The story of BATUKE! Festival
The Batuke! Festival started out of our passion for the music and dance of Afro - Portuguese countries. We realised that there is a special rapport and connection between all the Portuguese speaking countries, a recognition of common experiences through music and dance. In 2010, when we started there was no platform in the UK where Afro - Portuguese artists were represented, the community could experience their culture in a professional space, young and old, and share their common heritage. So, we decided to just go ahead and do it ourselves! We self produced initially through our regular events. It was very risky, but we believed in it so we made it work! The team derived from Iris De Brito social dance school at the time - Studio Afro Latino. Roles were delegated, artists contacted, plenty of volunteering support and voila! We became the go - to festival in the UK representing Afro-Portuguese culture, created a space for artistic development, cultural exchange and research. Guest artists came from the USA, France, Senegal, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique and the UK. We were founded by the Arts Council for 5 years and developed creative partnerships.
In 2019 we achieved a fantastic milestone with our 10th Anniversary and decided to have a break.
We are now looking towards developing a new event, investing in organisational development and research. Make sure you continue to follow us and connect with us through Afro - Portuguese culture!
S.A.L. team has members from Angola, France, Spain and has far as Madagascar! Our team truly reflects a diaspora with similar backgrounds and references wich truly connects through music and dance.
Our teachers have a professional attitude and are concerned about delivering good quality classes for you to enjoy. S.A.L. was created in 2004 and have been pioneering Kizomba and it's related dance styles ever since. Most well known UK teachers collaborated, attended classes or got their teaching skills through Studio Afro Latino. Past members include: Sika Tro, Khalifa, Denise Briscoe, Norma Facey, Sa'id Chernoh, Christian Jean Francois, Neelam Indigola, Nathalie Kalambaye, Melissa Trim, Harville Macleary and Donny Duddikoff.
Iris De Brito - Creative Director
Trained at The London Studio Center and with the late William Louther Dance Theatre, Iris is a very diverse dancer/singer/choreographer. Film and other credits include:” Evita”, “Robin Williams an audience with..”,”The Des O’Connor show”,”TOP”,”CD-UK”,”GMTV” with Henrique Iglesias. Iris Has worked as a Salsa coach in “Strictly Dance Fever BBC".
In the last few years Iris has dedicated her career to Latin dance being 2X Salsa Champion( Open World & UK), performing and teaching in the UK and abroad and holds a Lifetime achievement award for her contribution to Salsa in the UK. More recently she has Choreographed and directed “El Barrio” a theatre production with Song, Salsa and Live percussion, which completely sold out.
Iris is also the one who started Kizomba in the UK and together with a team of teachers that she has helped train, she founded her School Studio Afro-Latino which promotes Kizomba and other Afro-Latin Rhythms like Rumba and Afro-Cuban Dance.
Feka Sam - Schools & Education programmes + Kizomba Instructor.
Born in Angola and raised in England, Feka trained with SAL, learning its philosophy and educational methods, before recently joining its teaching team.
Feka performed at Batuke 2011 in the production ‘Musseke’, choreographed by Iris de Brito, and has taught at well-known events such as ‘El Grande’ and the 2012 London Cuban Congress, where he also performed the duet ‘Fica Comigo’.
He is a committed teacher, with a warm and personable approach, and is keen to share his love of dance and promote Afro-Latino dance forms, particularly Kizomba. He aims always to provide students with an immersive learning experience in classes through simple yet enlightening activities which make learning dance both fun and engaging.
Feka’s background lies in the creative voluntary sector, developing and managing creative educational activities for disadvantaged young people – but not exclusively so. He is passionate about his work and believes art forms such as dance can be an empowering means to develop transferable skills.
Kemi Sangowama - Support admin + Instructor // Kizomba
Kemi was born and grew up in Ivory Coast, to an Ivorian mother and a Nigerian father.
Her passion for dance started from an early age, growing up with strong musical input from western Africa, Latin and Caribbean influences, as well as classical music training.
Having danced and performed in street & hip-hop dance shows and musicals throughout school and university in the UK, Kemi started dancing Kizomba three years ago. She learned how to dance with style and her feedback from dancers is that she’s ‘light as a feather’. With a background in creative design and marketing, she’s also a source of enormous support during our events and other activities, always ready to help and make things run smoothly.
Kemi’s a natural dancer, performed at BATUKE project 2011, taught at the International Cuban Congress 2012, and is also a Cuban salsa lover! She currently teaches Beginners, Level 2 and Level 3, and and is always engaging with students, as well as charming. She’s also learning how to lead and understand the performance side of things. We’re very proud to have her with us join out Teachers team.
Gregory Lidlow - Photography + Instructor // Kizomba
Greg has joined Studio Afro Latino recently and it's still training to lead his own class.
He's been attending classes with SAL for a long while and is familiar with our standards and SAL's syllabus. He's a patient teacher and with good eye for detail.His style is sharp and stylish and good for social dancers.Greg is also a Salsa enthusiast specially in the Cuban style.
Greg teaches regularly at "El Grande", special workshops and major events organized by the School or through Kizomba UK, our main partner. He attends International congresses regularly to brush up his skills and continuous learning.He was part of the production performed at BATUKE! 2011 called "Musseque" choreographed by Iris De Brito.Greg also taught at the London Cuban congress.
Wilson Soares - Instructor // Kizomba, Capoeira, Samba Brasil.
Wilson has been dancing since he was a young boy. He's a natural dancer and has worked with companies such as Ballet Kilandukilo, performing at major events in Portugal. He's also a regular performer with "Oi Brasil" performing Samba and Carnival dance numbers all over the UK. Wilson is also a very acomplished capoeirista. Wilson is currently studying to be a personal fitness instructor and is keen to develop his interest in dance with Studio Afro Latino.
Amora Fox - Corporate contracts + Instructor. Kizomba