INES OGOREVC   •   07/03/2020

Last week, Barbara Pavlin from Kizomba.si entrusted us with her dance story. If you haven’t read the first part yet, you can find it on the link.

This week, she shared with us her inspirations, moments from the dancefloor, comparisons between dance communities and also shared what dance taught her. She has also prepared a dance challenge so you can try kizomba moves by yourself.

You've been dancing since you were a kid, so certainly there were moments that were meaningful to you, and also moments that were funny and just stuck in your mind.

A special memory was definitely traveling to Angola, this was really one big turning point. Just going to Lisbon has also changed our lives completely. I still go to Lisbon once a year because of dance and to learn Portuguese.

I also remember performances, especially for children who are a special audience and more sincere. Salsa performances were also an interesting experience. The funny moments relate to the fact that you make mistakes in the choreography. A piece of your dress can tear up as you get stuck on a co-dancer because your fishnet tights got stuck to his button... These happend my last time in Lisbon. We danced with my co-dancer and we had a great time. I wore a strapless t-shirt and than I figured out that my shirt slipped down. Funny experiences are mostly related to pieces of clothing.

Otherwise, we always have fun while dancing, especially semba is such a fun dance where you try out different tricks and figures. Often they fail and that makes it even more fun.

What have dance taught you? Maybe something that you also carry into your private life?

It taught me that we need to practice. Nothing happens by itself, you need to be persistent and have patience. It taught me that people are different. Not everyone has the same views as you, but that doesn't mean you can't have a friendship with someone. Also that a lot of people dance to socialize and that you shouldn't take life too seriously. Let's have some fun.

Do you have any signature move? One that is your favorite or you prefer to use it?

I have no idea. In my opinion, someone who is watching me should tell you that. I certainly have one. But I did noticed, that every now and then while dancing, I do something with my left foot. I wouldn't be able to show it now. I raise my foot a little, obviously I do some styling, it comes out spontaneously. I should ask someone else or do a video analysis. I don't have a purposeful signature move, it's always spontaneous.

You got to know kizomba through festivals, you taught Slovenian community and you were also in Angola. How would you say kizomba and the communities compare in different countries?

Wherever you go, it is its own world and own style. Focusing on Lisbon and Africa: Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique..., these are all former colonies of Portugal, where kizomba is present in different forms, where the music in each country is a little different. Let’s call it Kizomba, as there is not enough time to explain the details. Music that is coming from Cape Verde is different and the style of dancing as well. In Angola, dancers from Luanda are different from dancers from Benguela. By the way they dance, you can tell where they are from.

When I started going to Lisbon and there weren't as many parties and festivals as there are today, they danced kizomba at African clubs. You almost can’t see that anymore Kizomba was danced in closed communities of people from former Portuguese colonies (called PALOP). They had their own parties and kept their culture this way. These parties were private and we wanted to visit them. Sometimes we came at midnight to the club and we were told: "Okay, but this is an African party, are you sure? African kizomba, semba«. We said: »Yes, we want to go there«, so this way they let us come in. They didn't expect Caucasians, unless you were Portuguese. So, it is quite a big difference because we do not have a community where natives from these countries would live here, but we learn from them and then we pass the knowledge on and form a community.

Today, Lisbon is very diverse in terms of urban kiz and other styles. There are also mixed parties, like we have salsa, bachata and kizomba. There is still a lot of kizomba, but a lot of modern music, ghetto zouk. They are not top performers, but they dance to the music. It's amazing when you stand on the side and see the whole dance floor breathe as one. These are really big spaces and you get goosebumps. Unlike Slovenia, you have great diversity there – locals and people from Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, from all the Portuguese colonies, and everyone dances differently. There are also parties, some kizomba, others ghetto zouk, semba or urban, so you have a lot to choose from. If you want, you can go to three parties every day  from Thursday to Monday and we really take advantage of that.

