What makes a great leader (in social dance)? Poll results

What makes a great leader (in social dance)? Poll results

"In some types of partner dance, lead and follow are designations for the two dancers comprising a dance couple."
"The lead is responsible for guiding the couple and initiating transitions to different dance steps and, in improvised dances, for choosing the dance steps to perform. The lead conveys his choices and direction to the follow through subtle physical and visual signals, thereby allowing the couple to be smoothly coordinated." Wikipedia

If you look at the above description of a lead, the task seems concise and maybe even fairly simple. Leading is not rocket science. But being 'a great leader'.... ask any follower and you'll get a long list of things (or perhaps, a long silence). 

In the last month's poll we asked you to tell in your own words, what makes a great leader (in social dancing)?

Leaders; Do you recognize yourselves - your leading - in these words:

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Challenge: Why I love Brazilian Zouk

Challenge: Why I love Brazilian Zouk

I recently got a dance video related challenge from a friend & student of mine. And I’m always up for a challenge!! But what would a blogger do - turn this into a blog post, obviously.

The challenge was: Why do you dance what you dance? Post your favorite video of your favorite dance(s).

A great challenge - and a tricky one! 

 

SO, WHY DO I DANCE BRAZILIAN ZOUK?

While many participating in this circulating challenge have been posting videos of dance shows, competition performances and demos that have inspired them to dance, for me, the ultimate reason I dance is not entirely in the dance itself.

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What music pulls Zoukers to the dance floor? Poll results

What music pulls Zoukers to the dance floor? Poll results

You know that feeling when you just can't sit still; this urge that you need to wiggle your body right now? What is that irresistible thing that makes a person - no matter their age or shape - want to move their feet or shake their booty?

It's the music. 

For me music definitely is the thing that pulls me to the dance floor like a magnet. And the delicious tum-tchik-tchik of the zouk beat is what has been driving people to learn Brazilian zouk, just as much as the dance itself - or even more.

Zouk music or in the context of this post, zoukable music, encompasses a very broad range of music styles. For one person their favorite music to dance zouk to can be Wiggle by Jason Derulo, for another person it can be Gravity by Sara Bareille and for another it might be Lambazouk by Gil Semedo. All of those (and more) goes easily in the spectrum of "music for Brazilian zouk". And that's one of the things that makes Brazilian zouk such an intriguing dance: all the variety, all the marvelous options and suggestions different styles of music can provide. The sheer volume of inspiration that can be drawn from the music is hard to put into words. And music evolves, so does Brazilian zouk. 

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Mistakes - a hidden shortcut to learning

Mistakes - a hidden shortcut to learning

When was the last time you heard somebody say “I love making mistakes”? Umm, never? I think never is when I’ve heard that.

And who would love making mistakes? Aren’t we naturally programmed and brought up to succeed, to “do the right thing”, to aim for perfection? I think many of us are. And I think it’s mainly a good thing; I don’t know what the world would be like if everybody started to aim to fail, to be terrible.

But, if you’re obsessed about being perfect and expect to be best at everything, then I think you’re up for a lot of disappointments. It’s no newsflash that nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes (yes, even you, your partner, your boss, your teacher). It’s natural. And better yet, it can be a great untapped resource - at least if you’re at all into things like ‘growing’, ‘learning’ and ‘developing’.

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Pasty Pieternelle: "There is no shortcut to Brazilian zouk" - Interview Part 2

Pasty Pieternelle: "There is no shortcut to Brazilian zouk" - Interview Part 2

This is the second part of Zouk The World's extensive interview with Pasty Pieternelle - one of the most charismatic dancers in the world of Brazilian zouk.

In the first part we talked to Pasty about how he got into Brazilian zouk in the first place, how he decided to make the dance better, the reasons for his less conventional teaching methods and how he is actively working to improve the dance community with his 'alterego', Pastycho "Your Dance Teacher Online".

Moving onto more hot topics, we continue talking to Pasty about what advice he would give to a person starting to teach Brazilian zouk, how he keeps himself inspired after all the years of dancing professionally and what in his opinion makes up the best social dancing experience?

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Pasty Pieternelle: "I made Brazilian zouk my challenge" - Interview Part 1

Pasty Pieternelle: "I made Brazilian zouk my challenge" - Interview Part 1

A one-of-a-kind dancer - that's Pasty Pieternelle for you. Born on the island of Curaçao and living in the Netherlands, he is known all over the world for his touching shows and experimental dance workshops. Anyone who has also danced with Pasty or seen him on the dance floor, is sure to know he's just as charismatic social dancer as he is on stage and gives his everything to his partner.

