José N’dongala is a 41-year-old entrepreneur from Angola. He arrived in Belgium when he was 15 years old. He learned to dance at a very young age in Angola. At the tender age of 5, he already knew how to dance very well. For many of us kizomba may be just a dance but for José kizomba is a big part of his culture, it’s also his life and his passion. Kizomba flows daily through his veins to oxygenate his body and mind. Kizomba is his identity. It’s linked to semba and to the Angolan culture, which are part of his cultural heritage. For him, it means deliverance, joy, freedom and most of all, it means partying. It is also a day of living, socializing and a big stress reliever.
José often uses the following Kizombalove proverb to express it:
“Kizomba/Semba without Angola is not Kizomba/Semba and Angola without Kizomba/Semba is not Angola. Because Kizomba/SEMBA has Angolan DNA linked to the country’s past.” (Kizombalove proverb )
What made José believe in Kizombalove was his firm faith for God and the fact that Europeans and Americans have to learn to embrace other cultures. He also wanted to achieve excellence by inspiring others and help them dance as we do in Angola by helping them go outside of their comfort zone. With the idea of “Kizombalove” he wanted to build a professional structure to preserve our Angolan values: ”Kizomba and Semba classes, workshops and teacher training.”
With Kizombalove he also wanted to develop a style, thanks to the methodology he created, to help non-natives ( people outside of Angola ) dance and articulate the Kizomba steps exactly as we do in several cities in Angola. That’s what we mean with Kizombaloves’s dance style. Before he founded Kizombalove Academy José was doing a research about this dance and music culture. He started the research in 2000 and in 2006 he finally founded the dance school:”Kizombalove Academy”. In 2012 he finished the first part of his research and he made his book:”José N’dongala Kizombalove Methodology-Kizomba Teachers Course” available.
It was very difficult for José to introduce Kizomba in the Benelux, especially in Belgium. “Nobody believed in me, except my students” he says. “My dear friend Justo Velasco Kojairi, a salsa event organizer, also believed in me.” He helped me to organize my first “Mega Salsa Kizombalove event” with him. This way José could create awareness and succeed in a progressive way to introduce the dance officially in Belgium. In the Netherlands, I had less difficulty to create a dance schene (scheme / scene?) because I was able to partner with leading organizations in the world of dance in The Netherlands. This helped me to officially initiate the Kizomba movement through bootcamps, workshops and later parties and teachers course.
Among the organizers, we recognize Morry Krispijn ( Salsaventura ), Brian & Mechteld ( Salsaaddiction ), Renee de Zeeuw ( Zouklovers ), Nucita ( “Fleur de Miel” ), ( Club Fiera ) Taiti & Cristel ( Salsa Dance Danceschool TD ), Alcindo Silva ( Tropical Caliente ) and Jane B. ( Salsaconquista ). This is the true story not yet known by some new converts to Kizomba/Semba. For Luxembourg, I asked my artist friend Frans Soenen to work on a dissertation on how to implement our vision there. We also received financial support from the Flemish Community, the Flemish Community Commission, the Region of Brussels Capital, the City of Brusssels and from the Angolan Embassy in Brussels.
When José was introducing Kizomba in the Benelux, the salsa scene was prevailing. Zouk dance scene ( Lambazouk-Brazillianzouk ) brought by Claudio Gomes in the Netherlands and promoted via Claudia de Vries ( Brasazouk Dance School ) and Renée de Zeeuw ( ZoukLovers/Dance School ) was also dominant. Pioneers such as Jaime Aroxa, Adilio Porto and Claudio Gomes had much success at that time. Mister Dragon & Maisa Montes ( Zouk Revolution ) also had enormous success in the Netherlands. Therefore it was not not so easy to come up with a new idea. But since I had a solid mission statement with a clear vision in my mind and a well structured “teaching methodology”, I was convinced that I could make my vision come true.
Today when I look back I’m thankful to God to have given me the strength and wisdom to realise my dream:”To pave the way for future generations.”
Was it difficult to become an entrepreneur in Belgium? Yes and No! All depends on how you establish your mission statement. You should also have a very good and solid environment. I was surrounded with motivated students and collaborators. One of my oldest and faithful student/artist is”Frans & Sarah Kizombalove”. He was responsible for the sound, image and videos of the dance school. Currently, he is managing the Kizombalove Academy. This happened when I went back in Angola in 2014, I came back one year later. Frans Soenen still continues to manage the dance school as a fathful Kizomba/Semba advanced course alumnus. He receives the support of Stephane Lijke, also one of my amazing and vibrating artists.
Nowadays the Kizombalove team has about 11 professional artists/performers working hard to keep the fire burning and keep my vision alive. My sincere thanks to all of them: Sarah Amaro, Jenifer Hamaide, Sarah Binta, Jody Mamour, Selyne Val-mo, Nydia Lima, Jonathan Schengue, Mathieu Incana, Teddy Malela, etc…..The team is still growing. I would like to expand it to other European countries in the future. I often receive people from other countries in Belgium to share Kizomba and Semba culture with them. They often come to follow our Kizomba and Semba teachers course.
In ten years we will have partners in several countries sharing and teaching Kizomba and Semba according to the teaching method I’ve developed . Currently we are located in Belgium, however we have partners in the Netherlands, Angola, Germany and France. Other countries also make part of our strategic endeavours for the future.
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Written by Maria Pedro Miala
Maria Pedro Miala is a Mother, 2016-2017 Champion for Change at Empower Women for UN Women. She is a Change maker, a Volunteer, a Mentor to African Students and has 10 years experience as a Nurse in Health Care.