So what is so beautiful and enchanting about Angolan semba and kizomba?
"The connection!" exclaimed Paulo dos Reis. "The possibility to talk without speaking, to lead and follow, without one being superior over the other. When the woman understands my every little signal, and it just flows... that's too beautiful."
There is, however, a clear difference between the male and female roles in both dances. The man not only leads, he is also the creative brain and by far the more active of the two. "Semba and kizomba are most difficult for men to learn," Áurio said. "The man is the 'fighter', he performs and creates most tricks and has to develop his own style and charisma."
Bonifácio Áurio won Angola's International Kizomba Contest and Lisbon's ÁfricaDançar in 2012, together with his former dancing partner Conceição Matauia. This year, he is one of the contest's jury members.
To reach a high level as a male performer takes time, effort, talent and enthusiasm, he explained. "I started dancing kuduro as a child. Semba was very mysterious to me, I used to watch it a lot. One day when I was 10, my mom put me on her feet. That's how she taught me to dance. To this day semba is my favourite dance alongside Afro-House. I danced everywhere I could, then took semba, kizomba and other lessons every day for four years at a well-known local dancing school called Kandengues Unidos. In 2009 I became a teacher at the school."
While semba and kizomba have become a lucrative business in the rest of the world, Angolan teachers still face a lack of opportunities at home. Mukano Charles, Paulo dos Reis and Bonifácio Áurio all agree that Angola is in dire need of professional dancing schools.
Áurio moved to Portugal in May 2013 to study International Relations and give dancing classes. "In Angola, I don't see a long-term professional future for myself as a dancer. There is a lack of opportunities - professionally speaking, it is an underdeveloped area. Angola desperately needs a professional dance academy, also for our traditional, regional dances. Our country has many talented dancers, so I believe that day will come."