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Brazilian Zouk is a couple dance descended from Lambada in Brazil. The name Brazilian Zouk is used to distinguish the dance from the Caribbean Zouk dance, which is historically related to, but very different from the Lambada. The three dominant lines of Brazilian Zouk are Traditional Zouk, LambaZouk, and Zouk with different styles. The Brazilian Zouk dances are among the most popular couple dances in Brazil, others being Forró, Lambada, Samba de gafieira and Salsa.
Traditional Zouk style was first developed in Ilha Dos Pescadores in Rio de Janeiro around the mid 90's when Lambada songs stopped being composed. It was developed and first taught by Adilio and Renata Peçanha in Brazil's most famous dance school for Brazilian couple dances of Jaime Arôxa. They danced to the slower music of the Caribbean Zouk, thus making it easier to learn and vary steps, moves, patterns and combinations. The characteristic steps that were created are the basic step going front and back (from Samba de Gafieira), the opening and lateral step (from Bolero), elastic and bonus (also called boomerang in Europe).
Since adding lots of new steps and changing the characteristics from Lambada, a new name was given to this dance, with was originally 'Zouk Love', later just called 'Zouk'. Today, the Brazilian Zouk has changed and thus, the name 'Traditional Zouk' has been given to the dance that was first taught by Adilio and Renata in the beginning of the 90's, which is now didactically used all over the world.
Unlike salsa, which is led with the hands, Brazilian zouk is led by more parts of the body. Sometimes, in a basic sideways movement, it is the hips that move first, followed by the rest of the body, and this is part of what makes the dance so sensual. However, in various moves the dance partners are also connected by eye contact, legs, arms, shoulders, head, etc.
When practicing zouk in dance classes, teachers generally warn women to be very careful with their backs and necks, as two of the most distinctive and commented-on movements are the cambré (arching backwards to a greater or lesser degree, sometimes even below the waist) and the specific 'hair movements' or ' head movements' for the woman. If not done properly this could lead to injury.
LambaZouk, also called the Porto Seguro-style, is often thought of as the evolution of original Lambada, although in its current iteration it has divulged far from original Lambada. This dance is characterized by high energy (energia) and feel good attitude (alegria). Although it is a fast and energetic dance, it flows smoothly and the moves are continuous and rhythmic, and dancers follow circular (and to a lesser extent slot-style) movements as they relate to each other. One way in which the present LambaZouk differs from the original Kaoma-like Lambada style, is that they have removed wiggling shoulder movements (also sometimes seen in Cuban-style salsa). Instead the shoulders are kept fixed while the hips move (swing) to create a sensual effect. A number of movements have been added to the modern version of this dance mainly created by Didi Santos of Brazil.
LambaZouk is characterized by the following movements:
- Head movements (Cabeça - head moves in the same direction as shoulder; Boneca - Head moves in the reverse direction as shoulder for half measure (1-2-3))
- (Hair) whip movement (Chicote)
- Back arch/dip (Cambre)
The original Porto Seguro style is also unique in the way steps are performed to music (in this sense it is closer to Lambada). Here, the steps are performed with equal emphasis (same amount of travel) on strong beat and the two beats that follow (including the pause after the strong beat). This is done specifically to facilitate musicality by matching sharp movements (Chicote and Cambre) with the strong beat. When danced this way dancers fluently incorporate sharp movements to accentuate strong beat without stopping the dance (pausing to catch up). Even though this timing is popular in LambaZouk it is by no means exclusive. Many LambaZouk dancers also dance by taking longer step (or turning the follower) on the dominant beat (like Traditional Zouk). It is also a common practice to switch between the two timings within the same song (by doing multiple contra-tempo turns for the follower). For comparison on timing, Traditional Zouk emphasizes strong beat by having dancers take a long step on the strong beat. In LambaZouk style (as explained earlier) a popular way is to step equally (length-wise) on strong beat and following two beats. This creates continuous movements.