Angola, however, is a completely different scene, depending on where they are from and how old they are. Older people dance differently than younger ones. For younger, tricks are very important, they mostly dance semba, kuduro and afro house. The elderly are more relaxed. The musicality is the main thing, otherwise the music can be turned off. We dance to the music and having a co-dancer is a very important thing as well.

As for comparing the scene, in Ljubljana we have quite a few socials and there is a lot going on. We have festivals and there are socials every week. The only thing missing are real kizomba parties.

Now they are usually intermixed with bachata?

That's right. We are trying, but we all have jobs and we need to coordinate differently. Now we had kizombadas only every two months.

There only kizomba was played?

Yes, kizomba, semba, zouk, ghetto zouk, tarraxinha. If someone wanted animation, we added some afro sometimes, but not urban. We are trying to fix this because it is not good that it is only every two months, as people ask when will it repeat. We are already preparing something; we will share in due time. It won't be the classic kizombada we've been used to so far, but it may be a bit different format of social.

You often visit Lisbon. How would you compare regular parties to the ones at a festival? Are these festivals more international or are they frequently visited by locals as well?

Festivals are a whole different story, if you go to the same club during the festival or when there is no festival. It is different clientele. Whenever there is a festival, you are there with a purpose. Those days you let yourself go and don't sleep just dance. It is a closed circle of people, most of whom already know each other. Well, at socials as well, because there are always the same people and we are kinda friends. You visit the festivals to learn and then you practice. When you go out to party, it's like going to a club at home.

Maybe there is also one difference, as far as Slovenia is concerned: people in Portugal really dress up when they go out, even boys, not just girls. Girls here are quite okay, I have to reprimand the boys a little. There they really dress up; dress, shoes, hairstyle, watch, fragrance... At the club Mwangolé, which means Angolian, there is no way you can come in if you don't wear heels. They won't let you in wearing sneakers.

The general difference is, that at festivals we invite and dance with each other. In clubs, however, you dance with those you came in with or with people you know. Someone won't just invite you, female dancers won't even want to dance with strangers. If she came with a company and you impose, she will refuse you because she has a neighbor, a cousin, maybe a boyfriend there, and that is just not how it goes.

It's a different culture. Just like here, when you go to a club versus when you go to a dance social.

That's right. At clubs you don't dance with everyone there, but with the company you came with.

So they actually dance in clubs, not like in Slovenia, where we have dance socials?

Yes, some clubs are really big, they have three floors each. Some are more casual, but for others you really need to be dressed up. The table has to be reserved, you have to drink a certain amount…

Who is your dance inspiration? Where do you get inspiration to develop as a dancer?

All the people I interact with. Class participants are my inspiration. I'm there to teach them to dance, I could easily do some choreography every hour and that would be it, but our philosophy from the beginning was that we wanted to teach people to dance, even though they could do the basic level all year. Well, I’m exaggerating a bit, it was too strict at first, but that's the only way to get somewhere. If the basics are loose, you can't build on it. As for the classes, my inspiration are the students and each group is different every year. A class program is done, but it adapts to every group. Even when I go to festivals, I always go to some beginner workshops. It's not a lot of them, but you hear things that you might not have figured out yourself, or didn't hear when you started dancing. That's why I encourage our students to take lower level classes sometimes, including beginner class. It happens, for example, that you tell them a hundred things at the beginning, but they can't absorb so much. After half a year or one year of dancing, they turn to you: »Oh, really«? And I say: »Yes, of course, I told you in September...« So, it's nice to go back a bit and refresh. This is what the classes are about, bur for the dance itself, it is music. People who insist on dancing may be different, so you try to apply your dance as well, trying to adapt your body, and you are becoming more unique. Well, we are, each in their own way. I always say we don't want to make our copies, we just suggest, but then everyone has to figure out for themselves what works best for him.

You also prepared a dance challenge for our readers.

Barbara, thank you very much for joining me today and sharing your story. 

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