For Semba the roots go way, way, way back – Lucia Nogueira

Video

Terence: Yes. (Unclear)I’m on the line with Lucia Nogueira ….. Did I say that correctly?
 
Lucia N. Yes.
 
Terence: So you are an international Kizomba and Semba instructor.
 
Lucia N: Yes
 
Terence: You currently live in San Diego and you’ve been dancing kizomba since 2004?
 
Lucia N:  Yes.
 
Terence: You are currently teaching at the dance north country in California.
 
Lucia N: Yes that’s right.
 
Terence: OK. And I know it’s in addition to Kizomba you can also dance Semba, Tarraxinha, hip hop, and West Coast?
 
Lucia N: Just a little.
 
Terence:  Swing just 10 days it’s just a little. So tell me I know you are from what is it to Cerro which is that in the Azores Islands
 
Lucia N: that’s right, in Portugal.
 
Terence: tell me what that’s like because I’ve never been there.
 
Lucia N: well you’ve done your homework and that’s great (laughs). The Azores is a very tiny island, some tinier than others. The smallest is around four hundred inhabitants and where I live is the 2nd largest, around 50000 if I’m not mistaken. So it’s a different experience because you very much know everyone. And now all over the world and meeting new people so I never lose that sense of “wow!” you know in comparison where I came from and where I am today.
 
Terence: OK I understand that. I have a family who is in the country I think you know a. Lot of the know where and so they stay in a small town so it’s pretty much the same being everyone knows each other it’s very easy
 
Lucia N: So where is your family from?
 
Terence: my family is from the states obviously. I have family in Virginia. So this is a small town called Franklin Virginia. So yes the middle of nowhere just far is everywhere you know so as we’re a small place you love me.
 
Lucia N: and it can get lonely.
 
Terence: Yes. After that, you went to Lisbon for school correct?
 
Lucia N: Yes.
 
Terence: And you studied public administration did you say?
 
Lucia N: I studied public administration and management. So that’s my background.
 
Terence: Okay. I have never been to Lisbon so tell me, what was that like?
 
Lucia N: Lisbon is amazing. It’s one of my favorite cities and I have traveled a lot so I have about 3 or 4 places that I have found absolutely amazing and Lisbon is one of those places. The city of my heart. It has everything. It’s closer to the beach, it has an amazing culture, amazing food, amazing wine, and people are so nice. You have there, people from all over the world so it’s kind of like a tiny melting pot and it’s not a city that is too chaotic when you compare it to other cities. So you can just drive for 20 to 30 minutes and you’re in the country. So it just has everything.
 
Terence: I only know America, how does San Diego compare to Lisbon or Europe I guess?
 
Lucia N: Well, probably the beach part because (laughs)
 
Terence: OK. They both have beaches.
 
Lucia N: The water’s cool here and there. But apart from that, not so much actually.
 
Terence: Are people different around the world or are people at San Diego the same as in Europe?
 
Lucia N: they’re so different. It’s completely different. Different rhythms, different ways of reacting, a lot of misunderstanding, which should make it makes it fun at the end of the day, but it can be very complicated.
 
Terence: What’s your first name because I’m very curious?
 
Lucia N: my first name isLucia Norgueira.
 
Terence: oh sorry, your spoken language.
 
Lucia N: Portuguese of course.
 
Terence: How long have you been learning English?
 
Lucia N: Actually I’m not having a great English day because my baby didn’t let me sleep so much.
 
Terence: Hey! You got home late yesterday I know.
 
Lucia N: But I’m learning in school and I would watch a lot of. English movies and stuff. I also lived 2 years in London which didn’t exactly help my English in terms of speaking English in the US because the expressions are completely different, the way you say “yeah” I think to complicate things even more.
 
Terence: So I contacted you because you have an amazing dance background in Kizomba and everything else. I want to know, Can you can talk about the culture and the history of Kizomba as best you can?
 
Lucia N: Kizomba is not actually a very ancient form of dance. The music started in the eighty’s and it was a development from Semba because Semba has been around for longer. So even the dance Kizomba, it just comes into the development of this music and is adapted to the music, so Kizomba comes from Semba dance. It’s the same kind of dance but adapted to a different form of music.
Terence: So did you start with Semba first or what did you start with?
 
Lucia N: No actually when you start, and in Portugal, what happened is that I was with my friends, we say “PALOP” which means Portuguese speaking African countries. So when I moved to Lisbon I didn’t know anyone and the first people that I became friends with was Cape Verdeans. It’s highlands as well. So the way that we would do things was very similar because Lisbon for us is a big world when you come from a highland you know. It was learning the process and Cape Verdeans, they have a lot of things are similar to us Azoreans which is, they’re humble people, they’re hard hardworking. They are respectful, the way that certain words sound, the food, so I found that to be a little bit of a home away from home kind of thing.
 
And so and then I met our other friends from Portuguese speaking countries. And that was it, I just learned about their culture. So when you are with your friends and go to the club and all of that, you don’t just land one thing for the whole experience and that separate. When you go to class today, you can’t say “I’m just going to learn Kizomba today or I’m going to learn Semba today”. You don’t know what you are going to learn today. You just go in for the ride and whatever they want to do.
 
Terence: I definitely understand that. I say on my journey I actually started with private lessons at Ana Virginia. And she thought the best thing for me to do is learn Semba first and then transition into Kizomba. I find that for me I’m very lazy, so I do about Semba but it is just too high tempo for me, so I like because it’s fairly easy.
 
Lucia N: In a way, it makes sense and everywhere else in the world is going to start with Kizomba and then eventually learn Semba. The reason why is because the further back you go the more history, the more background, the more culture, the more technique you’ll have to learn. But if it’s something new, it doesn’t have the time yet to develop it because you know a full round form of art. And so it’s easier to start with Kizomba in that sense, but if you really want to do it right then Semba is where everything comes from so you’re just going to the roots and that’s the process.
 
Terence: I want to talk about the roots of Semba. I know is from Angola, Africa. Can you expand upon that which you know of it?
 
Lucia N: When we refer to Semba we refer to this new generation form of Semba which is mostly Semba show and tricks and all that. But samba, the roots go way-way back and nowadays we have this form and this is called actually “Semba show” So it’s not exactly the Semba. And this Semba show started with 2 guys dancing together and they are called “Brushu” and “Abrusha”. It’s basically the witch and the warlock. So these are guys, they would just have fun together and make a show or a spectacle like a comedy out of it, and that’s what transformed it danced into something else, so it became more common to dance like this. But back in the day, you could not ask a lady to dance and do any form of tricks because people would just look you up and down and tell you “what the hell do you think you are doing?” So guys would do this together but not with a lady.
 
So nowadays that is very common but even before partner dance. As you know it’s not part of African culture by itself. And very few that I know of (I only know of one example in the continent) where they said that they did have a partner dance, but in Angola, that’s not the case. Everything is more Solo dance. So it comes from Masemba and Masemba is a belly touch. So belly touch with a specific rhythm with a specific cadence. So before you will dance Semba by yourself and you would use tribal dance as a form of dancing Semba, and MAsemba with this belly touch. And Mesemba comes from way back, you cannot tell exactly when it started but the first register for samba is probably in the 17th and 18th century.
 
So a lot of people will say that Samba in Brazil comes from Semba. Well if when they say this is not exactly from Semba as we have it today, it’s from Masemba history.  
 
Terence: You know your history of it and it amazing.
 
Lucia N: Sometimes when you know too much you don’t know where to start (laughs).
 
Terence: I understand that and I’m curious, what is your favorite to dance?
 
Lucia N: I like everything. It depends on the mood, who you’re with or the D.J.’s so important. If it’s a house party, I will definitely prefer Semba because it has so much energy, so much life and if we put for example “ghettos Zouk” in the house party, the mood is more mellow and you want an upbeat kind of thing and alive and fun. It just depends on the circumstances at the time. But if I’m just relaxing at home I’ll look for something mellower but if I want to have a party in the house, I want something more upbeat.
 
Terence: I’m curious. The ghetto hoop is a genre of music correct?
 
Lucia N: Yes, it became a genre of music but in classes, I differentiate so people can tell which one is which. However, when you go to Portugal, you don’t have to differentiate because all these different genres, they fall into the spectrum of Kizomba. Kizomba can be 2 things. It can be the umbrella under which all of these dances and music will fall into. It can be Kizomba Kizomba because of the specific form, which is Kizomba that comes from Angola and that has a lot of influence not just the more the Angolan sounds like Semba, Kabetula, Rebita, and many other forms but also with the Caribbean sounds, which is Compak, Zouk and also others. sometimes hear a little bit of Calypso or Ka dance, it has also more influences because Zuk itself is also not a pure form, it has influences from other music from the Caribbean.
 
And so in this case you know when we dance Kizomba, we end up dancing all of it, so that’s why I said that I didn’t learn one thing, I’ve learned a lesson at all because when we say Kizomba we are just referring to the whole thing and that is specifically linked to one genre.
 
