Kukuwa Dance Workout: Konugu

Kukuwa Nuamah
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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I’m reviewing this workout after previewing it once and doing it several times.
This video is labeled as Latino! Africano! Caribbeano! Kukuwa Dance Workout: Konungu, Vol. 1; it can also be found on the compilation Kukuwa Dance Workout DVD.

General workout breakdown: This approximately 55-60 min. dance workout combines elements from Latin, Caribbean, and African dances.
Kukuwa introduces 2-4 steps which are repeated, more or less, during the course of a song. Most steps have a fairly simple lower body move combined with movement in the torso and/or an interesting arm pattern. You repeat a step several times in a row and then move on to the next one, which is repeated several times in a row. At the start of the next song you learn new steps but never go back to the previous combos. So there isn’t really TIFTing (taking it from the top). One combo serves as a warm-up and another as a cool down, followed by a final merengue segment that you’re supposed to be able to take to the dance club.

Level: I’d recommend this to a beginner with some exercise and preferably a little dance experience through an intermediate / advanced. I consider myself at least a high intermediate in terms of floor aerobics, and this gets my heartrate up. Although I have a “boomsey,” I’m funk-impaired, despite (or perhaps because of) my experience with ballet, tap, jazz, and ballroom dancing. Still, I found this pretty easy to catch onto or at least fudge.

Class: two men and three women join Kukuwa for a diverse cast. One person will sometimes show lower impact modifications. (At the end of each song, the crew stops to high five each other. I kind of feel left out when they do it because they’re all really into the dances and having so much fun.)

Music: lively Latin-Caribbean instrumental music.

Set: a pool-side patio at a Caribbean resort. The sun comes and goes.

Production: decent picture, clear sound. There are several camera angles focusing on someone’s upper body while a new lower body move is introduced, particularly at the beginning; there is also at least one shot where the camera focuses on a background exerciser while Kukuwa introduces a new layer.

Equipment: You’ll probably want shoes (make sure you can pivot), especially if you don’t have a cushioned workout space.

Space Requirements: Ideally you should be able to take at least two or three decent-sized steps front, back, and to each side; but you might be able to adapt it if you have only enough space for one or two big steps in each direction.

DVD Notes: I have the original release, with each dance on a separate DVD. This particular DVD is chaptered by song - more or less.

Comments: I like these in spite of myself. I know I look silly doing these, but somehow I don’t really care that much. (The first few times I tried these, however, I was afraid I might invoke evil spirits by doing the wrong moves. I swear, I’m not responsible for the bird flu!) Of all of the cardio dance workouts I’ve tried (Veena & Neena’s belly-dancing, Quick Fix Cardio Hip Hop, the cardio segments from New York City Ballet 2 and Ballet Boot Camps, Zumbando with Special K), Kukuwa’s workouts are the most intense for me, right up with or perhaps even a smidge more than Chantal Pierrat’s Soul Sweat, perhaps because they’re the most different from anything else I normally do.
I’ve heard Kukuwa’s workouts billed as low impact, and if you know how to modify you could make it that. There are a few little hops, cha chas, etc., however. Also, there are a number of quarter and half pivots. Personally I usually just stay front and center for most of those moves, especially if the pivot happens during the course of the move itself. I don’t care much for the moves where you throw your head back, so I just keep mine forward.

Instructor Comments:
Kukuwa is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Normally that much energy and enthusiasm would be too much for me, but for some reason I don’t mind Kukuwa. She doesn’t pause to break down the moves much nor does she cue a great deal, so you need to be able to learn by watching (and, due to the camera angles in a few spots, guessing or improvising). The upside of that is that there’s little pressure to do it “exactly right”; I felt free to do my own thing if I don’t quite get it or aren’t able to shake my hips quite like she does. I do like that she tends to group the dances together by area of origin and tells you where they’re coming from.



I tried Konugu (the 60-minute one) and figured I'd use my rebounder for the high impact parts. I followed the first two sections fairly well. Then it became too hard to follow the steps. Kukuwa’s cueing is not stellar, even though the moves are relatively simple and repetitive. I didn’t have much luck translating the moves to the rebounder. (Did I mention that I am challenged at translating non-rebounder videos to the rebounder?)

I did find that my knees were sore the next day after the Kukuwa workouts. I avoided the pivots, but something in the moves aggravated them.

I would recommend these workouts, even though I can’t do them. Just realize that they may be hard to follow if you are as challenged as I. The music is great and Kukuwa is vivacious and inspiring.

Instructor Comments:
Please see review.