To me personally - and I'm certainly not alone - Pasty & his partner Josta are one of first Brazilian zouk teachers that really made an everlasting impression on me, back in the first zouk congress I visited as a budding zouker. I've had the pleasure to cross paths with Pasty several times over the years, and this time I jumped to the chance of interviewing him for the Zouk The World readers. And oh boy, what an interview it turned out to be!! I took this opportunity to ask him all important questions about his teaching philosophies, his relationship to Brazilian zouk, about his role as a dance scene mentor and how he would advice new zouk teachers.

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Why do you dance? Poll results

Why do you dance? Poll results

Why do you dance?
Is that an easy or a hard question?

To me, it’s quite a tough question. And I love tough questions! Especially asking them (hehe). So that’s what I asked you last month! In November’s Poll of the Month I asked you to tell us why do you dance, and more specifically, what is the most rewarding aspect to you in dancing. No multiple choices this time, just a chance for you to share your own dance motivations!

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Q&A - traveling for dance and cozy zouk events

Q&A - traveling for dance and cozy zouk events

 I have recently been exposed to Zouk, but there are no teachers anywhere close - is it possible to learn Zouk intensively in Brazil?

How long had you been doing Zouk before going around the world for travels? I'd only picked up Zouk nine months ago but have become absolutely addicted. 

I find big dance events overwhelming - do you know any small yet nice zouk / kizomba / fusion events?

Zouk The World gets questions from readers every now and then - and I'm always happy to help! Some of these questions might be on your minds too, so I thought I'd share some of these questions and my answers!

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Finding your Dance Confidence - 10 tips (Part 2)

Finding your Dance Confidence - 10 tips (Part 2)

Yesterday I was talking about dance confidence and what is it made of. Read the Part 1: Case of the missing Dance Confidence.

Ok, so now we have some idea about dance confidence. But how to build those confidence levels?

Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint what makes or breaks one’s confidence. How confident you naturally are, what experiences you've had and what you may expect from yourself are just a few things that influence it it's very individual. There is no secret recipe for a 100% bullet-proof dance confidence - but there are some things that can help along! Below I share some simple tips that I’ve used over the years to boost my dance confidence.

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The case of the missing Dance Confidence (Part 1)

The case of the missing Dance Confidence (Part 1)

Why are you always so happy at the parties?  This was a rather surprising question one of my dancing friends asked me right after the last Helsinki Zouk Festival. The answer to me felt obvious; Why wouldn’t I be happy? It’s so much fun to be at festival parties, surrounded by awesome dancers and to get to do the thing that I love - dance zouk! But there was a point in that question: dance parties and festivals are not just moments of “riding on top of the clouds”. There are ups and downs… And sometimes, it might feel there are way more downs than ups.

A festival party or even the everyday dance social can sometimes feel like climbing to the top of Mount Everest. When you’re struggling the get forward there are some others that appear to make it to the top of the hill so effortlessly. How come some people seem to naturally ‘have more fun’? Is there a secret shortcut to being in a good mood or getting a good dance flow?

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What training combinations best support dancing Brazilian zouk? Poll results (Part 2)

What training combinations best support dancing Brazilian zouk? Poll results (Part 2)

Can learning Kizomba make you better at Brazilian Zouk?
Do notice your Zouk skills improving with regular stretching exercises?
Or how about going to Hiphop classes?

Maybe. It doesn't hurt, I'd say. These will certainly build your coordination, balance, flexibility, musicality, leading and following skills... All of them are things that any Zouk dancer would welcome.

But if you would be looking for the most optimal palette of training types to supplement dancing Brazilian Zouk, would your list include Kizomba, stretching and Hiphop? What kind of training do you think best supplements dancing Brazilian Zouk?

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What type of training best supplements dancing Brazilian zouk? Poll results (Part 1)

What type of training best supplements dancing Brazilian zouk? Poll results (Part 1)

Can skills learned from one dance style be transferred to another style?

Do dancers significantly benefit from exercising their bodies (and minds) with other types of training than just their preferred dance style?

If you ask me, the answers would be "Yes, to a certain degree" and "Yes, definitely". I don't think anybody will question that; a great dancer is not only great at a narrow topic (their preferred style), nope. Great dancers are versatile in their technique, have a wide library of movements, are familiar with different types of music and have a solid physique, among other things. To achieve this, training several dance styles helps as well as taking care of & strengthening your body by providing it with different types of stimulation.

The question really boils down to what are the dance styles and other types of training that can provide the most benefit to your preferred dance style? How can we determine what are those styles that benefit the most?

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2015 Helsinki Zouk Festival - learning to breathe again

2015 Helsinki Zouk Festival - learning to breathe again

Have you ever had the feeling of flying?
Have you ever felt out of breath by happiness?

I have, the past weekend at the Helsinki Zouk Festival.

For the fourth time, I had the pleasure to attend to this gem of an event. Freddy Marinho & Andressa Castelhano together with their Rio Zouk Style team have little by little raised the bar for what can be described as a truly top level zouk festival. After well exceeding everybody’s expectations last year, all of us were nervously and excitedly looking forward to what this year’s edition had in store for us. Can all the magic be repeated?