In the world, people confuse as ghetto Zuk. So if you actually play your real Kizomba, people will say “oh can you just play Kizomba?” No this is Kizomba Kizomba, which has ghetto Zuk in the same umbrella or Lahaina which is also is very popular nowadays.
 
Terence: Yea. I want to talk about that.
 
Lucia N: Okay. Hot subject.
 
Terence: Because Tarraxinha is a very close dance, I know I could be speaking wrong but to my knowledge, they would hide Tarraxinha in a Kizomba dance?
 
Lucia N: Tarraxinha, it’s very interesting because before it wasn’t a form of dance and it wasn’t a form of music, it was just almost like a sub-genre of Kizomba, so it would be something inside Kizomba or some movement inside Kizomba.
 
For example, you have a Kizomba song but there’s a point where it’s some breaks and becomes more mellow, so you would us Tarraxinha in that slow point and not continue doing your side to side because it doesn’t adjust. For example, you can have a song which is very upbeat (like you can hear a stable beat), but the voice is mellow. For us we look at some somebody here in the U.S. and because you have a lot of the hip hop and whatever, so mostly everyone will dance to the beat but for us, the voice is the most important thing because the voice is what it is talking to you, it is what’s giving you the message. So you cannot ignore the voice and go to the beat.
 
If the voice is very mellow, you all would use Tarraxinha and just in a very slow form, just because the voice is really low and very soft, even if the beat is telling you “you know go step”.
 
Terence: Please why did you say Tarraxinha was a hot topic?
 
Lucia N: No I was just kidding (laughs). It can be because of the closeness.
 
Terence: It is very close.
 
Lucia N: Yes. So for certain cultures that are not used to it, it can be intimidating. Even in Angola, Tarraxinha was not a thing that you would do to in a family gathering…
 
Terence: save to say they hid it right?
 
Lucia N: Exactly. So you wouldn’t do that just anywhere before and also one of the reasons why is because Tarraxinha started in “Manejo” so it didn’t start in the have family kind of place, it started in the club. So to bring that into a family environment, it took time in that all families would just be OK with it. Nowadays, you have people of all ages dancing in it, it just depends how open you are with it. One of the best dances that I’ve seen was a brother and a sister dancing together. They are family and they danced amazingly and it didn’t mean anything to them that that closeness was just human contact. The difference Tarraxinha and Kizomba is beside the closeness in the music is that the movement is small. So the rhythm is so good, it doesn’t have to be anything else than just to dance. People confuse it but it’s a shame.
 
Terence: I definitely understand what you are saying. I want to change the subject slightly. I’ve done some research on you and you have an amazing list of accolades (achievements). What advice would you give to people who are currently chasing their dreams?
 
Lucia N: I would say first and foremost, get out of your head. That’s where all the problems are. For me, I was born and in a very small island and sex isn’t there and it’s like a woman’s place is in the kitchen and you know “oh don’t go too far out just keep it there”. So for me, to get out of my own head and my own obstacles and the obstacles that were imposed by a society where I’m from, and just get out of the damn box was the hardest thing. And it took me a long time to do that. A lot of people came into play to actually help me and push me to do that. So what I would say is surround yourself with people that get out of your comfort zone, not people who will say “oh you’re amazing. You’re great” because that will just get you the same place over and over again. If you’re amazing and great, you don’t have to change.
 
People just say “Go try this, go try that”. That is OK, but just try doing it that way or try harder and that’s the people you want to surround yourself with; people that actually go and do things that don’t let themselves be stopped by whatever circumstances society is placing upon you.
 
Terence: I’m curious. You have been dancing for so long, what lessons have you learned from dancing that you have translated into everyday life.
 
Lucia N: Be open. Be free. Express yourself. Don’t be afraid. Yes, those were the most important ones. However, what comes with this dance when I mentioned culture, is I was blessed to be in touch with women that had such a different experience than my own.
 
Women that you know often were the rocks for their own families that make things happen, and that transformed my life entirely. It made me stronger, it made me fierce, it made me not be afraid, of just getting out there and expose myself and take on the wrist, and I think this is the biggest value that I got from the dance, and somehow I think about the ways that it could bring this to my students because culturally speaking and besides of the world, women have been gaining so many rights and so many opportunities, yet it seems like we’re not doing the most of what we have gained. And especially since yesterday was the International Women’s Day, I spent the majority of day meditating on this that when we’re giving too much, sometimes we don’t fully grab it and use it. And when we face hardship, we actually are able to be strong and to do something amazing with that hardship, because we are learning from it and this is what the dance gave me because this dance has an amazing spiritual background, so when we go all the way Kizomba, Semba and the traditional dance, which is tribal dance, it has a lot of meaning and content in it and it’s related to a lot of things within yourself (your connection to the mind and connection with yourself) with being a woman to everything that surrounds life is into dance, so many cases such as training where you don’t write in more modern dance forms.
 
Terence: I definitely understand that according to my knowledge, Semba has some pain in it that the music does, to the days of oppression.
 
Lucia N: One of the big traditions of Semba is called “Lamentos”. “Lamentos” means sorrow, so it is a way to express sorrow. Semba will be something that will be very present for example, in the funeral because it’s a way to express and connect to death. And this comes again in this very same tradition of dance is connected to life, you cannot take dance away life and it’s a way to express any change in life. Anything that happened would be connected in a way and you will be able to express it through dance, which if you think about it, that would be great if we could do this every day now days instead of going to a therapist. We would be very healthy people.
 
Terence: So you are now a professional instructor, a full-time instructor. Tell me about that because I’m in the military so I don’t know anything about what it’s like to be a fulltime dancer.
 
Lucia N: Wow. Are you in the air force or navy?
 
Terence: The Coast Guard.
 
Lucia N: Coast Guard OK. So it’s a very different form of life. My husband is also in the military (he is in navy). And it’s very interesting to observe him and to observe the military culture especially here in the U.S. because you are used to doing things in a certain way and in a very confined way, somehow structured. And in being a full-time dance instructor, of course, you have to be structured and manage your business and all of that, but there are an openness and an exit artistic expression that comes with it, and the emotional side is almost like a letting go of your emotions constantly.
 
Before, I used to work in management, so is entirely different. Office Job, you know that you have to go in and do certain things and those things will be repeating themselves. Being a full-time dance instructor and especially going from one culture to another one, I feel like I’m constantly having to adapt, having to absorb, having to learn and read people, so I can do my job and connect and do in the best way that I possibly can.
 
Terence: I’m curious. What do you think is the hardest part of being a dance instructor?
 
Lucia N: So for me, the hardest thing was to be able to get out of my comfort zone of getting your monthly paycheck on time, no stress and where you have to be every day at a specific time. And suddenly you have to juggle things because you have to be quick on knowing where you have to be at what time, which part of the world, which languages do they speak, learn a little bit about geography because sometimes I end up in places that I’ve never heard (laughs) And you know it’s just so much to juggle which doesn’t give you time to just to settle and become comfortable.
 
Terence: So you’re actually doing a lot of traveling then?
 
Lucia N: at the moment not actually this much because I just had my baby girl, so I need to get it sometime. And another thing is that I’m also changing Visa. Before I was in the US with an artist Visa and I are changing to a green card, so that also does not allow me to travel during that process.
 
Terence: OK I understand. So just to go back to that original question so what is your favorite part about being a dance instructor?
 
Lucia N: People. Being surrounded by people, seeing their smiles and how they opened up and how happy they are achieving something or just having fun that that is what truly makes me happy and want to do it again. Seeing how it changes people’s lives even beyond the dance floor.
 
Terence: Ok. I definitely understand that you have taught other instructors and I guess one of them is someone named Tee boy. I used to live in Virginia as I told you. I actually took a class with Tee boy. He taught a Kizomba dance and he was really cool.
 
Lucia N: Tee boy is an amazing dancer and I actually hope that he can visit soon and that we can do a workshop or something around this area. He is an amazing dancer, so when you say I talk taught Tee boy, what I had to teach him the most was how to teach him how to navigate in this international dance floor. Because sometimes you can be a good dancer but that doesn’t translate into somebody else learning.
 
Terence: Of course there are plenty of people who are not great teachers.
 
Lucia N: So it’s the ability to actually translate what you know that we had to focus and so we were together for 3 months and I invited him to teach me in different places and we would talk a lot and stuff like that. And after 3 months (he really is a fast learner) he was able to be on his own, which is great.
 
Terence: What was your learning process like?
 
Lucia N: That’s a great question. And a lot of people ask me that question especially because I’m navigating in a man’s world and a lot of people out there, they ask “What is it that she has?” I am a wife, woman, teaching an African dance. I’m a big lady in the dance where the image for the woman is they’re tiny, they smile, they’re so pretty, and they don’t say much. That’s, unfortunately, the image that people have for women instructors on its own.
 
