Guest Bios

SHAINA KALILA

Kizomba Teacher


Shaïna Kalila is a Kizomba teacher based in London, who fell in love with this beautiful dance back in 2016. Her journey into the world of Kizomba and Semba began with an accidental discovery that quickly turned into a profound passion. Since then, she has been sharing her love for the dance with students, teaching at various venues and creating her own workshop-style Dance Experiences several times throughout the year.

Shaïna is deeply passionate about the unique qualities of Kizomba and Semba, both as a dance form and as a cultural expression. She adores the music and thrives on the social aspect of the dance, where connections are built through shared moments on the dance floor. What captivates her most is the powerful communication that unfolds through body movement, and the enchanting interaction between masculine and feminine energies.

Her dedication to the dance and her infectious enthusiasm have made her one of many beloved figures in the London Kizomba scene. Shaïna has nurtured some of the newest members of the Kizomba community with her founded Kizomba Dance Experience (KDE) where dancers can experience the joy of Kizomba in a fun, intimate & interactive environment. One thing you cannot miss with Shaina is her gleaming smile, lighting up the dance floor and not to mention her infectious laugh!

She can be found on the following social media handles:
@shainakalila_ (Instagram) 
 Shaina Kalila (Facebook) 
@kizombadanceexperience (instagram)

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RIQUITA ALTA

Kizomba Teacher


Born in Benguela, Angola, in the early 1970s, Riquita is the youngest of four siblings with an Angolan mother and a Portuguese father. As Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, the ensuing civil war forced Riquita and her family to flee to Portugal, where they lived until she moved to London in 1989.

In Portugal, amidst the influx of Angolan refugees, the government inadvertently created immigrant communities where cultural heritage thrived through music, dance, and food. It was in this vibrant environment that Riquita's love for dance and music blossomed. The neighbourhood would gather for "Festas de Quintal" (backyard parties) every weekend, where dance and music were the heart of social life. Everyone danced together, including the children.

Back then, Kizomba music did not exist, but its precursor, Passada, was danced to music by artists like Bonga, Africa Tentação, Os Kiezos, Duo Ouro Negro, Bana, Elias Dias Kimuezu and Teta Lando.

In 1984, Riquita heard "Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni" by Kassav, sparking her lifelong passion for Retro Zouk. Zouk's influence on Angolan culture was immense, and Passada began to be danced almost exclusively to Zouk music. Riquita's return to Angola in 1986 deepened her understanding and passion for this dance style, where a life-long bond was formed and she honed her skills attending numerous parties & clubs. 

By the mid-1980s, with the arrival of more immigrants from Portuguese ex-colonies, the demand for dancing venues grew, leading to the opening of the first Kizomba clubs in Portugal. In addition to parties, Riquita danced at places like If Club, Maiombe, and Globo. During this period, artists like Eduardo Paim started blending Zouk with Angolan Semba, creating Kizomba music. 

Riquita's teaching journey began by chance in 1989, when she taught her reluctant best friend to dance Kizomba in one afternoon, igniting her passion for teaching. Moving to London later that year, she joined a small but growing PALOP community. Like in the early years in Portugal, all dancing was done in house parties. The first Kizomba club in London, Club 79 on Oxford Street, opened by Alex Gurgel, became a pivotal place for Riquita, where she won her first Kizomba competition in 1992. 

As Kizomba's popularity grew, so did the demand for classes. In 2004, recognising a gap in the market, Riquita partnered with Kwenda Lima to become the first Kizomba teachers in London. Many of her early students have since become successful teachers themselves. In 2009, Riquita and her then dance partner Guimas represented the UK in ÁfricaDançar.

Over her 30 year career, Riquita has become one of the most sought after and respected Kizomba teachers in the UK, known for her emphasis on strong foundational skills (basics & foundation), giving her a reputation as a Kizomba Purist. To her, being a Purist merely means that if one has a strong foundation, one becomes a better dancer... And the results speak for themselves. 

Riquita's passion for Kizomba is unmatched, and she has a love for sharing it with others. Her teaching method, known as "The Riquita Way", focuses on strong basics, ensuring her students become confident and skilled dancers. For Riquita, Kizomba is not just a dance–it's a way of life. Kizomba is a part of her soul. If you wish one thing for yourself today, wish that you get to learn and be touched by Kizomba... The RIQUITA WAY!!

Connect with Riquita on the following social handles:
@riquita.bailunda (Instagram)
Riquita Alta (Facebook)

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RICO SUAVE

Kizomba Teacher


Ricardo Graca, widely known in the African dance scene as 'Rico Suave', was born and raised in Guinea-Bissau. Growing up, Rico was immersed in a rich cultural environment filled with music, dance, and family gatherings. This early exposure introduced him to Gumbe, Passada, and eventually to Kizomba, Semba, Kuduro, Soukous, and Copuè Decalè.

In his twenties, Rico moved to Portugal and quickly became an integral part of the Afro dance scene, where he began competing and organising dance events. His passion for dance continued to flourish after relocating to London, England, where he embarked on his teaching journey. Since then, Rico has been a prominent figure in the dance community, regularly teaching and organising events.

Rico's career has taken him across borders, allowing him to teach, perform, and organise events internationally. He is notably the co-organiser of the 'Sardinia Afro Beach Festival' in Italy. Known for his smooth and elegant dance style, Rico Suave also brings a positive, easy-going nature and infectious happy energy to his classes.

Rico Suave is a beloved and respected dance teacher both nationally and internationally, renowned for his expertise in Kizomba, Semba, and Afro dance genres. His classes offer students a unique blend of first-hand knowledge, creativity, and a teaching philosophy rooted in his rich cultural heritage and extensive experience. Attendees can expect a fun, engaging, and passionate learning experience that truly reflects Rico's dedication to dance and teaching.

Connect with Rico on the following social handles:
@ricosuavekizomba (Instagram)
Rico Suave (Facebook)

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