Brazilian zouk - what is it?


Brazilian zouk is a partner dance originating from Brazil. Also known as zouk-lambada, the dance is a descendant of lambada, the music & dance style that swept over the world like a storm in the late 1980's. Brazilian zouk is characterized by the dancers’ undulating bodies and the girls' flowing hair. Depending on the style of Brazilian zouk, you can see a close connection embrace and long graceful steps, strong hip movements, body isolations and upper-body torsions, wild spins and whip-like head movements. While the dance is often called sensual, it is not sexual or erotic. It is danced by people of all ages in night clubs, dance schools and events around the world!

Like many dance styles, Brazilian zouk is ever evolving. There are a few different lines or styles of Brazilian zouk, the main three derivations at the moment (April 2015) being ‘lambazouk’, ‘traditional zouk’ and ‘modern zouk’.

Lambazouk (or zouk-lambada or Porto Seguro style) has the closest connection to lambada. Lambazouk dancers use 1-2-3 (or quick-quick-slow) rhythm and dance to a more upbeat music. The dance incorporates the accents of the music with hip movements, deep dips, whip-like head movements and fast turns. Exchanging partners mid-song, leading with only visual contact and strong positive energy are typical for lambazouk.

Traditional zouk (or Rio style zouk) is a more sensual, romantic and dramatic style of Brazilian zouk. The dancers use the slow-quick-quick rhythm, marking ‘tum’ beat in the zouk music. It is common to not use only the rhythm but also the pauses, melody and lyrics in the dance as well as utilize different dynamics in the timing. Moves such as body rolls and extensions are typical as well as movements influenced by jazz, ballet and contemporary dance.

Modern zouk (or Neo zouk) is a highly diverse group that sums up the latest variants of Brazilian zouk. This includes styles influenced by hiphop, street dance, belly dancing, contemporary dance, modern dance and salsa, among others. The timing is based on slow-quick-quick rhythm or contratempo. There can be long breaks in the footwork, with dancers staying on the spot, using only body movements, torsions and counterbalance to paint a picture of the music.

In addition and within these three styles many professional zouk dancers have created and named their own derivations of zouk, such as Flow zouk, Mzouk, Soul zouk and Vero zouk. Some of those styles that are newer among zouk can be considered to belong to the Modern zouk category, some could be considered yet another category of their own - there is a constant discussion on how and if zouk should be categorized. The basic idea though is that all styles follow the same fundamental concepts that are shared throughout Brazilian zouk. It is surely the desire of all us zouk dancers to be able to dance with one another irrespective of the ‘label’ of zouk one may fall under.

So far zouk hasn't been discovered by the large masses and is growing mostly by word of mouth, almost entirely ignored by the media. This has created a rather unique scene that is warm and friendly, welcoming all newcomers. Many zoukers (zouk dancers) actively travel around the world to meet other dancers and to practice their skills - just like we at Zouk The World!

A sample set of Brazilian zouk videos



The word zouk, among other things, also refers to a style of music, originating from the French Antilles. 'Zouk' actually means ‘party’ or ‘festival’ in Antillean Creole. Still today dancers of Brazilian zouk use zouk music, which is not made only in the Caribbean but nowadays also around the world. In addition to zouk music - and ever increasingly, many other different types of music are played for dancing Brazilian zouk: kizomba and semba music, latin and oriental music, reggaeton, R'n'B, hiphop, dubstep, as well as all kinds of pop music. There are many active DJs remixing hit tracks and layering them with a zouk beat, catering to all tastes and styles of zouk danced around the globe. The variety of music makes Brazilian zouk dynamic and constantly evolving.


Read more about Brazilian zouk in the blog


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