I am also navigating in this very male-dominated the world and so people are always asking “What is that she has?” and what I have is the ability to create a bridge in between where you are and where you want to be, so almost like a translator. Translate in the sense that” I understand quickly what is it that you’re not understanding and how can I translated it into words, in a way that you can really understand? That is related to my background of course because I used to do coaching I used to be a trainer. And of course, I love to read. I love to read about psychology and culture and try to understand people the most that I can. And that is actually my biggest strength, it is how to do that.
 
Terence: I read how you both lead and follow and in my opinion, I also dance Salsa, Kizomba, Tarraxinha and I honestly believe that when you learn to both follow and lead, it only makes you a better dancer overall.
 
Lucia N: Yes. Because when I think about it, dance is dynamic. It is action-reaction. So, if I would only know one part, I would know “this is the reaction but what is the action” or vice versa. In learning, you know the whole spectrum of the dance makes you better for sure. And then, of course, is not just learning is how to translate that into an explanation that anyone can understand. The majority of instructors, once they get a good explanation and they just memorize that explanation and reuse that the very same explanation. I can use the explanation that made more sense for the majority of the people, but I’m not going to use it all the time because I don’t know if that’s going to be the best at that specific time, so I’m constantly adapting and constantly reviewing the things that I do and how I do them, so that I can create a better experience. And I never assume that it’s the student that is wrong. If I can be a bit hard when I teach, I never assume with the student, I always assume that I have to be a better teacher and to actually find new ways of doing things so that that person can also understand.
 
Terence: I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you. A week ago, I did not know who you are. But as of today, I can see you are a wonderful instructor and I would love to take classes with you. Because you do not only know the culture and the background of this, but I can tell you are passionate about this, I can tell you love it. And I know you have the skill to back it up and I know you do.
 
Lucia N: yes you’re right. I absolutely love it and very passionate about it. I’m also going to be very honest with you, a week ago I also didn’t know who you were (laughs).
 
Terence: I don’t have as many accolades as you so I definitely understand. I want to talk about Miss Riquita Alta. I was in Houston Texas and I also took a Kizomba class with her and she was astounding. She’s actually from Angola if I’m not mistaken. How do you know her?
 
Lucia N: oh I love Riquita. Riquita it is just amazing. For me, Riquita besides being your friend, she is she’s the first woman teaching solo in the UK. So for me, she is a big inspiration.
 
Terence: I also want to say I’m going to have her on this show as well (laughs). Continue.  
 
Lucia N: Yes I really admire her because she was not afraid to do that. Of course, being in London in the U.K. is the north of Europe, so teaching by yourself there is easier down teaching in the south of Europe because the South is there a little bit more sexist. And in the north of Europe, you can pretty much do that and people will find it strange. So when I went from Portugal to London, I knew the role that I have to follow, even though I know a thing on the opposite side but I just have to keep it within my role.
 
Being there and seeing Ricky to teaching there and seeing Riquita teaching on her own, it became such a big inspiration. I’m so fortunate that I went and I started teaching there. Eddie Nance is also a big inspiration for me because he pushed me into teaching classes again and I was like “I’m out of my comfort zone”. Yet it was that same mental block of “I cannot be outside of my room, I’m a woman and so I shouldn’t be leading, I shouldn’t be doing that” in its own cultural basic.
 
Riquita is amazing. If you hear me, Riquita, thank you for opening the roads for the rest of us.
Terence: I will definitely send her this clip. I want to talk to you about being ready. At what point do you just jump straight into something or should you be hesitant or wait?
 
Lucia N: Oh that’s a great question. What I always say is that I get ready on the way there. Because if you just sit and wait to be ready, you will never do it. You keep pushing it back and so what I do is I always sign up before I’m ready, and then I have absolutely no excuse to be ready. Don’t wait around too much. Just force yourself to do something. If you only have half of it, it’s way better than nothing.
 
Terence: I’m curious, I was reading a lot about you and I read that you suffered a lot of backlash to you leading while you are instructing. I have never been outside the states so, is it a lot more sexism outside the US or is it the same as you are experiencing here?
 
Lucia N: The culture that surrounds this dance, is a very male-female centered. When you dance, for example, if I lead, I have to put male energy into it. Because the dance itself is connected to life, so when you are leading, you are actually becoming a man and when you are following you are actually becoming a woman. Even the movement that comes with it, djing, you being the djing for the woman is you being fully a man and you moving like a man. So that’s why it’s so confusing because the backlash comes from that feeling of why you want to be a man. And very quickly, I understood that because I understand the culture I understood did that, then I would just simply ask “OK I understand what I’m saying, but is it poorly executed or do you actually like it?” And then I say “no I like it but it doesn’t feel right. And that’s because of this cultural side of today.
 
Terence: Can you tell me about your Kizomba teacher training for women?
 
Lucia N: So this started a few years back because I felt that it was very isolated so I felt like whenever I would go to a festival teach on my own, I would be pretty much the only woman there. And everywhere I would go, constantly the same thing, that I would not find someone some other woman teaching on her own. And I did not want to be the exception to the rule. I wanted it to be more common and more open. Also, I really hated the fact that you would have a class or some classes, just the men or the male instructor teaching on his own but even if he had a female teacher, there would be nothing said on the class. They will just stand back and be pretty and at the end do a demo and that’s it. And I wanted to develop something that women could take charge but a lot of people think that the Course is for women who want to lead in the dance but no, it’s for women that can be leaders. Even if they’re working with somebody else and they’re just going to be teaching for the ladies, you can still be a leader, you can still inspire you, you can still understand the dynamics of the dance floor fully so you can better incorporate their own instead of just being there silent. Because the women in class they play the same as the guys to the course. How come the leads will have explanations about the techniques, but the follows are often receiving this message “No you just follow. You don’t have to do anything”. But following takes a lot of work.
 
Terence: Of course, in my opinion, because I’m a solo lead and I think to follow has the more difficult of a job in my opinion.
 
Lucia N: It’s just different. Evan says harder than leading.
 
Terence: What I mean is every leader is different. I’m always going to be the same but you have to adapt to every dance.  
 
Lucia N: In terms of like creating muscle memory, it’s hard to because you have to be fast adapting, you have to be fast letting go and. And this is why sometimes nowadays male students are learning how to follow, but what they actually do is the same as leading. They memorize a set of steps and then they say “oh I know how to follow now”. And then I’m like “No you still have to learn how to manage it”. And the hardest thing. It is to learn techniques that do not involve them memorize every right step. Of course, you still have to know your basic. That involves a lot of maneuverability, a lot of flexibility and quick change of pace or rhythm of timing and to adapt to anyone.
 
Terence: If there was one piece of advice you could give to someone to instantly make them a better dancer, what would you tell them?
 
Lucia N: Stop memorizing steps, started listening to the music and what the music is saying. Because nowadays, it feels very formatted. It feels like everyone is dancing the same way, focusing on the beat but without actually listening to the music, to the message, and have fun with one another. And this is what I missed the most. It doesn’t have to be a perfect better dance, it doesn’t have to be full of stuff, we just have to acknowledge one another and have fun together. Yes, that’s the spirit of being in a community. It is that I see here you, you see me, let’s have fun with it.
 
Terence: What do you see for the future of Kizomba, Semba, Tarraxhinha and other types of dance?
 
Lucia N: That’s a very hard question. I feel that kizomba will always be around.
 
Terence: (laughs) I hope so.
 
Lucia N: in its cultural form. And however, this fusion and all the things that have happened with Kizomba is getting further and further away from what it is. And because of the pressure of Marty, it is developing so fast. The first urban instructors, that wasn’t so long ago. Nowadays they’re almost old school because it’s such a fast pace and there’s this pressure to create the next big thing and the next big thing that doesn’t make sense anymore. But hopefully for Kizomba, we are still able to keep our niche B.S. commercial as flashy as it won’t have all these marketing stunts attached to it, but somehow it stays because people will always want to come back to him a simpler place, center place, and a grounded place in your life. And culturally speaking, of course, it will be carried out. Because it’s attached to culture and to history.
 
Terence: I know to my knowledge, I heard that there’s a little bit of bumping of heads between Kizomba, Semba and the new fusion, know he’s only a symbol and like the new Fusion. Could you tell me about that?
 
Lucia N: I guess there is a bit of conflict sometimes, and this is again is due to lack of understanding one another. Sometimes, the Kizomba dancers, they’re called the haters are there were always trying to create conflict. And it’s simply because they do not understand that it’s not just a dance, it’s a way of life. It has a history behind it and the history is quite painful. So, when you take your own experience which is “this is just a dance, it’s just a step, let’s just have fun”, and you make fun of a dance, it has a bigger meaning behind, you are becoming disrespectful even though they don’t know they’re doing it.
 
So the best thing is to actually be educated enough to understand that this is not just a dance, it has a meaning behind. This to make people be together and connect in the time war, in a time of despair and a time of losing identity, in the time of not being allowed to be yourself, to be unable to experience freedom and so when somebody comes from Europe or the US And whenever and they just talk about it in a way that is very superficial, it’s hurtful for a lot of people that had experienced a lot of hardship. And it’s simply not fair, but you know laughter is not made of fairness.
 
