Kizomba Oslo: Interview with Theodore Wolashie Awadzi

Kizomba Oslo: Interview with Theodore Wolashie Awadzi

My name is Theodore Wolashie Awadzi., I am Ghanaian by birth and British by nationality and currently living in Norway. My career has taken many bending roads. In Ghana I took an elective subject at their University of Ghana in African Dance for 1 year because I was always pulled towards dance. I however also did my undergrad education in Accounting and Business Finance and my Masters in Accounting in the UK as well as started specializing in CIMA (Chartered Institute of Managerial Accountants). I worked part-time teaching dance while full time I was as a Financial Analyst and then an Accountant for close to 12 years in the UK before finally moving to Norway to pursue a full-time career in dance. I have been so lucky and blessed to be invited to teach in all the continents of the world.  I enjoy teaching but most importantly I love to learn. I always take the opportunity to learn from others at all the festivals am invited to and then share with my Norwegian students in Oslo every chance I get.

When did you start dancing?

I Started dancing over 30 years ago. Dancing for an African is part of growing up. We dance at parties, at church, at naming ceremonies, funerals (if the person who has died, has lived a long life we celebrate the person’s life by wearing white and not black and we dance out of joy). Any opportunity we get we dance. However, with regards to teaching dance,

I have had the pleasure of teaching dance for close to 20 years now

. I was the choreography director for the word choreography as well as other groups, where we mixed African dance with contemporary dance and performed at theatres and churches. With regards to kizomba and Semba, I have been teaching this since the middle of 2009.

Why Kizomba?

Kizomba because of my background in African Dance and also because growing up partly in Ghana I was introduced to the music flavors of zouk , Makossa , Soukous , highlife and Semba.

Theodore Wolashie Awadzi Kizomba NorwayKizomba for me is a celebration of life and what it is to be alive. As an African and living in this generation am extremely glad for all my forefathers went through to give me the opportunities I have today. I don’t think I have the courage to go through a tiny inch of what they went through for my sake. Dancing helps me celebrate being alive. It’s usually hard for a Non- African to understand this feeling but Semba and its culture and background and history has a lovely way of expressing part of this joy to the masses of what it means to be African. I love kizomba because it allows me in just a little way to express and explain to people the joy, I feel when I wake up every morning and able to share in the opportunities everyone else has.

People say a lot about kizomba and Semba and cause many arguments but I try if I can to be out of it all just because this is what it means to me and I understand it might mean something to someone else and I appreciate that.

How has your experience been organizing dance events?

My experience has been great so far. My objective with organizing events is to spread the love I have for dance with others. There are several times that I have organized events that people have had no idea I was actually involved in. Because I like to take a back seat if possible so as not to lose focus of the objective. Its in this respect that I gave all activities related to fusion and Urbankiz events to the lovely Karoline Hansen to organize as well as all activities related to Kizomba and Semba to Christina Lyra to organize. This was because for me it started to feel like a competition for others whenever they saw my name appear because they wanted to be the focus or seen as the person making one dance or other popular or strong in Oslo.

My objective is to grow the love I have for these dances in Oslo and if taken a back seat helps me achieve this objective am always more than happy to do so.

 I have been extremely lucky to have a really great and strong team helping me every step of the way.

Organizing Events in Norway isn’t the easiest of things, it’s really expensive to do so.  As of today within the past 5 years I have spent over. 3.9 Million Norwegian kroner some of which was my own money just on dance related activities in Oslo,(Rent for my dance school where most of my activities take place, as well as serving as a home to others who don’t have the money as of yet to lease their  place to host their classe costs. 1.2million a year. just to give an idea of how expensive things can be in Norway.)

How would you define the Kizomba Dance Scene In Norway in general and In Oslo in particular?

Oh that’s a great question. The kizomba dance scene in Norway started to boom within the past 5 years. When I arrived in Norway 5 years ago kizomba was existing thanks to the help of amazing people like Ewa trela, George Daniels, Hege Valand, Lamisi , Anne Guru and Charlotte Solstrale, Monica Enger, Nii  Lokko, Eli Ann Smelvaer  amongst others
but was not as developed as we have now . So in regards to that, kizomba has really grown and is growing. And I must add that its thanks to the above people that we now have the opportunities to dance kizomba and argue about pointless things related to dance. These people made it happen for all of us and for that am grateful.

With regards to Norway. Stavanger has been in my eyes the longest existing strong kizomba scene headed by my good friend from Ghana Nii Lokko however within the past 5 years Oslo has taken its rightful place as second in Norway. We have now managed to host our 3 successful Oslo kizomba festivals. Inviting amazing artists to come and share and help with our development. We also on a regular basis invite guest instructor both from Angola and Europe to come and share with us their knowledge of this beautiful dance and culture. Within the past 5 years I can say no other city in Norway has been able to invite so many high level instructors and historians of this dance to come and share and teach than Oslo.

