Monday, November 4, 2013

Adventures in Nicaragua: Blessings From A Dancing Frontier

I've been teaching kizomba for almost three years now and while I don't have direct access to the roots of the dance being so far away from Angola and Portugal, I am still learning every time I dance and teach it.

Helping to grow the dance in Seattle has helped me learn so much beyond just dancing. I started out with a wish to have more people to dance kizomba with, to share why I love this dance so much with others, to learn from danceres that aspire to dance like or with and to be able to start teaching dance. The journey so far has opened up many opportunities and blessed me by crossing my path with so many generous and amazing people. I was at the forefront of this huge wave that still has all these rippling effects.

It hasn't been all goodness and light, there have been some hard lessons along the way which have helped me learn more about myself and how to deal with others who do not always share the same beliefs and work ethic.

I'm so lucky that I was able to experience being at the forefront again.

I was recently in Nicaragua for their Salsa Congress to teach and perform kizomba. It was a lovely experience. Most memorable because the people I met and taught and danced with were generous, grateful and hungry to dance.

I didn't know this before I went there: salsa, bachata and kizomba are all relatively young dances in Nicaragua. They have not been dancing salsa for a long time like we have here in the US. So, without realizing it, I had the pleasure of seeing and being a part of a growing and thriving dance scene for salsa, bachata and hopefully, kizomba.

In Nicaragua, salsa has not been around for very long. They are dominantly Casino (Cuban) style salsa dancers. Linear dancing (as they call it) or dancing on a slot is a new phenomenon for them. Its only been around about 3-5 years. Dancing on2 has only been around for the last few months! On top of that bachata is also new, maybe 1-2 years old. And Kizomba? Its brand spanking new. I had the privilege to be one of the first people to expose these dancers to this beautiful dance.

I was met with such welcome and generosity, it was impossible not to be infected by it. What I walked into is a community of dancers so hooked on dancing, so thirsty for it that their hunger to learn and desire to dance and joy in dance was like a splash of cold water in a hot, dry desert. Such a blessing to be a part of. It made me so thankful for the opportunity to help shape their dance experience. It wasn't just about introducing kizomba (which was so exciting in itself), It was also a gift to be a part of a community that just loves to dance.

It made me realize how easy it is to take for granted and how lucky I am that I have access to all this dancing here in Seattle, in the US. For them, they are just starting and so hungry for more. Its like being with kids and their unadulterated joy in discovery and play.

I could see them struggle with the differences in movement between salsa and kizomba. Some of them took to it right away, others were fighting against body movements that they just conditioned themselves to do.

I don't often like to claim responsibility for a lot of things that I do because they don't just involve me, they involve other people too. I do think of myself as a positive catalyst for change. The idea that I could influence someone else's dancing so that they eventually incorporate dance in to their lives and derive from it all its joys is just too cool for words. I love seeing people blossom through dance and its even more gratifying to be able to introduce it and plant dance seeds.