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Zouk in Hanoi - interview with Binh Mai

Zouk in Hanoi - interview with Binh Mai

Want to travel around the world and dance Brazilian zouk while you're at it? It's possible! Zouk has already spread to almost all corners of the world. This month I had the pleasure to catch up with Binh Mai, also know as Deepwell Zouk, who works to spread Brazilian zouk in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This is another edition on Zouk The World's project to map and present every place in the world where you can dance zouk! We’re talking with people that make zouk happen around the world, inviting active dancers and zouk teachers to share their story and also give the best information about their local zouk scene for anyone planning to make a visit! See our previous story about Zouk in Dublin with Juarez Weiss and Mona Byrne! 

But now, let's travel to Hanoi and talk to Binh Mai about zouk in Vietnam!

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12 types of dancers you don't want to be

12 types of dancers you don't want to be

I was laughing at one comedy video the other day about “6 types of guys you’ve danced with”.

In case you can’t open the video, here’s what you would see: A typical bar dance floor where a lady is approached (failingly) by six different types of guys;

  • “The shower” whose dancing too excitedly with a drink in his hand, showering the lady with it.
  • “The creep” who lurks in the shadows and with no warning drapes over the creeped-put lady.
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Patience as an active tool in social dancing (Part 2)

Patience as an active tool in social dancing (Part 2)

One topic I come across on a regular basis when talking with other dances is patience. Many dance teachers find it’s one of the most important qualities in dancing and learning; this came up in my conversations with lambazouk master Ricardo Ferrari (interview to come), kizomba teacher Kirsi Van Sol (read her insights for dancing in Lisbon & Porto) and many others.

This, and my personal ups & downs with patience, lead me to write about this topic. Welcome to Part 2 of the Patience-series! Last week I already started with talking about long-term patience and perseverance in the long road of developing as a social dancer:

“Be patient” - the (way too) long road from zero to hero

Patience works with us, as well as against us, in short term too; not just the way we learn and develop in the long run, but also how we act and react each moment on the dance floor. Impatience has a way with interfering with our social dancing. This post is all about how to improve your social dance experience by mustering up some more patience.

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“Be patient” - the (way too) long road from zero to hero (Part 1)

“Be patient” - the (way too) long road from zero to hero (Part 1)

“I’ve been going to zouk classes already for one year, why are the teachers still not doing any head movements?”

“Last week I was having many great dances in the salsa party but now it seems I don’t know anything, I feel like quitting.”

“I’m never going to get to that level.”


Sound familiar?

To be honest, I’m not the most patient person in the world. When I start to do something, I want to be ready now - in fact, I want it done yesterday. Even if I’ve grown to be more and more patient and more relaxed over the years, it’s hard to maintain your patience in the hectically buzzing world.

Patience is a skill we can develop - we’re certainly not born with it (think of any child you know). And, as I’ve noticed, it’s a valuable skill for dancing too! In social dancing patience is connected with being perseverant with your dance training and being forgiving to yourself. It also goes along with being present in the moment, being connected to your dance partner, being conscious about what is happening now and not feeling anxious about the future.

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What dance style to learn next? Poll results

What dance style to learn next? Poll results

September marks the change of the season for many of us. In the northern hemisphere we're getting ready for autumn & winter, and getting back to our routines after a blissful summer. In the southern hemisphere it's the time when the worst parts of the winter have been conquered and the spring is arriving. This is the time of the year when many people are looking for a life change and for most of us it equals a new hobby!

In relation to this, last month I had a lighter topic for the poll of the month. I asked you "which partner dance would you like to learn next?" I gave you some ready options; Argentine tango, bachata, Brazilian zouk, cha cha, cross body salsa, Cuban salsa, kizomba, lindy hop, rumba, samba de gafieira and west coast swing. Each respondent could only select one dance style in their response, or alternatively, they could also name a dance outside the list. 

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Be a dance superhero!

Be a dance superhero!

Wouldn’t it be great to be a superhero? To be strong as steel or to fly like hawk? I think it would! At least I’d like to try what it would be like to be one.

But in all reality, you don’t need superhuman capabilities to make a gigantic difference in other people’s lives. And that - if something - qualifies for “being a superhero” in my opinion.

This post is dedicated to all the superheroes who have and are making a difference in my life!

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Time to get excited - first look at the 2016 Zouk Congress Calendar!

Time to get excited - first look at the 2016 Zouk Congress Calendar!

It's that time of the year again: Time for a zouk calendar update! There's only about three months left of this year so it's about time we look at what's going to rock our world in 2016. Not everyone who dances Brazilian zouk travel to congresses and festivals around the world. But those of us that do, we do it with a passion!

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