The 2018 Zouk Calendar is coming soon! So we ask:
What are your top 3 favorite things about international dance congresses?
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.
"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:
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.
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!
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?
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?
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.
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!
There are (quite) a few topics that split opinions among social dancers. One of them is who should ask for a dance - is it the man’s job, should women take charge in this, or does it even make any difference?
Last month I posed this question to you, hoping to get a lot of replies.
And reply you did! Thank you for taking part in this poll so actively!
The zouk dancers are quite a liberal and equal bunch. We prefer to dispense with the formalities - there’s no cabeceo like in Argentine tango or any rules of who can ask whom. But are we really completely liberal or do we want complete equality? The leader has more responsibility in the dance in many ways so should the leader also be responsible for asking the follower? Or on the other hand, as the follower should surrender to the lead, should the follower then make the decision of who she wants to follow? Like I was expecting, and could read from your comments, there’s not a 100% consensus on this.
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!