So I believe that the way that we have to go around this is to educate, is to let people know what things mean and how they have such deep meaning, such a connection to ourselves as human beings and of course this is related to all history, but every human being around the world, we experienced the same things and your step into that thing that at the end of the same, were all the same, we all have the same experienced, the same emotional process the same thing and we can all experience hardship. If we can just connect that, we will be able to be more respectful towards one another.
 
Terence: That’s 100 percent true. I think you’re saying be more empathetic right?
 
Lucia N: That’s right.
 
Terence: I want to switch gears on you and I want to ask you a series of these rapid five questions. And I want you to try and answer these under 5 questions. If you could meet anyone dead or alive who would it be?
 
Lucia N: Mother Teresa or Elvis.
 
Terence: What is your favorite thing to do outside of dancing?
 
Lucia N: Reading.
 
Terence: Why did the chicken cross the road?
 
Lucia N: Because she’s very adventurous.
 
Terence: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
 
Lucia N: my baby girl.
 
Terence: If you had one superpower, what would it be?
 
Lucia N: Flying.
 
Terence: what is your favorite Salsa song?
 
Lucia N: I’m going to have to skip that one.
 
Terence: What is one item you can never live without?
 
Lucia N: my phone.
 
Terence: As a child, what did you want to be growing up?
 
Lucia N: Dancer or an English teacher.
 
Terence: It turned out. What advice would you give 25-year-olds this year?
 
Lucia N: Don’t take things too seriously.
 
Terence: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received you?
Lucia N: Don’t focus so much on things they will happen naturally.
 
Terence: And a counter to that, what is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
 
Lucia N: Many people telling me that I should be doing this or I should be doing that.  
 
Terence: OK you are stuck on an island for 5 days and you can only be three things, what are they?
 
Lucia N: Water. Food. A canoe.
 
Terence: to get out of there. What is your favorite dance Congress?
 
Lucia N: OK I do have a few favorites.
 
Terence: Give me one.
 
Lucia N: I cannot do that.
 
Terence: alright. Give me all of them.
 
Lucia N: One that is happening right now is “Awake” in Australia. And I’m actually missing it, I wish I could be but at the same time it’s OK, I’ll get there next year. Luxembourg Kizomba festival and Warsaw Kizomba festival. Those three are amazing.
 
Terence: I think that’s all of them. You did a wonderful job.
 
Lucia N: those were a very good question.
 
Terence: I’m glad you liked them. So speaking on events, I know you’re going to be at the spring Bakoda weekend. How did you get involved in that?
 
Lucia N: Well I’ve never been to Damvant before. The organizer just reached out to me and said told me that Eddy was going to be there so I just accepted the challenge. But I’m still looking forward to meeting them, have a lot of fun with them. My brother Eddy vent is going to be there.
 
Terence: how did you get the chance to write down the Bucoda date of when it’s coming up?
 
Lucia N: This next weekend.
 
Terence: Tell me about Eddy Vents. I saw a couple of videos of you with him teaching which was actually very helpful. You were talking about the frame which is very important (dance frame). Tell me how you met him?
 
Lucia N: I met him when I went to London. He invited me to work with him. In the beginning, we were not dancing partners or anything, we were just collaborators. And even nowadays we do not dance partners in the usual sense of the word. We are but because we collaborate a lot with one another. But the rest of the time we just teach on our own. I love to work with Eddie. He is Amazing in his own way. You have to understand how he is because of the thing that I like the most about him is because he never stays still. He is never happy with where he is. So interesting to have someone to debate with, to bang heads with. If you don’t fight, if we don’t have a debate, we don’t grow, we just stay in the same position. And that’s what I love about him. And every time though we go away and come back, we’re different people, we have different instructors and so every time we need to adapt to one another very fast.
 
Terence: I felt what you are saying is as two instructors, you both are forever students and always learning right?
 
Lucia N: yes.
 
Terence: I understand that. I want to ask you this. What advice can you give to beginner dancers who feel like they’re stuck in being beginners?
 
Lucia N: Well first, just practice as much as you can. Listen to music all the time. In your car, listen to it in your house. It will connect but you need to practice. It’s not just one hour or two hours per week that’s going to make it happen. You know you’re getting dressed while getting dressed try doing a few dances moves ahead. You are having your hair combed, nobody cares!
 
Terence: And what about for intermediate dancers? What does it take for them to take that leap from intermediate to advanced?
 
Lucia N: That is a bit harder because, at that point in time, you need to surround the people that have the ability to push you further. It could be your dance instructors. So the best thing that they have to do is to go to their dance instructor further and say “I want to take things further. And I would like to have a special mentorship or a dance private or I would like you to guide me to go from here to there. Can you build this strategy for me?”
 
Another way is if you can actually be surrounded by amazing dancers. Join a group of amazing then just stay there for a couple of weeks. It’s more expensive but it’s an amazing thing.
 
Terence: and it will be worth it though.
 
Lucia N: So you have two ways. Either you can go to someone that can guide you or so you can or you can be surrounded by people that cannot guide you but you will be infused into it.
 
Terence: have you visited Angola?
 
Lucia N: Yeah I’ve been there, It’s just such an amazing experience, and people have the chance to do that and you can actually do both things there which is to be surrounded by people that have an amazing level and to talk to some instructors they’re very good and they can actually provide that mentorship. So you just stay there for a month and you just come back to a great dance.
 
Terence: How would you vet a teacher? Like when you see a teacher dance and you like it. Is that good enough or how would you vet a teacher?
 
Lucia N: me I observed teaching skills in the classroom. It doesn’t have to be a proper class setting. It can be just hearing that person explain something to someone and how well they can they connect and how well they’re explaining it, not from their own cultural background but to the people that they’re teaching. So that’s really the most important thing. And of course great dancers, they can be taught how to be teachers and then some people have more of it than others. The only thing that I feel that is mandatory is that for you to be a teacher, you will have to serve, you have to give. If you are in for the thing for me, you’re into it for the wrong reasons and you might probably not get far.
 
Terence: I’m curious. When I say the word “musicality”, what does that mean to you?
 
Lucia N: That’s a good question and that’s actually a question and a word that has been trolling around a lot especially here. With urban kids, they say “there is a lot of musicality, Kizomba doesn’t have a lot of musicality. That’s very wrong. The problem is that in Kizomba and Semba, the musicality is harder to teach than urban. The music that they use is very simple and very easy to hear. When we are talking about Kizomba, especially about Semba, it’s so hard to adapt a class to it. It is so hard to work with musicality and work with a particular sound. Do we go with the voice or the beat or the guitar or come back to the voice? Which one is the instrument that is going to stand out in the process? And the high thing is that it’s really hard to perform and dance in a good way and it’s very hard for us to teach musicality. So, whenever I teach in his character as it takes me a long time to prepare. Way longer than a regular class. Because I will have to adapt very well to the music that I pick and can have to know how to explain what we’re going to follow this instead of that. And what are the alternatives? Could you actually choose something else besides this one and this is why it’s harder to teach?
 
Terence: I understand what you are trying to say there that teaching musicality is part of what music has to do and I Definitely understand that. I really appreciate you taking time to talk to me today, you have a wealth of knowledge information.
 
Lucia N: thank you so much for inviting me. It was a pleasure. It was as great meeting you and I hope that I get to meet you in person.
 
Terence: I would love that. I want to say this. I know you have spring Bacoda coming, do you have any events coming up?
 
Lucia N: I do but I will have to check my schedule.
 
Terence: I know you are a busy lady. How people reach you?
 
Lucia N: OK so you can reach me through my Facebook profile or my page and you have their link that you can and message me or e-mail me directly from my Facebook page. I also share a lot of my e-mail address and my phone address. I’m working on my website but I’m really not the most organized person in the world when it comes to doing those things. I’m just so passionate about the classes that I keep going but things like the website are that people are being behind me. But yes you can reach me through my Facebook page. You can definitely get in touch. And send me an email directly anyone if you want to if you have questions if you have glasses and think you can write to me.
 
Terence: I would post your information. I got you. So before we wrap things up, is there anything that you will like to say or will like to get off your chest?
 
Lucia: no not really. I just feel lucky that I had the opportunity to do this as part of my life, and I’m so happy with the people that I got to me. I’m very blessed. Also very blessed to meet you today and talking to you. And that’s pretty much it.
 
Terence: I know you have a baby and then you have a busy day planned so like to say thank you so much for taking this time to talk to me. I really appreciate it.
 
Lucia: Thank you, Terence, have a good day.
Terence: Yes. (Unclear)I’m on the line with Lucia Nogueira ….. Did I say that correctly?
 
Lucia N. Yes.
 
Terence: So you are an international Kizomba and Semba instructor.
 
Lucia N: Yes
 
Terence: You currently live in San Diego and you’ve been dancing kizomba since 2004?
 
Lucia N:  Yes.
 
Terence: You are currently teaching at the dance north country in California.
 