We now have a kizomba dance school in Oslo called Dancecity which specializes in kizomba amongst other dances.

Its also important to mention a lovely lady called Monica Enger who is also spreading this lovely dance in a small city outside Oslo called Hamar. In Oslo We now have amazing instructors such as Ebenezer  from Ghana and Stine Larsen from Norway teaching kizomba in a new school called Fever dance, we also have Ricardo Ferreir who has also moved from Portugal to teach kizomba and Semba at Ewa Trela dans not forgetting myself and Karine Ericksen teaching for Dancecity. Currently Oslo has the highest number of kizomba and Semba teachers in Norway and we are just getting started.We also have Christina Lyra who also helps with organizing kizomba and Semba events in Oslo. So far she has helped bring the likes of Dasmaras Dos Santos and others to Oslo. We also have Tone Pettersen who also organises her own events related to kizomba and semba. With regards to kizomba music, we have amazing djays aside from myself as DJ Stefan, Dj Lamisi, Dj Charlotte, Dj Gigasilva, Dj Fano just to mention a few who are helping spread kizomba and semba to the masses in Oslo. So with regards to djays, Oslo has the highest number of Kizomba and Semba djays than any city in Oslo.

Is there a difference between Oslo and other Norwegian cities?

YES there is a great difference.

Firstly, Oslo has the largest population of dancers than any other city in Norway.

Theodore Wolashie Awadzi Kizomba NorwayWith regards to Kizomba, the population had previously been introduced to other forms of dancing such as kiz fusion and Urbankiz. There was a high demand for these dances resulting in many of our dancers travelling all the way to Sweden and in particular Gothenburg to go and learn and attend parties. Due to this we have a lot of Fusion and Urbankiz enthusiasts in Oslo. Because these were predominant before the introduction of Kizomba and Semba as a firm base in Oslo (there were remminants of this already but not a strong base.)

Most of our events in Oslo have either two rooms

giving one room for kizomba and Semba and the other for the fusion or Urbankiz dances or a mixed room where we have both music in one room like parties at Sagene which attract close to a 100 kizomba and fusion dancers every other week. Other cities outside Oslo haven’t been introduced to fusion or urbankiz dances as much as Oslo except Bergen (who have been introduced to both Urbankiz and Kizomba and semba  by promoters like  Cuba Norge dans, Iril Naustdal for Bsi and kizomba and Semba mostly by Sian Phillips amongst others. 

That’s why some people might say there is no kizomba in Oslo or kizomba is only in one city because Urban hasn’t been very much introduced there. But the facts can’t be denied and you cannot tell someone not to like something because you don’t like it. Oslo has a multicultural population of dancers and our dance schools and dance communities do their best to feed everyone’s appetite in a harmonious way. This is one of the reasons I love also so much. It doesn’t matter what you dance or like ,we are always one family.

Do you think that kizomba and other Afro-Latin Dances are going to gain followers, in Norway and that they will become as well known and practiced as salsa and bachata?

That is a difficult question but in my humble opinion. Kizomba will have its own place in dance culture and history in Norway but will never become as popular as Salsa but bachata yes. Norwegians are reserved by nature and the close proximity of you to your partner is a problem to some. Unfortunately, people have their own prejudices before they get to understand what this dance is all about and because of this they shy away from getting to know anything about this dance. That said I believe if these past 5 years has anything to show , its that  kizomba is on the trend,

I believe kizomba dancing is on the right track to becoming well established in a big way in Norway

. Me and my team have had several requests to share this lovely dance in lots of amazing cities outside Oslo that previously not heard about kizomba.

What do you think of certain more modern rhythms such as Tarraxo?

I honestly don’t know much about these modern dances. What I have heard is that it’s a new dance created by Gwany and usually danced to moombahton tunes. It’s not a trend in Norway but it’s getting really popular in Asia.

What are your future goals?

My future goal is to hopefully plant the seed like I did in Norway in other continents like in Asia. Asia has started to fall in love in a big way with Kizomba and Semba and am so happy to be spear heading this new generation of kizomba and semba craze in Asia, with Eliza Sala, Helio Santos, Eddy Vents, Lucia Nogueira, Nelson Campos, To Costa amongst others.

Together with myself and Eliza Sala and To costa, we will be organizing a kizomba festival with the help of AM Arts in Philippines next year to spread the culture of kizomba to our Asian dance community.

I know there are so many other people doing a lot for spreading Kizomba and Semba in Norway that I may not know about or realize, but I would just like to say to them thank you for doing what you love and sorry for not mentioning you. In this day and age everyone wants to be in the lime light and want to be accredited for doing this or that. But thanks for your humble service to spreading and celebrating with I call life in the shadows you are truly the unsung heroes or heroines of our generation.

Agora Kizomba Magazine recommends:

  • Oslo Kizomba Festival 2010
  • Boracay Latin Dance Festival

Oslo kizomba festival

Boracay Latin Dance Festival