Q&A - From basics to beyond and zouk trips to Europe and São Paulo

After you learn the basics how do you step to the next level? I saw that dancers of zouk have moments when they don’t make the steps anymore or they make different steps and doesn’t look like basic.

I'm a big fan of zouk and I'm travelling to Europe in September, so naturally I want to squeeze in as much zouk as I can. Do you know of good events or places to go? 

I'm going to São Paulo this summer. Where can I find lessons that get progressively harder?
 

Zouk The World gets questions from readers every now and then - and I always try to help! There's a bit of backlog so apologies for the late replies. Some of these questions might be on your minds too, so I thought I'd share my answers here in the blog.

 
 

 

Question

Hi, my question is that after you learn the basics how do you step to the next level, I mean the key is to do figures and stuff but I have to keep the slow quick quick count? I saw that dancers of zouk have moments when they don’t make the steps anymore or they make different steps and doesn’t look like basic or infinity step. I want to learn to dance zouk and want to know if is a rule that I have to respect when I want to make my dance flowing, I don’t know how I must respect the count. Thank you!
-Palaghia
 

Answer

Hi Palaghia! Thank you for your question, I think this is something many people are wondering when they start learning Brazilian zouk - or any dance for that matter. 

There's really no straight-forward answer for you. For one, there's no specific point where you move from one level to the other. And secondly, knowing the timing (the counts) and basic dance technique (including not only the basic movements but also understanding the correct body position and lead & follow basics...) are important in every stage, probably in any dance you’re learning. The more advanced you get, the more time you’ll spend on refining the dance foundations - I might even say that learning “figures” (movement combinations) is the easy part. Mastering the basics, including the rhythm, is something you can never lose focus on.

My advice to you would be not to think about getting to the "next level" but to always first and foremost continue learning, enjoy dancing, use that those nice flowing basic steps and focus on finding a good connection with the person you’re dancing with.

I realise that it's not the type of answer that you'll be satisfied with at this point. I do understand your question, and it's an important one. Brazilian zouk has a wide spectrum of different styles - some styles may look so different that it can be challenging to notice the similarities. Also, it can sometimes be hard to see the connection between the very basic steps & timing of zouk with how some improver / advanced zouk dancers are dancing (like you said "I saw that dancers of zouk have moments when they don’t make the steps anymore or they make different steps and doesn’t look like basic").

It's very true that some dancers don't do the basic steps that often; it doesn't mean it makes the dancing any better (this is always subjective) or that you should try to copy a certain type of dancing just because some people dance that way - no. Doing the basic steps well is always a good thing! Unless you've been dancing quite a long time, just by looking at how people dance it can be hard to see the difference between advanced zouk dancers that have great technique with dancers who just improvise with no technique. And in any case, zouk is just as much (or even more) about how it feels & the connection between two dancers, and not how it looks. So... what you see may not give you a great indication of what you should do.

In a nutshell: Focus on establishing a good connection with your partner and good basic dance technique. Once those are in place, you'll find it easier to improvise more. Patience and enjoying each step is the key in learning.


Question

Hello, I'm a big fan of zouk and I'm travelling to europe in september, so naturally I want to squeeze in as much zouk as I can. You made a really good post about all the social events in amsterdam, which I thought would be perfect if I could find ones for the places I'm going (Prague, Barcelona, Malta and Berlin). Do you know of good events or places to go? or have any tips for how I can find it, because I've been trying to do a lot of research online and not finding much :(
- Courtney
 

Answer

Hey Courtney! Lucky you, September is a great time to travel for zouk in Europe. The summer & holiday season (July-August) tends to slow things down and most schools and regular socials may be off for some weeks. By September things are kick-starting for the autumn season again! There’s already quite a few big events held in September so that’s a good place to start, some of them in the areas you mentioned even. Click here to the full Zouk Calendar >> 

It’s nice to hear you find the Zouk in Amsterdam blog post useful. While it’s not possible to keep the information updated, it can serve as a reference for where to start. There’s unfortunately no known comprehensive and up-to-date index for all zouk locations, but there are many good networks to reach out to. I’ve found Facebook as the best resource in most places. Post or send questions on any pages or groups for the cities you’re interested in. I gathered here a few that I know or could find, see the list below. Anywhere in central Europe you’re not far from zouk dancers! In Prague, Barcelona and Berlin I know you can find zouk dancers and activities quite easily & often. I’m not aware of the how the Malta zouk scene is but you’re welcome to check it out (see link below)!

BARCELONA
Facebook group: Zouk Barcelona
Dance schools / teachers: Activa't BarcelonaDanceEmotion | Olaya&Papagaio - RitmoDendê | Spiral Dancers

BERLIN
Facebook group: Zouk Germany
Dance schools / teachers: Modern Zouk | Zouk Berlin

PRAGUE
Facebook groups: Prague Zouk | Zouk in Czech Republic
Dance schools / teachers: Prague Zouk Academy | Zoukio - Petr & Jarka

MALTA
Dance schools / teachers: Zouk Malta


Question

Hey!! I'm going to São Paulo this summer and want to spend as much time dancing zouk as possible (I've been learning zouk for about 6 months now). I'd love to get some advice from you, I know you are probably really busy and your time is very valuable so I'll highly value any and all advice you are able to give me. I've read all your related posts on Zouk The World blog but do you think I could ask you more specific questions. The particular question that I have is in which part of the city do you recommend I stay? Where can I find lessons that get progressively harder?
- Marco
 

Answer

Hi Marco! If you want to immerse yourself with Brazilian zouk then Brazil is the place to go! São Paulo is a great location as there are lots (hundreds or even thousands) of zouk dancers and many big social nights every week. I’ve stayed in São Paulo numerous occasions to train zouk. Though I’ve visited only a few of them, there are many many dance schools in all over this massive city teaching various styles of Brazilian zouk. In a huge oasis of Brazilian dance - São Paulo - it’s hard to say what’s the best… But you’ll certainly get to dance a lot there!

Personally I’ve stayed in Consolação / Paulista area, which is very central in terms of transport connections, shopping, restaurants etc. Like any big city in Brazil, certain areas are to be avoided and it’s best to consult the locals on what’s the current situation - I haven’t had any problems in that area during my travels. Some of the well-known dance schools you could start with - all located in that area:

Clube Latino  |  Movimento Lambazouk  |  Solum

It’s up to your personal preference of where to stay. What may direct your options are finding the school that offers classes with the style of zouk you’re most interested in or that has a schedule that matches yours. In case you're not fluent in Portuguese, note that it’s not very likely to find group classes taught in English, unless it’s a special workshop or an event. You might find some teachers that can give private classes in English, which might be the easiest way to learn progressively in a shorter period. (There aren’t too many ‘congresses’ in São Paulo, maybe because many internationally known teachers come from São Paulo and already give classes there more or less regularly, and the local scene is so big that every week they have parties as big or bigger than the congress parties in Europe).

In case you haven't already, you can also check a few of our older posts from the São Paulo below. Even though the posts are a couple years old, most of the clubs for instance are still going strong!

Week in the life of a zouk dancer in São Paulo (- and it isn’t a bad life!)
Can't stay away from São Paulo!
And - see Zouk The World's handy dance dictionary for English - Portuguese

If you want to learn Brazilian zouk intensively, there's also quite a few nice Immersion programs all over the world!


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