Lucia N: Yes that’s right.
 
Terence: OK. And I know it’s in addition to Kizomba you can also dance Semba, Tarraxinha, hip hop, and West Coast?
 
Lucia N: Just a little.
 
Terence:  Swing just 10 days it’s just a little. So tell me I know you are from what is it to Cerro which is that in the Azores Islands
 
Lucia N: that’s right, in Portugal.
 
Terence: tell me what that’s like because I’ve never been there.
 
Lucia N: well you’ve done your homework and that’s great (laughs). The Azores is a very tiny island, some tinier than others. The smallest is around four hundred inhabitants and where I live is the 2nd largest, around 50000 if I’m not mistaken. So it’s a different experience because you very much know everyone. And now all over the world and meeting new people so I never lose that sense of “wow!” you know in comparison where I came from and where I am today.
 
Terence: OK I understand that. I have a family who is in the country I think you know a. Lot of the know where and so they stay in a small town so it’s pretty much the same being everyone knows each other it’s very easy
 
Lucia N: So where is your family from?
 
Terence: my family is from the states obviously. I have family in Virginia. So this is a small town called Franklin Virginia. So yes the middle of nowhere just far is everywhere you know so as we’re a small place you love me.
 
Lucia N: and it can get lonely.
 
Terence: Yes. After that, you went to Lisbon for school correct?
 
Lucia N: Yes.
 
Terence: And you studied public administration did you say?
 
Lucia N: I studied public administration and management. So that’s my background.
 
Terence: Okay. I have never been to Lisbon so tell me, what was that like?
 
Lucia N: Lisbon is amazing. It’s one of my favorite cities and I have traveled a lot so I have about 3 or 4 places that I have found absolutely amazing and Lisbon is one of those places. The city of my heart. It has everything. It’s closer to the beach, it has an amazing culture, amazing food, amazing wine, and people are so nice. You have there, people from all over the world so it’s kind of like a tiny melting pot and it’s not a city that is too chaotic when you compare it to other cities. So you can just drive for 20 to 30 minutes and you’re in the country. So it just has everything.
 
Terence: I only know America, how does San Diego compare to Lisbon or Europe I guess?
 
Lucia N: Well, probably the beach part because (laughs)
 
Terence: OK. They both have beaches.
 
Lucia N: The water’s cool here and there. But apart from that, not so much actually.
 
Terence: Are people different around the world or are people at San Diego the same as in Europe?
 
Lucia N: they’re so different. It’s completely different. Different rhythms, different ways of reacting, a lot of misunderstanding, which should make it makes it fun at the end of the day, but it can be very complicated.
 
Terence: What’s your first name because I’m very curious?
 
Lucia N: my first name isLucia Norgueira.
 
Terence: oh sorry, your spoken language.
 
Lucia N: Portuguese of course.
 
Terence: How long have you been learning English?
 
Lucia N: Actually I’m not having a great English day because my baby didn’t let me sleep so much.
 
Terence: Hey! You got home late yesterday I know.
 
Lucia N: But I’m learning in school and I would watch a lot of. English movies and stuff. I also lived 2 years in London which didn’t exactly help my English in terms of speaking English in the US because the expressions are completely different, the way you say “yeah” I think to complicate things even more.
 
Terence: So I contacted you because you have an amazing dance background in Kizomba and everything else. I want to know, Can you can talk about the culture and the history of Kizomba as best you can?
 
Lucia N: Kizomba is not actually a very ancient form of dance. The music started in the eighty’s and it was a development from Semba because Semba has been around for longer. So even the dance Kizomba, it just comes into the development of this music and is adapted to the music, so Kizomba comes from Semba dance. It’s the same kind of dance but adapted to a different form of music.
Terence: So did you start with Semba first or what did you start with?
 
Lucia N: No actually when you start, and in Portugal, what happened is that I was with my friends, we say “pileup” which means Portuguese speaking African countries. So when I moved to Lisbon I didn’t know anyone and the first people that I became friends with was Cape Verdeans. It’s highlands as well. So the way that we would do things was very similar because Lisbon for us is a big world when you come from a highland you know. It was learning the process and Cape Verdeans, they have a lot of things are similar to us Azoreans which is, they’re humble people, they’re hard hardworking. They are respectful, the way that certain words sound, the food, so I found that to be a little bit of a home away from home kind of thing.
 
And so and then I met our other friends from Portuguese speaking countries. And that was it, I just learned about their culture. So when you are with your friends and go to the club and all of that, you don’t just land one thing for the whole experience and that separate. When you go to class today, you can’t say “I’m just going to learn Kizomba today or I’m going to learn Semba today”. You don’t know what you are going to learn today. You just go in for the ride and whatever they want to do.
 
Terence: I definitely understand that. I say on my journey I actually started with private lessons at Ana Virginia. And she thought the best thing for me to do is learn Semba first and then transition into Kizomba. I find that for me I’m very lazy, so I do about Semba but it is just too high tempo for me, so I like because it’s fairly easy.
 
Lucia N: In a way, it makes sense and everywhere else in the world is going to start with Kizomba and then eventually learn Semba. The reason why is because the further back you go the more history, the more background, the more culture, the more technique you’ll have to learn. But if it’s something new, it doesn’t have the time yet to develop it because you know a full round form of art. And so it’s easier to start with Kizomba in that sense, but if you really want to do it right then Semba is where everything comes from so you’re just going to the roots and that’s the process.
 
Terence: I want to talk about the roots of Semba. I know is from Angola, Africa. Can you expand upon that which you know of it?
 
Lucia N: When we refer to Semba we refer to this new generation form of Semba which is mostly Semba show and tricks and all that. But samba, the roots go way-way back and nowadays we have this form and this is called actually “Semba show” So it’s not exactly the Semba. And this Semba show started with 2 guys dancing together and they are called “Bruxo” and “Bruxa”. It’s basically the witch and the warlock. So these are guys, they would just have fun together and make a show or a spectacle like a comedy out of it, and that’s what transformed it danced into something else, so it became more common to dance like this. But back in the day, you could not ask a lady to dance and do any form of tricks because people would just look you up and down and tell you “what the hell do you think you are doing?” So guys would do this together but not with a lady.
 
So nowadays that is very common but even before partner dance. As you know it’s not part of African culture by itself. And very few that I know of (I only know of one example in the continent) where they said that they did have a partner dance, but in Angola, that’s not the case. Everything is more Solo dance. So it comes from Masemba and Masemba is a belly touch. So belly touch with a specific rhythm with a specific cadence. So before you will dance Semba by yourself and you would use tribal dance as a form of dancing Semba, and MAsemba with this belly touch. And Mesemba comes from way back, you cannot tell exactly when it started but the first register for samba is probably in the 17th and 18th century.
 
So a lot of people will say that Samba in Brazil comes from Semba. Well if when they say this is not exactly from Semba as we have it today, it’s from Masemba history.  
 
Terence: You know your history of it and it amazing.
 
Lucia N: Sometimes when you know too much you don’t know where to start (laughs).
 
Terence: I understand that and I’m curious, what is your favorite to dance?
 
Lucia N: I like everything. It depends on the mood, who you’re with or the D.J.’s so important. If it’s a house party, I will definitely prefer Semba because it has so much energy, so much life and if we put for example “ghettos hook” in the house party, the mood is more mellow and you want an upbeat kind of thing and alive and fun. It just depends on the circumstances at the time. But if I’m just relaxing at home I’ll look for something mellower but if I want to have a party in the house, I want something more upbeat.
 
Terence: I’m curious. The ghetto hoop is a genre of music correct?
 
Lucia N: Yes, it became a genre of music but in classes, I differentiate so people can tell which one is which. However, when you go to Portugal, you don’t have to differentiate because all these different genres, they fall into the spectrum of Kizomba. Kizomba can be 2 things. It can be the umbrella under which all of these dances and music will fall into. It can be Kizomba Kizomba because of the specific form, which is Kizomba that comes from Angola and that has a lot of influence not just the more the Angolan sounds like Semba, Kapitula, Kabita, and many other forms but also with the Caribbean sounds, which is Compak, Zuk and also others. sometimes hear a little bit of Calypso or Ka dance, it has also more influences because Zuk itself is also not a pure form, it has influences from other music from the Caribbean.
 
And so in this case you know when we dance Kizomba, we end up dancing all of it, so that’s why I said that I didn’t learn one thing, I’ve learned a lesson at all because when we say Kizomba we are just referring to the whole thing and that is specifically linked to one genre.
 
In the world, people confuse as ghetto Zuk. So if you actually play your real Kizomba, people will say “oh can you just play Kizomba?” No this is Kizomba Kizomba, which has ghetto Zuk in the same umbrella or Lahaina which is also is very popular nowadays.
 
Terence: Yea. I want to talk about that.
 
Lucia N: Okay. Hot subject.
 
Terence: Because Tarraxinha is a very close dance, I know I could be speaking wrong but to my knowledge, they would hide Tarraxinha in a Kizomba dance?
 
