Make most of your travels: 10 best tips

Make most of your travels: 10 best tips

There are a few things I've learned while traveling around the world.... like never ask for "spicy" food in Mexico or Thailand and don't fall asleep on the beach without a 50+ sunscreen. Well, you probably know these already, don't you? Below some a bit deeper life lessons I've picked up along the way: my tried and true notes to make the most of your travels!

 

1. There's no perfect time.

Life is here and now. The last thing you should do is to put back something important because "it's not the best time to do it". Most likely it never will be the best time. You think you're too old? Really, it's never too late. You don't have two years to spare on your trip around the world or a month to see all of Buenos Aires? Well, what I've noticed there's never "enough time". No matter if you have two weeks or two decades for your trip you'll end up wanting more, not seeing it all. Hey, there's still tons of things I haven't seen or done even in my home town! Just make use of the time you have in stead of making excuses.

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Break the rules, break the routines - 5 keys to being innovative

Break the rules, break the routines - 5 keys to being innovative

I took a break from my daily routine and headed to Slush. Not the wet snow you might find on the streets of Helsinki this time of the year, but the hottest IT start-up event in the Nordics. Though slightly off-topic on this blog (will get on-topic soon), I truly can recommend attending Slush if you are an IT innovator or investor anywhere in the world - these guys really know how to make a cool event!

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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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Beyond words: Helsinki Zouk Festival 2014

Beyond words: Helsinki Zouk Festival 2014

It takes quite a lot of effort to create something good. But what does it take to make... magic?

I know, I know. Last year I made the statement that Helsinki Zouk Festival is a zouk event quite unlike any other. And true, the 2013 HZF was great. But indeed, the last weekend's 2014 HZF was simply beyond words.

I try not bore you with everything I've already told before. Yes, Helsinki is a cold, dark place in November. The zouk scene is small but us zoukers in Helsinki are extremely proud of it. And I think many may agree we've developed a fairly nice group of dancers here. But now, we also have one of the best zouk events in the world!

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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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Zouk non-stop at Zouktime 2014!

Zouk non-stop at Zouktime 2014!

A couple weeks ago, after a 3 year break, I made a return visit to Brno for Zouktime 2014. This was the fifth edition of what is among (if not the) best zouk congresses in Europe at the moment. Yes, I said it.... Zouktime definitely topped my zouk congress chart for the past couple years!

Taking place in a quiet city of Brno, Czech Republic, Zouktime attracts a couple hundred zouk dancers from all around Europe and the world. And there were quite a few names that certainly did attract the people... 

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Helsinki Zouk Flash Mob and IZFM 2014

Helsinki Zouk Flash Mob and IZFM 2014

September 21st to me nowadays equals International Zouk Flash Mob! Last Sunday we yet again danced zouk all around the world. Over one hundred cities and thousands of zouk dancers hosted flash mobs with one zouk song and one choreography. And all this hard work only to share our passion for zouk!

This year the IZFM organisers had also teamed up with Peace Day - joyful dancers and the idea of uniting people all around the world through international collaboration are good ways to promote peace, aren't they!

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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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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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The orange Amsterdam

The orange Amsterdam

Q: What can you do in Amsterdam if you're not interested in "coffee" shops or peep shows?
A: Plenty.

Introducing Amsterdam: the capital Netherlands, the country's most populous city, its cultural hub and probably the most popular tourist & transit destination. Known around the world for the lenient drug (and various other) policies, the canals, clogs, tulips, windmills and a history of commerce, Netherlands is one tiny European giant. Tiny? The country is smaller than the island state of Dominican Republic and its famous capital has a mere population of about 800.000 - that is one tenth of London, one third of Paris and even slightly less than in Stockholm.

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Zouk in the Netherlands .....gezellig!

Zouk in the Netherlands .....gezellig!

There are a couple contenders in Europe for the title of the biggest zouk city. For quite a while Prague, Barcelona, London and Amsterdam have been at the top of the list. All the aforementioned cities have a large number of zouk teachers, dance schools, congresses and party nights and are pretty much neck and neck for the #1 zouk destination in Europe.

Lately, I've been hearing that the zouk scene in Amsterdam is not like it was in its heydays and perhaps Prague and Barcelona are now in reign...? Be that as it may, I was in Amsterdam last week and certainly had to go check out the local zouk scene!

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AfroLatin Flow - a hot dance weekend in Helsinki!

AfroLatin Flow - a hot dance weekend in Helsinki!

It was the warmest weekend of May when AfroLatin Flow arrived to Helsinki. Not just hot artists and sensual dance styles but also warm weathers, yay! Those three put together means we were in for a very steamy weekend!

AfroLatin Flow is a three-day festival for the kizomba, zouk and bachata dancers, organised by IDNZ. There were quite a number of talented artists involved:

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How to improve your musicality? 6 exercises for dancers (part 2)

 How to improve your musicality? 6 exercises for dancers (part 2)

From theory to practice - how can you improve your musicality? 

“And if the music's good, you dance."
- Unknown

Perhaps you've taken a musicality workshop with your dance teacher or at a congress, and you have already an idea how to work on your musicality (I fully recommend taking workshops and private classes!). But there's plenty of exercises you can do on your own, and this will allow really to dig into details and work at your own pace. Below a collection of exercises that will flex your musical muscles! I hope you'll find these tools useful - I've worked with a variation and combination of these over the years and I feel they've helped me.

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Getting a grip with musicality - the most vague and insightful part of dancing (part 1)

Musicality is to me one of the most important aspects of dancing. The best dance partners are gifted in many respects; technique, style, connection and they are overall great people. Musicality is one important trait among those, it helps an otherwise good dancer rise to an extraordinary dancer. And for me it's the thing that makes the magic happen on the dance floor.

In the words of ballet teacher Deborah Wingert. “Musical dancers don’t just turn until they stop. They turn until they have to move on to the next point in the music. Musical dancers never get so caught up in steps that they ignore the music.”

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London Zouk Fest - a happy meeting of zouk styles!

London Zouk Fest - a happy meeting of zouk styles!

Back-to-back festival weekends take a toll on any dancer. But I'm not any dancer, I told myself - I can take it! :D So just a couple days after Tallinn Salsa Festival I repacked my bags for London Zouk Fest. I had been looking forward to this lambada-zouk & Vero zouk weekend for quite a while - both my favourite zouk styles under the same roof!

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It's time for carnavaaaal!

It's time for carnavaaaal!

Carnival! The most colourful, indulgent and rambunctious time of the year! Carnival is a festive season which occurs according to the Catholic calendar before lent, setting this year at around 28 February - 4 March. Depending where you go you may see different types of events - but you can expect massive street parties and spectacular parades. Costumes and masks are worn, and in fact historically they served a purpose: behind those you could hide your true identity, race and gender.

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