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!
In this first part we look at a few of your questions regarding where & how to learn zouk in Brazil, what level of dance experience is good to have before traveling for dance and where to find "cozy" zouk events.
A friend and I have recently been exposed to Zouk, but there are no teachers anywhere close so learning at only a few workshops a year would be a very slow way to improve. I'm a fan of learning languages intensively in their country of origin and would like to know if it is possible to learn Zouk intensively in Brazil. Would it be possible to get ~20-30 hours of Zouk practice (classes & social) per week in Sao Paulo or Rio? Our Portuguese knowledge is nonexistent as well, but I'd be willing to take classes while I was there to help understand and communicate with the teachers and partners. I'm also a very fast language learner.
Yes it definitely is possible to get 20-30 hours of zouk practice per week in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. There are more zouk teachers, schools, socials/parties and dancers in São Paulo than in Rio so it would be my first choice - unless you specifically want to learn Rio style / zouk tradicional in which case Rio is better (though there are Rio style teachers is SP too). But before everything I would advice to study more about what style(s) of Brazilian zouk you could be interested in and what teachers you would like to learn from and see where they teach.
About the language barrier - in general, most Brazilians living in Brazil speak no other language than Portuguese. Same goes for the zouk teachers. Some internationally known teachers know enough English to teach zouk, but some have very limited language skills. To really get the best out of learning zouk in Brazil you will need either to find an English speaking teacher or go the longer route of learning the language first. I'm a fast language learner too but to be able start using Portuguese from your day 1 in Brazil you would need to anyway invest time in learning the language before you go there. Obviously, if you don't understand what your teacher is telling you, you'll end up missing vital information that will save you from learning bad habits and will save you & your partner from injuries.
In any case, plan everything well in advance and it will save you a lot of time finding things in Brazil. All the best to you & good luck in you zouk journey!!
How long had you been doing Zouk before going around the world for travels? What kind of level would you recommend before embarking on a world trip? I'd only picked up Zouk nine months ago but have become absolutely addicted. Since then I've been trying to catch as many congresses as I can.
I had been dancing Brazilian zouk less than a year when I left for my trip around the world. The first zouk congress I visited abroad was about four months after I started learning zouk (and really enjoyed it) so I don't think that you're in any way too early to travel. But, we are all different - only you can tell what's best for you and basically the only way to know is by trying it out! Don't expect it to be "easy", you'll definitely need to get off comfort zone very very often.
For me, I can say now that it was quite instrumental in my development as a zouk dancer that I immersed myself with many different zouk styles early on. This wouldn't have been possible in my home country where zouk was then very new (and still is a very young dance). On my travels I got to zouk with dancers from all around the world and I certainly would have taken many things for granted and had many false beliefs or 'tunnel vision' if I hadn't personally seen, lived and danced in many different places.
As goes with a lot of things, traveling can really open your eyes - I fully recommend it!
Big dance events I find overwhelming from my tango experience (13+ years) prefer smaller festivals/ marathons / camps - cosier events with 150-350 max participants and less couples for talent. Zouk / kizomba congresses look way too crazy for me as I don't like big crowds of people. Do you know any small yet nice zouk / kizomba / fusion events?
Most zouk events are not very big. Events with 150-350 participants you'll find in most places around the world! I'm sure you've checked our Zouk Calendar? The biggest events are Berg's Congress, Brazouka Beach Festival, International Rio Zouk Congress, Zouk Fest London, Prague Zouk Congress, DansaBrasil Congress, Zürich Zouk Congress, Zouktime! and Dutch International Zouk Congress. The rest usually have around or under 350 participants.
Among those midsize / small events, the number of people can vary quite a lot between different years, and the venues may change too, which can have a big effect in the atmosphere and big the event it is. So it's hard to give an accurate prediction of what is small and cozy. But, I have a pretty good idea - on the "cozier" side, the ones I would recommend to you (the dates are for 2016):
Zouk Zensation on Koh Tao, Thailand on 2-6 Jan.
Zouk Meets Snow in Rigi, Switzerland on 29-31 Jan.
Prague Zouk Marathon in Prague, Czech Republic on 27 Apr - 2 May.
Zouk Fever Budapest Festival in Budapest, Hungary on 6-8 May.
Canada Zouk Congress in Toronto, Canada on 18-23 May.
ZoukDevils & Friends Summer Weekend in Mataró, Spain on 21-25 Jul.
Zouk Infinity in Beirut, Lebanon; Unconfirmed.
Fall for Zouk in New York, USA; Unconfirmed.
Helsinki Zouk Festival in Helsinki, Finland on 14-16 Oct.
Israel Zouk Congress in Dor Beach, Israel; Unconfirmed.
About the kizomba and fusion events: there are so so many of them. Some big ones I know - that's not really helpful to you though since that's not what you're looking for. There are lots of small ones all around the world, but I don't keep track of those since there are so many of them... I try to focus on zouk. Hope this has helped you anyway!
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