Lucia N: Tarraxinha, it’s very interesting because before it wasn’t a form of dance and it wasn’t a form of music, it was just almost like a sub-genre of Kizomba, so it would be something inside Kizomba or some movement inside Kizomba.
 
For example, you have a Kizomba song but there’s a point where it’s some breaks and becomes more mellow, so you would us Tarraxinha in that slow point and not continue doing your side to side because it doesn’t adjust. For example, you can have a song which is very upbeat (like you can hear a stable beat), but the voice is mellow. For us we look at some somebody here in the U.S. and because you have a lot of the hip hop and whatever, so mostly everyone will dance to the beat but for us, the voice is the most important thing because the voice is what it is talking to you, it is what’s giving you the message. So you cannot ignore the voice and go to the beat.
 
If the voice is very mellow, you all would use Tarraxinha and just in a very slow form, just because the voice is really low and very soft, even if the beat is telling you “you know go step”.
 
Terence: Please why did you say Tarraxinha was a hot topic?
 
Lucia N: No I was just kidding (laughs). It can be because of the closeness.
 
Terence: It is very close.
 
Lucia N: Yes. So for certain cultures that are not used to it, it can be intimidating. Even in Angola, Tarraxinha was not a thing that you would do to in a family gathering…
 
Terence: save to say they hid it right?
 
Lucia N: Exactly. So you wouldn’t do that just anywhere before and also one of the reasons why is because Tarraxinha started in “Manejo” so it didn’t start in the have family kind of place, it started in the club. So to bring that into a family environment, it took time in that all families would just be OK with it. Nowadays, you have people of all ages dancing in it, it just depends how open you are with it. One of the best dances that I’ve seen was a brother and a sister dancing together. They are family and they danced amazingly and it didn’t mean anything to them that that closeness was just human contact. The difference Tarraxinha and Kizomba is beside the closeness in the music is that the movement is small. So the rhythm is so good, it doesn’t have to be anything else than just to dance. People confuse it but it’s a shame.
 
Terence: I definitely understand what you are saying. I want to change the subject slightly. I’ve done some research on you and you have an amazing list of accolades (achievements). What advice would you give to people who are currently chasing their dreams?
 
Lucia N: I would say first and foremost, get out of your head. That’s where all the problems are. For me, I was born and in a very small island and sex isn’t there and it’s like a woman’s place is in the kitchen and you know “oh don’t go too far out just keep it there”. So for me, to get out of my own head and my own obstacles and the obstacles that were imposed by a society where I’m from, and just get out of the damn box was the hardest thing. And it took me a long time to do that. A lot of people came into play to actually help me and push me to do that. So what I would say is surround yourself with people that get out of your comfort zone, not people who will say “oh you’re amazing. You’re great” because that will just get you the same place over and over again. If you’re amazing and great, you don’t have to change.
 
People just say “Go try this, go try that”. That is OK, but just try doing it that way or try harder and that’s the people you want to surround yourself with; people that actually go and do things that don’t let themselves be stopped by whatever circumstances society is placing upon you.
 
Terence: I’m curious. You have been dancing for so long, what lessons have you learned from dancing that you have translated into everyday life.
 
Lucia N: Be open. Be free. Express yourself. Don’t be afraid. Yes, those were the most important ones. However, what comes with this dance when I mentioned culture, is I was blessed to be in touch with women that had such a different experience than my own.
 
Women that you know often were the rocks for their own families that make things happen, and that transformed my life entirely. It made me stronger, it made me fierce, it made me not be afraid, of just getting out there and expose myself and take on the wrist, and I think this is the biggest value that I got from the dance, and somehow I think about the ways that it could bring this to my students because culturally speaking and besides of the world, women have been gaining so many rights and so many opportunities, yet it seems like we’re not doing the most of what we have gained. And especially since yesterday was the International Women’s Day, I spent the majority of day meditating on this that when we’re giving too much, sometimes we don’t fully grab it and use it. And when we face hardship, we actually are able to be strong and to do something amazing with that hardship, because we are learning from it and this is what the dance gave me because this dance has an amazing spiritual background, so when we go all the way Kizomba, Semba and the traditional dance, which is tribal dance, it has a lot of meaning and content in it and it’s related to a lot of things within yourself (your connection to the mind and connection with yourself) with being a woman to everything that surrounds life is into dance, so many cases such as training where you don’t write in more modern dance forms.
 
Terence: I definitely understand that according to my knowledge, Semba has some pain in it that the music does, to the days of oppression.
 
Lucia N: One of the big traditions of Semba is called “Lamentos”. “Lamentos” means sorrow, so it is a way to express sorrow. Semba will be something that will be very present for example, in the funeral because it’s a way to express and connect to death. And this comes again in this very same tradition of dance is connected to life, you cannot take dance away life and it’s a way to express any change in life. Anything that happened would be connected in a way and you will be able to express it through dance, which if you think about it, that would be great if we could do this every day now days instead of going to a therapist. We would be very healthy people.
 
Terence: So you are now a professional instructor, a full-time instructor. Tell me about that because I’m in the military so I don’t know anything about what it’s like to be a fulltime dancer.
 
Lucia N: Wow. Are you in the air force or navy?
 
Terence: The Coast Guard.
 
Lucia N: Coast Guard OK. So it’s a very different form of life. My husband is also in the military (he is in navy). And it’s very interesting to observe him and to observe the military culture especially here in the U.S. because you are used to doing things in a certain way and in a very confined way, somehow structured. And in being a full-time dance instructor, of course, you have to be structured and manage your business and all of that, but there are an openness and an exit artistic expression that comes with it, and the emotional side is almost like a letting go of your emotions constantly.
 
Before, I used to work in management, so is entirely different. Office Job, you know that you have to go in and do certain things and those things will be repeating themselves. Being a full-time dance instructor and especially going from one culture to another one, I feel like I’m constantly having to adapt, having to absorb, having to learn and read people, so I can do my job and connect and do in the best way that I possibly can.
 
Terence: I’m curious. What do you think is the hardest part of being a dance instructor?
 
Lucia N: So for me, the hardest thing was to be able to get out of my comfort zone of getting your monthly paycheck on time, no stress and where you have to be every day at a specific time. And suddenly you have to juggle things because you have to be quick on knowing where you have to be at what time, which part of the world, which languages do they speak, learn a little bit about geography because sometimes I end up in places that I’ve never heard (laughs) And you know it’s just so much to juggle which doesn’t give you time to just to settle and become comfortable.
 
Terence: So you’re actually doing a lot of traveling then?
 
Lucia N: at the moment not actually this much because I just had my baby girl, so I need to get it sometime. And another thing is that I’m also changing Visa. Before I was in the US with an artist Visa and I are changing to a green card, so that also does not allow me to travel during that process.
 
Terence: OK I understand. So just to go back to that original question so what is your favorite part about being a dance instructor?
 
Lucia N: People. Being surrounded by people, seeing their smiles and how they opened up and how happy they are achieving something or just having fun that that is what truly makes me happy and want to do it again. Seeing how it changes people’s lives even beyond the dance floor.
 
Terence: Ok. I definitely understand that you have taught other instructors and I guess one of them is someone named Tee boy. I used to live in Virginia as I told you. I actually took a class with Tee boy. He taught a Kizomba dance and he was really cool.
 
Lucia N: Tee boy is an amazing dancer and I actually hope that he can visit soon and that we can do a workshop or something around this area. He is an amazing dancer, so when you say I talk taught Tee boy, what I had to teach him the most was how to teach him how to navigate in this international dance floor. Because sometimes you can be a good dancer but that doesn’t translate into somebody else learning.
 
Terence: Of course there are plenty of people who are not great teachers.
 
Lucia N: So it’s the ability to actually translate what you know that we had to focus and so we were together for 3 months and I invited him to teach me in different places and we would talk a lot and stuff like that. And after 3 months (he really is a fast learner) he was able to be on his own, which is great.
 
Terence: What was your learning process like?
 
Lucia N: That’s a great question. And a lot of people ask me that question especially because I’m navigating in a man’s world and a lot of people out there, they ask “What is it that she has?” I am a wife, woman, teaching an African dance. I’m a big lady in the dance where the image for the woman is they’re tiny, they smile, they’re so pretty, and they don’t say much. That’s, unfortunately, the image that people have for women instructors on its own.
 
I am also navigating in this very male-dominated the world and so people are always asking “What is that she has?” and what I have is the ability to create a bridge in between where you are and where you want to be, so almost like a translator. Translate in the sense that” I understand quickly what is it that you’re not understanding and how can I translated it into words, in a way that you can really understand? That is related to my background of course because I used to do coaching I used to be a trainer. And of course, I love to read. I love to read about psychology and culture and try to understand people the most that I can. And that is actually my biggest strength, it is how to do that.
 
Terence: I read how you both lead and follow and in my opinion, I also dance Salsa, Kizomba, Tarraxinha and I honestly believe that when you learn to both follow and lead, it only makes you a better dancer overall.
 
