Learn Semba and Kizomba, dance forms that originated in Angola

Updated: Apr 04, 2018, 08:51 IST | Kiran Mehta | Mumbai

Mumbai will learn to start shaking with the "teacher of teachers" to Semba and Kizomba dance styles

A semba training session in progress
A semba training session in progress

"Think of it as a warm hug," says Namrata Wittke, co-founder and director of Rare Grooves Dance Company (RGDC), when asked to describe Semba and Kizomba. Together with Latin Twist, yet another entertainment outfit, RGDC is bringing a crash-course in these two unique Angolan dance forms, to our city.

Semba, a traditional folk dance, is one that has been part of the Angolan culture for time immemorial. "It's something that Angolans learn almost as soon as they learn to walk. It is performed at every significant juncture in their lives — births, weddings, and even funerals."

Mestre Petchu (centre) performs on stage
Mestre Petchu (centre) performs on stage

The 'hug' defines the Semba, as this is a dance where the bodies of the dancers touch at the bellies, while their limbs move together rhythmically. "But traditionally, it wasn't a sensual dance; it was performed between family members – mother and son, father and daughter." And, therein perhaps lies the biggest difference between Semba and Kizomba.

The latter has its roots in Semba, but was the product of colonisation of Angola by the Portuguese. The European settlers added their own energy to the dance form, giving it a sensual twist that came to be known as Kizomba. From April 6 to 8, Mumbaikars will have the chance to learn these two exotic dance forms from the "teacher of teachers", Mestre Petchu, at Corona Gardens, John Baptist Road, Bandra West.

Mestre Petchu
Mestre Petchu

Wittke says, "Mestre Petchu is a pioneer when it comes to these dances. He elevated them to more organised art, giving the moves different names, thereby making it easier to learn." Passionate about these traditional folk dances, Petchu wants to keep them alive in their original forms. "He wants to teach them, exactly as he learned them in his home-country, without adding any Bollywood jhatkas!"

Wittke concludes by saying, "Since Kizomba means 'party' in Kimbundu (one of two most widely spoken languages in Angola), participants can practise their moves at our after-parties, from 10 pm to 1 am." Participants can sign up for all three days (a total of nine hours) for Rs 7,000 (inclusive of passes to two of the three party nights), or pick any two days for Rs 6,000 (pass for one party night), or opt for a day pass at Rs 3,500 (one party night).

On: April 6 to 8
At: Corona Gardens, St John Baptist Road, Bandra West.
Cost: Rs 3,500 to Rs 7,000

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