Elvis Mascarenhas & Namrata Wittke win Kizomba Dance Olympiad held in Paris
Mumbai-based dancers and teachers – the supremely talented Elvis Mascarenhas and his gorgeous dance partner Namrata Wittke – recently won the Kizomba Dance Olympiad. The event was held in Paris where Kizomba and Semba dancers from all over the world took part and the dancing duo Elvis and Namrata made Indian flag fly high by winning the coveted title.
Post their win they were invited to Spain for workshops and shows and now the twinkle toed couple is back to Mumbai. I spoke to the super excited jodi about their Kizomba dance journey. But before that a few words about Kizomba: Kizomba is a dance and musical genre that originated in Angola in 1984, Kizomba means ‘party’ in Kimbundu, a Bantu language spoken by the Ambundu in Angola. Semba has been danced in the 1950s in Angola. In the 1990s, when the actual Kizomba music got more and more popular, Angolan Semba dancers started to adapt their Semba steps according to the tempo and flavour of the Kizomba beats. The Kizomba dance is a essentially a couple dance from, in which the torso and right arm of the leader will guide the follower across the dance floor. It is the goal to synchronize perfectly as a couple with the music and express it through elegant footwork, smooth body movement and attitude, called Ginga (for women) and Banga (for men). Kizomba is known for having a slow, insistent, somewhat exacting yet sensuous rhythm as the result of electronic percussion. It is danced accompanied by a partner, very smoothly, slowly and sensuously, and with neither tightness nor rigidity. There are frequent simultaneous hip rotations coordinated between dance partners, particularly in the quieter refrains of the music.
Now, excerpts from an interview with the winners:
Tell me about your training in Afro Latin dances and how it all started?
We started our Latin dance journey in 2009, for five long years we learnt under the guidance of Kaytee Namgyal at his dance school ‘Salsa India’ where we both trained in various Latin styles. Then to further enhance our skills we went to New York in 2014 where we trained for 6 months again in all the Latin styles from some of the best names in the business. Later we moved back to Mumbai and started our own dance company called Rare Grooves Dance Co. Post that we have been travelling every year internationally to upgrade and do teachers training courses and we make sure we always came back and spread the knowledge in Afro Latin styles the right way. We must admit that we have been extremely fortunate to have had the great opportunity to train with some of the best teachers in the world of Kizomba Semba. Some of our favourites have been names like Bonifacio, Carla Andrade, Tony Viser, Mestre Petchu, David Campos and Eddy Vents. For Salsa ofcourse our very first teacher Kaytee from Salsa India, Eddie Torres the Mambo king NY, Huracan Dance company, Afrocusol and Stevie Insua.
What made you choose Kizomba in particular?
Kizomba dance comes under a wide umbrella of African dancing genre originating in Angola. The music ofcourse of what attracted us first to learn the dance and the connection it involves. We find music of Kizomba absolutely infectious and mesmerising and yes that is what got us pulled into the dance as well and now we are totally crazy for this dance form.
What went in the preparing for the world championship?
Preparing for the Olympiads of Kizomba/ Semba in Paris took a lot of hard work. First we had to qualify the Asia qualifiers held in Delhi by Muxima India Festival to finally represent at the world stage. Consistent practice, upgrading with teachers, listening to the music, training our bodies was a few things we had to work on for a few months. But since we consistently train whether competition or not that helped us be at a good level to compete with the creators of the dance form.
You have participated in many other championships please tell more about it?
Yes, we participated in the Salsa World Summit in Miami 2018. Elvis won the Solo Rising Star Championship for Salsa Solo category and Namrata won second runner up in freestyle. Elvis has won many other reputed championships in street styles representing India in the top 4 at Juste Debout Paris in 2017. Each time we win a dance championship it motivates us to get even better for the next one, for us dance is like a drug the more we drown into it the more we want it.
How did it feel representing India at an international platform and how did the world react to an India win a Latin championship?
It was an extremely surreal and overwhelming experience. Especially owning to the fact that we were the first ever Asians to represent at the world stage in this category. I don’t think the Angolans and Europeans were even aware of the fact that this style was being danced in India and to win it was whole different surprising experience. We were immensely appreciated by renowned dancers and teachers from all over the world, so at the end it was totally worth all the effort and hustle we put into preparing for it.
Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacific University USA, an honorary doctorate in performing arts from the National American University, He is a World Book Record holder, a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honored with three National Excellence awards, one National Achievement Award and Dada Saheb Phalke award by the Government of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]