After crossing our paths numerous times with Joao Rocha, we finally got the chance to spend some time with him, and get to know this great guy a little more. We also got the honor of participating as instructors in the 4th Like Festival, created by Joao Rocha and his partner Rui Cunha. In this interview, Joao Rocha tell us a little about his beginnings and the starting of the Like Festival.
Joao Rocha is originally from Lisbon, where he grew up. He started dancing 13 years ago, and his first love (in dance), was Salsa. Kizomba was already starting in Lisbon, and he confesses he used to hate Kizomba. In Lisbon they played Kizomba as the slow music and to take a break from Salsa, while in the rest of Europe they used Bachata as the slow music. But Joao, couldn’t understand that if there where specific dance floors for Kizomba, why did they have to play Kizombas in the Salsa rooms?? But, he then start realizing if so many people where dancing Kizomba, maybe he should try it! Maybe there was something about this dance he was missing. So he tried it and felt in love with it and started taking classes and getting more serious about it, going to clubs and watching people dance. In Lisbon at the time, there where a good deal of great Kizomba dancers, so going out dancing was a privilege and a good source of inspiration and learning, besides the classes he took. He feels really lucky that he got this opportunity to experience Kizomba in these places. As Joao Rocha says: “Until you try it, you don’t know what you are missing…”
Joao Rocha is considered the Vasco de Gama, the Colonizer in the Kizomba world. He has taken Kizomba to many countries where it was not known. He moved from Lisbon to London, to grow in the Kizomba world and from there to Sweden in 2012, taking a big personal challenge every time.
He also shares in this interview, that he believes that as a student and as a teacher, you never should stop learning. If you think you know it all, you are actually stopping yourself from getting better. You will get stuck. His advice is also to not rush things, because when you let things happen for themselves, things will happen faster than you think, and then you will realize you are actually much further ahead that you thought you were.
His 3 pillars in Kizomba are Petchu (“his Black father”) , Kwenda Lima and AfroLatin Connection. And even though he is more known for his Kizomba, he does love more Semba.
Joao is the creator, together with his partner Rui Cunha, of the Like Festival in Lisbon.
Listen to all the interview for some great insights also on the evolution of Kizomba and Semba in Lisbon and other parts in Europe. We hope you enjoy it!
You can connect with Joao at:
So what did you learn new today??