any other style - after doing a step, other (standing) foot is left flat longer than in other dances (which is possible as the steps are really short), and then relatively quickly moved to new position (this is what I mentioned that people in my venue are mostly not getting, as it's not how we usually walk). So I suppose more weight is also left on a standing foot than in other dances, until the moment when we actually move that foot to the next step
  18. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Kading, did you check the demo by Ivo and Shani (first saida at 0:02), which I think is quite close to Offbeat's description, with small difference that Ivo slightly changed direction of movement after 1st step, so he doesn't just transfer weight back to right foot, but the foot goes slightly to the side when going back - it's actually easier that way, as by doing that he already positioned the girl more to the side (otherwise he would need to rotate the body more to the right to achieve the same orientation of the body vs. direction of movement)

    What are similarities and differences between this and how your teacher explained it ?
  19. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    The 1st step, is PREPARATION, a LEFT side lead, The CBM occurs on the 2nd step
  20. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    All the teachers said something different so they aren't much help.
    The video you see I see a very clear lead after the first step (but before the second) to the right.

    1:38 you also see the lead clearly leading her to to right after the first step, so her second step is to the right.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014

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