Dancing without expectations

Dancing without expectations

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” ― William Shakespeare

There are many things about social dancing that lights the spark in my eyes; Creating the first connection with a dance partner. The triumphs, surprises and even fails in leading & following.
Sharing a unique moment.

With the enjoyment of social dancing comes its challenges - and mysteries. Why one dance with the same person, even in the same place or the same music, can be a triumph once and another time the magic is >puff< gone. Even when both dancers are comfortable with their moves, even if you like the song, the floor is smooth and you're feeling good the dance may still not turn out to how you thought it would.

But what were you imagining? What are you expecting from your partner? And what if your dance partners expectations different than yours? 

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How zouk swept me off my feet - and 10 tips for (future) social dancers

How zouk swept me off my feet - and 10 tips for (future) social dancers

"Dance like everybody is watching"
-Said no one ever

Dancing seems to be a daunting idea for some. "I don't dance", "I have no rhythm", "Oh it's nice to see you dance but really I can't" - isn't that what we hear often? How many times have I seen the "Dance like nobody is watching" poster, as if dancing would be something you would need to hide or be ashamed of?

Trust me, anybody can dance.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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Javi Santos: Social dancing changed my life

Javi Santos: Social dancing changed my life

Remember about two-three months ago when we talked about what makes the magic in social dancing? Social dancing is something we at Zouk The World are passionate about - and someone else who shares this passion is Javi Santos!

Javi is a zouk dancer and teacher from Spain and he has recently put his passion out there for everyone to see, on a new website called Social Dance. He also shares his social dance insights in dance studios and on dance floors around the world. I was anxious to talk to Javi to find out more!

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Feeling or looks, what is more important in dancing? Poll results

Feeling or looks, what is more important in dancing? Poll results

In the last month’s dance survey I dove into another one of these topics that many social dancers often ponder... and argue about: What is more important in dancing - how it feels or how it looks? Both are central things in dancing!

One person may dance purely for the feeling; Think of a moment when you hear your favorite song and your body just begins to move - the feeling from the music can make you literally jump for joy or twist of agony. Or think of the feeling when you have the perfect dance in a zouk congress, connecting with your dancer partner, maybe event tapping into an emotion that plays out from the music or from that moment. There are many aspects in dance that links to 'feeling'.

Another person may enjoy dance purely for the esthetics of it - the elegance of the lines of a body, the a person can paint a picture of a song with their body and the movement. One reason surely why people love to see dance shows, go to the ballet, perform a choreography and practice their shines is for the way it looks; the visual appeal.

But what did the Zouk The World readers think when I asked them which is more important? Let’s have a look!

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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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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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11 things I wish I knew when I started dancing zouk

11 things I wish I knew when I started dancing zouk

Just a short while ago I was celebrating my four-year zoukiversary! (Yes, that means it's been four years since I started dancing Brazilian zouk.) Time flies by and a lot has happened during those years, such as traveling around the world by myself as well as basically redefining myself.. no biggie! :D Never did I imagine that such a thing as Brazilian zouk would just take my life by the balls and completely sweep me off my feet. It's been a fun ride!

Reminiscing the years passed by, it's fun(ny) to read old blog post and watch the old dance videos - that is some scary stuff! But all part of one awesome journey. This lead me to think what would I do differently if I had the chance? Nothing really, I guess. But there are indeed some things I wish I knew when I started dancing zouk. Some of these are things that people did keep telling me - but at that time I didn't really sink in. Here's what I would tell to my fellow beginner zoukeiros and zoukeiras that are in the beginning of their dance journey!

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In the flow - Zouk flow (Part 2)

In the flow - Zouk flow (Part 2)

Why is it that so often we zoukers go on about connection, the art (and mastery) of leading & following, musicality - and now about flow?

Perhaps it's because these things are the essence of zouk. They're what makes zouk so great, so magical... do I dare even to say unique? At the very least, these are the things what many of us identify in zouk and fall in love with.

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In the flow - 5 keys to the magic of dance flow (Part 1)

In the flow - 5 keys to the magic of dance flow (Part 1)

Flow is a moment in time when you’re both challenged at the activity that you’re doing, and when you also have complete autonomy in the task you’re conducting.
Everett Bogue, in The Hidden Art of Achieving Creative Flow.

Have you experienced flow? Dance flow? Creative flow?

I have. One thing that's so great about dancing - and dancing zouk is what I'm writing about here in particular - is the flowing motion. When you're in the dance flow, you will certainly have one of the most pleasurable moments on the dance floor (or anywhere).

It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. 
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

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