Born in Benguela, a southern province of Angola, to an Angolan mother and Portuguese father, in the early 1970’s and on the cusp of its independence from Portugal, Riquita is the youngest of four siblings.
Due to the Civil War that ensued in Angola in 1975, Riquita and her family were forced to flee their homeland and become refugees in Portugal, where she was to live until her move to London in 1989. In the mid 70’s and with the influx of Angolan refugees, the Portuguese government unwittingly created what could be perceived as “immigrant ghettoes”, where the displaced families held on to their cultural heritage by ways of music, dance and food. And it was against this backdrop that Riquita’s love of Dance and music was born and there it thrived. By ways of unwinding and socialising, the whole neighbourhood would get together most weekends and hold “Festas de Quintal” (backyard parties), where dance and music were the main focus. At these social gatherings, everyone would dance together, including the children.
At this time, Kizomba music as we know it, didn’t exist, but Passada (which was what Kizomba dance was called at its infancy) was danced to music from artists such as: Bonga, Africa Tentação, Os Kiezos, Duo Ouro Negro, Bana, Elias Dias Kimuezu, Teta Lando and so forth. In 1984, Riquita heard for the first time “Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni” by the mighty Kassav and her lifelong affair with what is now known as Retro Zouk began. The introduction of Zouk music into the Angolan and Palop culture in general, was so explosive, that Passada was danced nearly exclusively to Zouk music. It was upon her return to Angola in 1986 that Riquita’s passion and understanding of this beautiful dance style exploded and her bond with kizomba was sealed forever. By going to numerous parties and clubs whilst there, she truly learnt how to Dance. By the mid 1980’s, and with the arrival of immigrants from other Portuguese ex-colonies, the neighbourhood parties weren’t enough to accommodate this ever growing subculture and the first Kizomba clubs were opened in Portugal. As well as the parties, Riquita now could indulge her passion for dancing in places such as: If Club, Maiombe, Globo, Aiue, Cave Adão, Visage, Kandando… By the the late 1980’s and early 1990’s artists such as Eduardo Paim, Ruca Vandunen and Ricardo Abreu started mixing Zouk music with Semba from Angola and Kizomba music was created. Riquita’s teaching of Kizomba dancing came purely by chance. In 1989, in a bid to convince her reluctant and non Kizomba dancing best friend to go clubbing with her, Riquita successfully taught her to dance in one afternoon. That afternoon was the beginning of many spent teaching various friends.
When Riquita moved to London in 1989, there was already a small but thriving Palop community. As in the early days in Portugal, all the dancing was done in house parties… That is, until the first Kizomba Club was opened by Alex Gurgel in Oxford Street, club 79. It was at Club 79 that Riquita entered and won her first Kizomba competition, in 1992. The dance style popularity was growing slowly but steadily, and in 2004, the demand for classes increased so significantly that Riquita, noticing a gap in the market, asked Kwenda Lima, who had recently arrived from Portugal, to teach with her. They were the first ever Kizomba teachers in London. Some of Riquita’s first students are now very successful teachers in their own right. In 2009, Riquita and her then dance partner Guimas went on to represent the UK in ÁfricaDançar. Since that first afternoon in Portugal, Riquita has continuously taught Kizomba and her expertise and respect by her peers has enabled her to judge in Kizomba and Semba competitions. With nearly 30 years of dancing experience, Riquita is one of the most sought after and respected Kizomba teachers in the UK. Because of her approach to teaching and emphasis on the Basics and Foundation, Riquita is often called a Kizomba Purist. To her being a Purist merely means that if one has strong foundation one becomes a better dancer… And the results speak for themselves. Riquita’s passion for Kizomba dancing is unparalleled, only to be rivalled by her passion for sharing it with others. Kizomba doesn’t just run through her veins, it’s glued to her bones and in the air that she breathes. If you wish one thing for yourself today…Wish that you get to learn and be touched by Kizomba…The RIQUITA WAY!!