Lucia N: Yes. Because when I think about it, dance is dynamic. It is action-reaction. So, if I would only know one part, I would know “this is the reaction but what is the action” or vice versa. In learning, you know the whole spectrum of the dance makes you better for sure. And then, of course, is not just learning is how to translate that into an explanation that anyone can understand. The majority of instructors, once they get a good explanation and they just memorize that explanation and reuse that the very same explanation. I can use the explanation that made more sense for the majority of the people, but I’m not going to use it all the time because I don’t know if that’s going to be the best at that specific time, so I’m constantly adapting and constantly reviewing the things that I do and how I do them, so that I can create a better experience. And I never assume that it’s the student that is wrong. If I can be a bit hard when I teach, I never assume with the student, I always assume that I have to be a better teacher and to actually find new ways of doing things so that that person can also understand.
 
Terence: I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you. A week ago, I did not know who you are. But as of today, I can see you are a wonderful instructor and I would love to take classes with you. Because you do not only know the culture and the background of this, but I can tell you are passionate about this, I can tell you love it. And I know you have the skill to back it up and I know you do.
 
Lucia N: yes you’re right. I absolutely love it and very passionate about it. I’m also going to be very honest with you, a week ago I also didn’t know who you were (laughs).
 
Terence: I don’t have as many accolades as you so I definitely understand. I want to talk about Miss Riquita Alta. I was in Houston Texas and I also took a Kizomba class with her and she was astounding. She’s actually from Angola if I’m not mistaken. How do you know her?
 
Lucia N: oh I love Riquita. Riquita it is just amazing. For me, Riquita besides being your friend, she is she’s the first woman teaching solo in the UK. So for me, she is a big inspiration.
 
Terence: I also want to say I’m going to have her on this show as well (laughs). Continue.  
 
Lucia N: Yes I really admire her because she was not afraid to do that. Of course, being in London in the U.K. is the north of Europe, so teaching by yourself there is easier down teaching in the south of Europe because the South is there a little bit more sexist. And in the north of Europe, you can pretty much do that and people will find it strange. So when I went from Portugal to London, I knew the role that I have to follow, even though I know a thing on the opposite side but I just have to keep it within my role.
 
Being there and seeing Ricky to teaching there and seeing Riquita teaching on her own, it became such a big inspiration. I’m so fortunate that I went and I started teaching there. Eddie Nance is also a big inspiration for me because he pushed me into teaching classes again and I was like “I’m out of my comfort zone”. Yet it was that same mental block of “I cannot be outside of my room, I’m a woman and so I shouldn’t be leading, I shouldn’t be doing that” in its own cultural basic.
 
Riquita is amazing. If you hear me, Riquita, thank you for opening the roads for the rest of us.
Terence: I will definitely send her this clip. I want to talk to you about being ready. At what point do you just jump straight into something or should you be hesitant or wait?
 
Lucia N: Oh that’s a great question. What I always say is that I get ready on the way there. Because if you just sit and wait to be ready, you will never do it. You keep pushing it back and so what I do is I always sign up before I’m ready, and then I have absolutely no excuse to be ready. Don’t wait around too much. Just force yourself to do something. If you only have half of it, it’s way better than nothing.
 
Terence: I’m curious, I was reading a lot about you and I read that you suffered a lot of backlash to you leading while you are instructing. I have never been outside the states so, is it a lot more sexism outside the US or is it the same as you are experiencing here?
 
Lucia N: The culture that surrounds this dance, is a very male-female centered. When you dance, for example, if I lead, I have to put male energy into it. Because the dance itself is connected to life, so when you are leading, you are actually becoming a man and when you are following you are actually becoming a woman. Even the movement that comes with it, djing, you being the djing for the woman is you being fully a man and you moving like a man. So that’s why it’s so confusing because the backlash comes from that feeling of why you want to be a man. And very quickly, I understood that because I understand the culture I understood did that, then I would just simply ask “OK I understand what I’m saying, but is it poorly executed or do you actually like it?” And then I say “no I like it but it doesn’t feel right. And that’s because of this cultural side of today.
 
Terence: Can you tell me about your Kizomba teacher training for women?
 
Lucia N: So this started a few years back because I felt that it was very isolated so I felt like whenever I would go to a festival teach on my own, I would be pretty much the only woman there. And everywhere I would go, constantly the same thing, that I would not find someone some other woman teaching on her own. And I did not want to be the exception to the rule. I wanted it to be more common and more open. Also, I really hated the fact that you would have a class or some classes, just the men or the male instructor teaching on his own but even if he had a female teacher, there would be nothing said on the class. They will just stand back and be pretty and at the end do a demo and that’s it. And I wanted to develop something that women could take charge but a lot of people think that the Course is for women who want to lead in the dance but no, it’s for women that can be leaders. Even if they’re working with somebody else and they’re just going to be teaching for the ladies, you can still be a leader, you can still inspire you, you can still understand the dynamics of the dance floor fully so you can better incorporate their own instead of just being there silent. Because the women in class they play the same as the guys to the course. How come the leads will have explanations about the techniques, but the follows are often receiving this message “No you just follow. You don’t have to do anything”. But following takes a lot of work.
 
Terence: Of course, in my opinion, because I’m a solo lead and I think to follow has the more difficult of a job in my opinion.
 
Lucia N: It’s just different. Evan says harder than leading.
 
Terence: What I mean is every leader is different. I’m always going to be the same but you have to adapt to every dance.  
 
Lucia N: In terms of like creating muscle memory, it’s hard to because you have to be fast adapting, you have to be fast letting go and. And this is why sometimes nowadays male students are learning how to follow, but what they actually do is the same as leading. They memorize a set of steps and then they say “oh I know how to follow now”. And then I’m like “No you still have to learn how to manage it”. And the hardest thing. It is to learn techniques that do not involve them memorize every right step. Of course, you still have to know your basic. That involves a lot of maneuverability, a lot of flexibility and quick change of pace or rhythm of timing and to adapt to anyone.
 
Terence: If there was one piece of advice you could give to someone to instantly make them a better dancer, what would you tell them?
 
Lucia N: Stop memorizing steps, started listening to the music and what the music is saying. Because nowadays, it feels very formatted. It feels like everyone is dancing the same way, focusing on the beat but without actually listening to the music, to the message, and have fun with one another. And this is what I missed the most. It doesn’t have to be a perfect better dance, it doesn’t have to be full of stuff, we just have to acknowledge one another and have fun together. Yes, that’s the spirit of being in a community. It is that I see here you, you see me, let’s have fun with it.
 
Terence: What do you see for the future of Kizomba, Semba, Tarraxhinha and other types of dance?
 
Lucia N: That’s a very hard question. I feel that kizomba will always be around.
 
Terence: (laughs) I hope so.
 
Lucia N: in its cultural form. And however, this fusion and all the things that have happened with Kizomba is getting further and further away from what it is. And because of the pressure of Marty, it is developing so fast. The first urban instructors, that wasn’t so long ago. Nowadays they’re almost old school because it’s such a fast pace and there’s this pressure to create the next big thing and the next big thing that doesn’t make sense anymore. But hopefully for Kizomba, we are still able to keep our niche B.S. commercial as flashy as it won’t have all these marketing stunts attached to it, but somehow it stays because people will always want to come back to him a simpler place, center place, and a grounded place in your life. And culturally speaking, of course, it will be carried out. Because it’s attached to culture and to history.
 
Terence: I know to my knowledge, I heard that there’s a little bit of bumping of heads between Kizomba, Semba and the new fusion, know he’s only a symbol and like the new Fusion. Could you tell me about that?
 
Lucia N: I guess there is a bit of conflict sometimes, and this is again is due to lack of understanding one another. Sometimes, the Kizomba dancers, they’re called the haters are there were always trying to create conflict. And it’s simply because they do not understand that it’s not just a dance, it’s a way of life. It has a history behind it and the history is quite painful. So, when you take your own experience which is “this is just a dance, it’s just a step, let’s just have fun”, and you make fun of a dance, it has a bigger meaning behind, you are becoming disrespectful even though they don’t know they’re doing it.
 
So the best thing is to actually be educated enough to understand that this is not just a dance, it has a meaning behind. This to make people be together and connect in the time war, in a time of despair and a time of losing identity, in the time of not being allowed to be yourself, to be unable to experience freedom and so when somebody comes from Europe or the US And whenever and they just talk about it in a way that is very superficial, it’s hurtful for a lot of people that had experienced a lot of hardship. And it’s simply not fair, but you know laughter is not made of fairness.
 
So I believe that the way that we have to go around this is to educate, is to let people know what things mean and how they have such deep meaning, such a connection to ourselves as human beings and of course this is related to all history, but every human being around the world, we experienced the same things and your step into that thing that at the end of the same, were all the same, we all have the same experienced, the same emotional process the same thing and we can all experience hardship. If we can just connect that, we will be able to be more respectful towards one another.
 
