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

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.

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What makes a great follower? Your tips for social dancers! (Poll results)

What makes a great follower? Your tips for social dancers! (Poll results)

A great follower is patient with the lead and allows them time to make decisions about what moves they wish to execute, without trying to lead themselves. -Rose, Ireland

Dance as one even when you are doing something separately. -Sophie, USA

Being able to understand and respond to the the shape of the music and the motion of the leader. -Anonymous

I love when girls ask guys to dance, especially when they're beginners. -Henning, Germany

What are the qualities of a great follower? How can one become the most wanted follower of the dance floor? What is following really all about? This is what I set out to discover when I asked you "what makes a great follower in social dancing?" And Zouk The World's readers certainly did not fail me.

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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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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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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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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 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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Porto and Douro Valley - Misty alleys, strong wines and winding hips

Porto and Douro Valley - Misty alleys, strong wines and winding hips

Part 3 of Portugal in 10 days: A "Tour de Portugal" from Lisbon to Porto!

On the last leg of the Portugal trip we’ll visit some the highlights of the northern corner of the country; Porto and the Douro Valley. Again collaborating with us on this post is the superb kizomba teacher Kirsi VanSol. Scroll to the end of the post to see her dance tips! But first, let's do a bit of sightseeing and wine tasting!

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Lisbon and Sintra - Walking to the beat of Kizomba

Lisbon and Sintra - Walking to the beat of Kizomba

Part 1 of Portugal in 10 days: A "Tour de Portugal" from Lisbon to Porto!

Every year I try to make at least one trip to some of the classic European holiday destinations. And last year my summer holiday trip was all about Portugal. Here is the first chapter a three-part story jam-packed with travel & dance tips! 

I was lucky to have collaborating with me on this Portugal series a friend of mine & kizomba-dancer-teacher-extraordinaire Kirsi VanSol. Kirsi wrote specifically to you her fantastic kizomba tips to make sure you get the best of your holiday in Portugal! Scroll to the end of the post to see where you can dance in Lisbon!!

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Like Festival in Buenos Aires - A likeable mix of lambazouk and kizomba

Like Festival in Buenos Aires - A likeable mix of lambazouk and kizomba

Like Festival is a fairly new addition to the international zouk scene. Now I know - let’s not get confused here: Welcome to the Like Festival 2 in Buenos Aires! This is not be confused with the highly popular annual kizomba festival, also called Like Festival, held for the sixth time this September Lisbon. Well, when you use such a ubiquitous world as 'like', it’s no wonder it will pop up in every possible corner of the world. Anyway...

Zouk The World is always curious in anything interesting happening in the zouk scene around the world so I procured a reporter to scout this Buenos Aires Like Festival! Meet Jaakko Pispala, a passionate zouk dancer living in São Paulo, Brazil! He is working behind many initiatives to spread around the world, one of them is a dance-travel agency ZK Adventures, another Lambazouk Finland! He was kind enough of to tell us his Like Festival experience - so sit back and enjoy!

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Dance event survival guide

Dance event survival guide

Off to a dance festival but don't really know what to expect? How to plan a trip to a dance congress? What do you need to pack with you? How to best prepare yourself and make the most of the event?

Lucky you, going to a dance event - they're so much fun! This is the fully updated survival guide for you who are going to your first international dance event or you who want to have remind yourself of what to pack and prepare for. First we look at where to go, then other preparations for the event, then how to survive the event itself and what to do after!

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Your best social dancing experiences? Poll results

Your best social dancing experiences? Poll results

This is the start of the “Poll of the month” blog post series!

For a long time I've wanted to hear more of your thoughts so I when I opened this new website I also posted the first Poll of the month. And I was feeling quite brave right from the start - I set out on a quest to get dancers to share their best social dancing experiences. I asked you to tell where you had your best social dancing experience and what made this the best.

Those are some tough questions, I know. ‘Social dancing experience’ is not something you can quantify. It can be a fleeting moment on the dance floor - or a lasting memory. But even if it's a lasting memory, it's rarely something you write down, or compare with other experiences.  Or do you ever make notes, such as, “I give this dance 76/100 points.” I hope not!

It felt like those were also pretty private questions - do you really want to share your very personal experiences, I wondered? And it did indeed feel like you were shy to give me your replies. But I was curious and undeterred: I wanted your stories. In this post I spill the beans. Here are your best replies and my best social dancing experiences!

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Floorcraft in practice - 14 tips for the dance floor (Part 2)

Floorcraft in practice - 14 tips for the dance floor (Part 2)

In Part 1 you could read the introduction to floorcraft. 

Now let's get to work - here are 14 practical tips to improve your floorcraft! This includes some general dance floor etiquette and basic leading & following skills - all you need to make the dance floor safe and enjoyable for everybody.

Some of the tips towards the end of the list are categorised specifically for leaders and some for followers, but all are important to know no matter whether you lead or follow.

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Social dancing floorcraft - dance floor survival basics (Part 1)

Social dancing floorcraft - dance floor survival basics (Part 1)

Imagine a big open space and your favorite song - you can already see yourself dancing across the floor, can’t you? I love a dance that covers the entire floor space, gliding from one end of the room to the other. But most times you go out dancing you don’t have a massive open space: you’re on a dance floor full of people.

The dance floor is open to everybody and no matter how crowded the floor is and no matter if you’re a beginner or a professional dancer, you have an equal share of the floor. So how can I get the best out of the space so that everybody on the dance floor can enjoy their moment? Well, I looked it up. Welcome to Zouk The World's “Floorcraft 101”!

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Zouk music - your guide to artists and playlists

Zouk music - your guide to artists and playlists

I often get questions about zouk music... Us dancers love to get new music as much as we can. Even though our music collections can already have hundreds or thousands of tracks we keep looking for something new & exciting. I'm a passionate consumer of zouk music myself and look up new music every week so I thought I would offer you my playlists for Brazilian zouk!

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Baltic Sensual Weekend 2014

Baltic Sensual Weekend 2014

Whenever there's a zouk event closeby - I'm there. And so I was at the Baltic Sensual Weekend in Estonia last weekend! This was the second edition of the event that last year took place in Villa Andropoff, now in Hotel Lepanina in the area of Kabli, about half an hour drive south from the "summer capital of Estonia", Pärnu, and about 180 km from Tallinn. The idea seemed to be to gather Baltic & Northern European zouk & kizomba dancers under the same roof, learn some new moves & refresh on the fundamentals, leave the city for some nature & fresh air - and of course to party until early morning!

And what can I say? Mission accomplished!

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