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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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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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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Salsa vs. Zouk

Salsa vs. Zouk

You might remember from last year that I started a new chapter in my dance adventures: learning cross-body salsa. I spent the last four months of 2014 learning the salsa basics and ended the year feeling quite excited about my new dance skills. My spins were faster than ever, coordination and balance improved, following skills renewed and generally I feel superb. And utterly confused.

But I had no time to feel renewed or confused. Almost straight from my last salsa class I flew to Brazil for a month of zouking, all day and night. I quite literally had to zouk the salsa out of me and fast! It didn’t take long to sink back in my comfort zone - into the arms of the fantastic Brazilian zouk dancers. The month in Brazil was like a month in *sigh* heaven, to put it short. After coming back home from Brazil I dove further back into zouk. After the bliss of Brazil I didn’t really miss salsa all that much - the zouk tunes were calling to me like sirens luring sailors to shipwreck.

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A breath of fresh air - revisiting Alicante

A breath of fresh air - revisiting Alicante

Welcome to Alicante! On the Costa Blanca (the ‘white coast’), in the southeast corner of Spain lies this jet-set port, laid back beach town, urban metropolis and historic city. Know both as Alicante and Alacant, the city is home to some 350.000 people, plus another 450.000 people in its surrounding towns and hundreds of thousands of tourists and summer residents that flock to Alicante each year.

I had a chance to revisit Alicante a bit earlier this year. It had been a while… a looong while. I was picturing in my head a plain sandy beach and a 1990’s cookie-cutter beach resort but - to my pleasant surprise - found a lot more than that!

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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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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 dancer's challenge: Learning salsa!

Zouk dancer's challenge: Learning salsa!

A while back I decided to take on a new dance challenge: I signed up for salsa classes for this autumn season. In other words: Salseros, beware! :D

So starting early August I've been learning cross-body salsa with a simple intention of becoming a fluent social salsera. I committed myself to this project for four months -  it will be exciting to see how much I improve during that time and how I'll feel about salsa then!

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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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