Dancing Heals – How Kwenda Lima Imparts Dance As A Powerful Tool For Transformation
An Interview With A Dance Teacher Who Moves You Like No Other
Sometimes when you dance, your heart skips a beat or two…
You get lost in the music, carried away by your partner, and your movement together becomes like ice to water and water to gas. Fluid, transforming, and as breathtaking as watching the sun rise over the ocean while dolphins are riding the waves of infinity.
All conscious effort to move your body dissolves. You’re now “being danced” as you’re floating over the dance floor with your partner. It’s like your soul surges, your whole being expands, and you just got wings to fly.
But there are even times when you just so much as see someone dance and all of the above happens.
It’s like time stops and you’re right there dancing with them. Even though you’re not physically moving, you are moved to the core.
All of that is what I felt when I first saw Kwenda Lima dance.
To those who haven’t met him yet, this may sound aggrandizing. But even as someone who writes for a living, I find myself at a loss for words to fully capture my experience of Kwenda Lima’s classes. Words seem too limited.
It was exactly like my friend told me before I attended: “I can’t tell you what he does. You just have to experience it yourself. But I am sure of one thing: he is going to make you cry.”
And she was right.
Kwenda Lima doesn’t just make you move your body, he stirs your soul.
A few months after attending two of his workshops during ALFA (Afro-Latin Fest Asia) in Malaysia, I had the incredible honor and privilege to have a conversation with him in his awe inspiring school, Art Kaizen, in Lisbon, Portugal.
We spoke about the art of conscious dancing, what connection really means, human potential, and the ability to transform anything through dance.
“Dance is a powerful tool for transformation.”
Kwenda Lima and Art Kaizen: Dancing to Manifest our Potential
Kwenda Lima is a spiritual teacher, an accomplished dancer and kizomba instructor, founder of the Art Kaizen school, and an undeniably charismatic human being who knows how to move (people) in every sense of the word.
Just watching him dance – with or without music – will make you dance too. Even if it’s only on the inside. And ultimately, that might just be the whole point…
Dancing in the way Kwenda Lima teaches it, can help us experience oneness and transform experiences, emotions, and memories that might otherwise keep us stagnant, stuck or frustrated. You could describe his school as a temple for transformation or as he calls it “a place where you can cultivate your own inner world in order to manifest your potential harmoniously and realize that you are enough.”
With his methodology, Inner Kaizen Humanology, he reminds us who we really are and what we came here to do.
Because beyond everything we may have learned to be as we grew up and beyond every character trait we may identify ourselves with today, there is something we came into this world with. Something that Kwenda refers to as our “seed of potential.”
Just like plants and trees need the right environment and conditions to grow and blossom most beautifully and abundantly, we need the proper environment to do that too. With Art Kaizen, Kwenda creates the environment for our own seed of potential to come to fruition. And dance is the tool he uses most to water the soil. But not just with music, in stillness too.
Why Silence is Just as Important as Music
“Silence is like a good friend that is telling you, let’s have a coffee and let’s talk about you.”
Dance has been a part of Kwenda’s whole journey, which started in 1977 in Cape Verde, where he was born into a family that lived and breathed music and dance. His mother choreographed dances and his father was a musician. But his family also knew about the importance of silence, rituals, and spirituality.
Kwenda: “My grandmother and us, we had this at home. A spiritual practice. You’d go there, and you’d keep in silence. As grandchildren at that time, we didn’t understand but at the same time, we understood.”
When you dance, it’s not only important to connect with the music and your body, it’s important to connect with your whole self. And this connection, Kwenda knows, is best found in silence.
“Because music can take you somewhere. But silence can take you somewhere too. But the difference: the music can take you for example out there, or some of it can take you in. But silence takes you exactly in. It’s very rare for silence to take you out there. It takes you in, to really, really understand who you are.”
“It’s like a good friend that is telling you, let’s have a coffee and let’s talk about you.” For that reason, Kwenda refers to silence as one of the most powerful forms of music and one of the biggest masters in the world.
“It’s the source. It’s not only music. It’s the source of everything. People in their own silence they become creative, but they need to reach that silence. Any person that came with something big, they somehow reach their silence. The silence guides them.”
Experiencing the Musicality You Can Not Explain with Counts
Coming into stillness helps you increase your musicality too, Kwenda explains: “But I am not talking about this musicality that you can explain mathematically with counts. I am talking about the musicality that can transform someone’s self.”
“Because in any music, and in any dance there is a silence. But it is up to you to reach it or not. Or to be able to reach it or not. Because before that music, there was a silence. They make that music through the silence. So of course, in any music, there’s a moment of silence.”
“But when I say music, I really mean music, I am not saying noise. It is different, there is music and there is noise. And in music, really, there is a silence. And when you find that silence, your body will find their own silence.” The magic then comes from that silence and the music mixing together, Kwenda says: “In terms of musicality you are not hearing only the frequency that human beings can hear, you are hearing the frequency that human beings can feel. “
And that makes you listen to the music in a completely different way: “Suddenly it makes you go traveling. Because you do not hear it, you feel it. Your musicality becomes something you cannot explain mathematically.”
“Dance is Life. Life is Dance.”
If dance would have a synonym, it would be “life,” according to Kwenda. But not just our life. The whole of life: “It could be a very harsh dance. It could be a very smooth dance. It could be a very silent dance. It could be like a hurricane dance. It could be a windy dance. But everything is dance around.”
We usually only tend to see something as a dance because there is music there, but as Kwenda explains, any move you do with a certain frequency, speed, gentleness, or firmness, is a dance.
As we live, we can not not move; we can not not dance: “Our body is a material machine. It’s a physical machine. And the spirit is using this machine to manifest something. We can not just be.” We have to move to eat, to drink, or to manifest something through our hands or through our computers.
“Any move you do that you associate with some rhythm, through your process in life, through your maturity, your move becomes a dance. Any move.”
It can be like a ritual, he adds: “Your body starts doing it’s own ritual through movement. And this is how the body is healing itself. To become ready to manifest what the spirit is.”
“All of this is for you to manifest things, is to prepare you to receive something, is to prepare you to give something. Of course, it’s a healing.”
But although any move could be a dance, Kwenda also understands that physical movement isn’t necessary to be dancing. “Sometimes people are not moving – but they are dancing. Like when we go see a movie like Dirty Dancing. Because you are not just the physical body you can have an experience through others too. By watching people dance your spirit is traveling.”
“Sometimes the physical is not ready to receive something. Your spirit is traveling to come back to teach you. To prepare you to go there too. Maybe…”
As We Can Educate our Physical Body, We Can Educate the Spiritual One
“Once we realize that we all function like a channel, things change.”
What I personally experienced during Kwenda Lima’s Art Kaizen workshop that struck me the most was the profound energy shift he enabled. Not just within myself but in the entire group. It felt like a deep awakening that removed emotional and energetic blockages and created a sense of unity.
And I wasn’t the only one to experience this: by the end of the workshop almost every attendee shed a tear or two. Both men and women alike.
The way Kwenda explains he creates this energy shift and feeling of oneness, is by being a servant to the inner silence: “This is something that is exactly about silence. When you allow your silence to express, when you allow something that you are to serve, you really connect with life in a way of just being humble to accept that we are not the one, but we are part of that one.”