Terence: That’s 100 percent true. I think you’re saying be more empathetic right?
 
Lucia N: That’s right.
 
Terence: I want to switch gears on you and I want to ask you a series of these rapid five questions. And I want you to try and answer these under 5 questions. If you could meet anyone dead or alive who would it be?
 
Lucia N: Mother Teresa or Elvis.
 
Terence: What is your favorite thing to do outside of dancing?
 
Lucia N: Reading.
 
Terence: Why did the chicken cross the road?
 
Lucia N: Because she’s very adventurous.
 
Terence: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
 
Lucia N: my baby girl.
 
Terence: If you had one superpower, what would it be?
 
Lucia N: Flying.
 
Terence: what is your favorite Salsa song?
 
Lucia N: I’m going to have to skip that one.
 
Terence: What is one item you can never live without?
 
Lucia N: my phone.
 
Terence: As a child, what did you want to be growing up?
 
Lucia N: Dancer or an English teacher.
 
Terence: It turned out. What advice would you give 25-year-olds this year?
 
Lucia N: Don’t take things too seriously.
 
Terence: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received you?
Lucia N: Don’t focus so much on things they will happen naturally.
 
Terence: And a counter to that, what is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
 
Lucia N: Many people telling me that I should be doing this or I should be doing that.  
 
Terence: OK you are stuck on an island for 5 days and you can only be three things, what are they?
 
Lucia N: Water. Food. A canoe.
 
Terence: to get out of there. What is your favorite dance Congress?
 
Lucia N: OK I do have a few favorites.
 
Terence: Give me one.
 
Lucia N: I cannot do that.
 
Terence: alright. Give me all of them.
 
Lucia N: One that is happening right now is “Awake” in Australia. And I’m actually missing it, I wish I could be but at the same time it’s OK, I’ll get there next year. Luxembourg Kizomba festival and Warsaw Kizomba festival. Those three are amazing.
 
Terence: I think that’s all of them. You did a wonderful job.
 
Lucia N: those were a very good question.
 
Terence: I’m glad you liked them. So speaking on events, I know you’re going to be at the spring Bakoda weekend. How did you get involved in that?
 
Lucia N: Well I’ve never been to Damvant before. The organizer just reached out to me and said told me that Eddy was going to be there so I just accepted the challenge. But I’m still looking forward to meeting them, have a lot of fun with them. My brother Eddy vent is going to be there.
 
Terence: how did you get the chance to write down the Bucoda date of when it’s coming up?
 
Lucia N: This next weekend.
 
Terence: Tell me about Eddy Vents. I saw a couple of videos of you with him teaching which was actually very helpful. You were talking about the frame which is very important (dance frame). Tell me how you met him?
 
Lucia N: I met him when I went to London. He invited me to work with him. In the beginning, we were not dancing partners or anything, we were just collaborators. And even nowadays we do not dance partners in the usual sense of the word. We are but because we collaborate a lot with one another. But the rest of the time we just teach on our own. I love to work with Eddie. He is Amazing in his own way. You have to understand how he is because of the thing that I like the most about him is because he never stays still. He is never happy with where he is. So interesting to have someone to debate with, to bang heads with. If you don’t fight, if we don’t have a debate, we don’t grow, we just stay in the same position. And that’s what I love about him. And every time though we go away and come back, we’re different people, we have different instructors and so every time we need to adapt to one another very fast.
 
Terence: I felt what you are saying is as two instructors, you both are forever students and always learning right?
 
Lucia N: yes.
 
Terence: I understand that. I want to ask you this. What advice can you give to beginner dancers who feel like they’re stuck in being beginners?
 
Lucia N: Well first, just practice as much as you can. Listen to music all the time. In your car, listen to it in your house. It will connect but you need to practice. It’s not just one hour or two hours per week that’s going to make it happen. You know you’re getting dressed while getting dressed try doing a few dances moves ahead. You are having your hair combed, nobody cares!
 
Terence: And what about for intermediate dancers? What does it take for them to take that leap from intermediate to advanced?
 
Lucia N: That is a bit harder because, at that point in time, you need to surround the people that have the ability to push you further. It could be your dance instructors. So the best thing that they have to do is to go to their dance instructor further and say “I want to take things further. And I would like to have a special mentorship or a dance private or I would like you to guide me to go from here to there. Can you build this strategy for me?”
 
Another way is if you can actually be surrounded by amazing dancers. Join a group of amazing then just stay there for a couple of weeks. It’s more expensive but it’s an amazing thing.
 
Terence: and it will be worth it though.
 
Lucia N: So you have two ways. Either you can go to someone that can guide you or so you can or you can be surrounded by people that cannot guide you but you will be infused into it.
 
Terence: have you visited Angola?
 
Lucia N: Yeah I’ve been there, It’s just such an amazing experience, and people have the chance to do that and you can actually do both things there which is to be surrounded by people that have an amazing level and to talk to some instructors they’re very good and they can actually provide that mentorship. So you just stay there for a month and you just come back to a great dance.
 
Terence: How would you vet a teacher? Like when you see a teacher dance and you like it. Is that good enough or how would you vet a teacher?
 
Lucia N: me I observed teaching skills in the classroom. It doesn’t have to be a proper class setting. It can be just hearing that person explain something to someone and how well they can they connect and how well they’re explaining it, not from their own cultural background but to the people that they’re teaching. So that’s really the most important thing. And of course great dancers, they can be taught how to be teachers and then some people have more of it than others. The only thing that I feel that is mandatory is that for you to be a teacher, you will have to serve, you have to give. If you are in for the thing for me, you’re into it for the wrong reasons and you might probably not get far.
 
Terence: I’m curious. When I say the word “musicality”, what does that mean to you?
 
Lucia N: That’s a good question and that’s actually a question and a word that has been trolling around a lot especially here. With urban kids, they say “there is a lot of musicality, Kizomba doesn’t have a lot of musicality. That’s very wrong. The problem is that in Kizomba and Semba, the musicality is harder to teach than urban. The music that they use is very simple and very easy to hear. When we are talking about Kizomba, especially about Semba, it’s so hard to adapt a class to it. It is so hard to work with musicality and work with a particular sound. Do we go with the voice or the beat or the guitar or come back to the voice? Which one is the instrument that is going to stand out in the process? And the high thing is that it’s really hard to perform and dance in a good way and it’s very hard for us to teach musicality. So, whenever I teach in his character as it takes me a long time to prepare. Way longer than a regular class. Because I will have to adapt very well to the music that I pick and can have to know how to explain what we’re going to follow this instead of that. And what are the alternatives? Could you actually choose something else besides this one and this is why it’s harder to teach?
 
Terence: I understand what you are trying to say there that teaching musicality is part of what music has to do and I Definitely understand that. I really appreciate you taking time to talk to me today, you have a wealth of knowledge information.
 
Lucia N: thank you so much for inviting me. It was a pleasure. It was as great meeting you and I hope that I get to meet you in person.
 
Terence: I would love that. I want to say this. I know you have spring Bacoda coming, do you have any events coming up?
 
Lucia N: I do but I will have to check my schedule.
 
Terence: I know you are a busy lady. How people reach you?
 
Lucia N: OK so you can reach me through my Facebook profile or my page and you have their link that you can and message me or e-mail me directly from my Facebook page. I also share a lot of my e-mail address and my phone address. I’m working on my website but I’m really not the most organized person in the world when it comes to doing those things. I’m just so passionate about the classes that I keep going but things like the website are that people are being behind me. But yes you can reach me through my Facebook page. You can definitely get in touch. And send me an email directly anyone if you want to if you have questions if you have glasses and think you can write to me.
 
Terence: I would post your information. I got you. So before we wrap things up, is there anything that you will like to say or will like to get off your chest?
 
Lucia: no not really. I just feel lucky that I had the opportunity to do this as part of my life, and I’m so happy with the people that I got to me. I’m very blessed. Also very blessed to meet you today and talking to you. And that’s pretty much it.
 
Terence: I know you have a baby and then you have a busy day planned so like to say thank you so much for taking this time to talk to me. I really appreciate it.
 
Lucia: Thank you, Terence, have a good day.

2 thoughts on “For Semba the roots go way, way, way back – Lucia Nogueira”

  1. A couple of corrections:

    [ we say “pileup” which means Portuguese speaking African countries.] – should be “PALOPs”.
    [ghettos hook] [… hoop] – ghetto zouk
    [zuk] – zouk
    [Compak, Zuk and also others] – “Compa, Zouk …”
    [Semba, Kapitula, Kabita] – Semba, Kabetula, Rebita
    [Tahashinya], [Tahashin ], [Tarashi] – Tarraxinha
    [“Brushu” and “Abrusha”] – “Bruxo and Bruxa”

    Thanks for the interview and esp for the transcription!

    1. Oh of course !!!

      And thanks for catching those corrections. !

      I pay someone to transcribe these interviews, and thus they are not familiar with the correct terms !!

      We are so happy and thankful you caught these errors !

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