Kizomba is both a dance and a style of music that originated in Angola. The word kizomba means “party” in the Kimbundu dialect spoken in the Luanda, Bengo, Malanje and Cuanza Norte provinces of Angola.
Kizomba music came from a fusion of semba and zouk. Semba is a traditional style of music from Angola. Zouk is a style of music that was developed in the French Antilles and became extremely popular throughout the Caribbean. It was brought to Africa by the group Kassav from Guadalupe. Musicians from Cape Verde also greatly influenced Angolan music with their musical styles of cola-zouk and cabo love that were in turn influenced from the Haitian musical genre known as kompa (compas, konpa). The name kizomba was used to distinguish this new fusion style in Angola from the traditional semba. So kizomba is as a type of afro zouk.
These type of fusions occurred a lot throughout the PALOPs (Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa), African countries where Portuguese was an official language. These countries, also known as Lusophone Africa, are: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. (Equatorial Guinea was added in 2011). Kizomba became a popular label for the afro zouk fusions in the PALOPs. Eventually, other labels began to appear, usually chosen by the most successful artist in that new musical genre.
The movements used to dance to kizomba music were not called kizomba initially. Passada was a generic term used for dance steps in the PALOPs. Passada referred to a basic walking dance that incorporated side to side movements, travelling and rotations, a universal basis for many dances. So there were variations of passada used in the different countries. Passada is the base for the semba dance which was initially used for this new Angolan afro zouk fusion style. However, semba dancers adapted their movements to better suit this new style. This adaptation was called kizomba to match the music. Pedro Vieira Dias (known as Mestre Petchú) is thought to be the first to develop a teaching methodology of the kizomba dance so that it could be taught in dance schools as it became more popular outside of the PALOPs.
The “Kizomba Umbrella” refers to the various musical genres to which you can dance kizomba even though they are not kizomba music. This is for two reasons: 1) passada, the basis for the kizomba dance, was used throughout the PALOPs to dance to various styles of their music; and 2) musical fusions created in the PALOPs contained many similar rhythms. This intermixing of rhythms was enhanced by the emigration of musicians from the PALOPs to Portugal, particularly Lisbon. For example, the traditional coladera music from Cape Verde was fused with zouk to create cola-zouk which, with the addition of hip hop and R&B influences, resulted in the development of guetto zouk, one of the more popular styles of music to dance kizomba. The diagram above shows only some of the many different dance styles to which you can dance kizomba.
To learn more about the dance of kizomba, check out the classes offered at Dame Más Dance.