LambaZouk is danced to rhythmic, up-tempo music (tempo is generally fast or medium, rarely slow), whereas Traditional Zouk is more suitable for slow tempo music (often with long pauses). Kizomba music is very popular in LambaZouk owing to its rhythm and pace. Because the music faster, and head movements are more sophisticated and done more often, dancing LambaZouk requires better technique and timing in order to perform head movements without injuries.
LambaZouk is mainly danced in Porto Seguro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Argentina, Spain, UK, Israel, the west coast of the US, Japan & recently also in Malaysia. LambaZouk is also evolving to include more modern movements. It is also not uncommon (lately) for dancers to switch fluently between these dancing styles during a single Zouk music song.
Zouk with different styles
As mentioned above, several new styles can nowadays be distinguished. The dance is changing and developing all the time, adding and changing techniques of dancing, leading and following, but keeping the frame and pattern of Brazilian Zouk. New musics are also part of this development, leading to various new movements and interpretation of the music. Some styles are mentioned here, which are danced now in many countries:
NeoZouk is a variation of zouk, that aims to show different trends in zouk. It was created by Mafie Zouker and Ruanita Santos in 2007. The dance is a partnered lead-follow dance with fluidity in the assignment of lead and follow roles throughout the course of a dance.
Related to NeoZouk, Arkkanjo influenced Rio's dance scene a lot with his style 'Flow Zouk'. As the style saying, the movement and leading are very fluent and flowing. There is a lot body contact and body movements in this style.
Soulzouk was developed in 2005 by China a teacher from Rio, Brazil. Soulzouk, (also called "zouk freestyle" by the inventor) differs according to China from Brazilian zouk in the way it connects with the music.
The Soulzouk dance style is, not only based on the pace, but also on the melody of the song. It can be danced to zouk music, but it is also taught to be danced with a variety of other musical genres, like rap or RnB, that don't have the zouk beat.
One version of Brazilian Zouk, called Mzouk was created in Palma (Spain), by fusion of the Traditional Zouk and the Lambada, and has also influences of the Spanish Rumba. The technique was created by Jefferson Costa of Oliveira (also known as Gêgê), Rio de Janeiro, who is resident in Mallorca since 1991. The term Mzouk was created there. Jefferson decided to experiment on 6 dancers. They studied the adequate way of the position of the body and established adequate exercises to in make Mzouk a safe dance. After seven years the six dancers became the teachers of the new dance Mzouk. Two of the professors are Daniel and Leticia Estévez López that since 1998 are carrying out the work of diffusing the Mzouk in different environments.
In the year 2000, Jefferson Costa along with his six teachers founded the Association Mzouk of Mallorca which was registered with the Government as a cultural association with the aim to spread Mzouk by means of contests, seminars, and congresses.
A style credited to Renato Veronezi from São Paulo, where many Brazilian zouk figures are used to dance to Hiphop and soul. His style influence many other dancers, mainly from São Paulo and became extremely popular all over the world.
List of Zouk dance congresses
- 2º Congresso Internacional de Zouk em Brasília on 17 February 2007
- 2nd International Lambada/Zouk Congress 2006 Barcelona
- 3rd Brazilian Dance Congress 2006 Amsterdam
- First International Zouk and Lambada Congress in Rio de Janeiro on 4 January 2008
- Lambaporto Dance Congress 2008 in Porto Seguro on 7 January 2008
- 3rd International Lambada/Zouk Congress 2006 Barcelona
- 4th International Lambada/Zouk Congress 2009 Barcelona 30th April - 3rd May
- Salsalegría Zouk Dance Festival
- 5th International Lambada/Zouk Congress 2010 Barcelona April
- 1st International Zouk congress Prague 2010 Prague, 28th-31st January
- II International Zouk and Lambada Congress in Rio de Janeiro 7th-10th January 2010
- 2nd Annual DC Bachata & International Dance Festival 2010 19th-22nd August 2010 National Harbor, MD
- Brazil Central Zouk Lambada Congress 2010 1-3 October 2010 Brisbane Australia
- The 1st Scandinavian International Lambada/Zouk-congress in Sweden, Uppsala 17-19th June 2011
- 1st Buenos Aires Zouk Congress 2011 8-11 September 2011 Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Brazil Central Zouk Lambada Congress 2011 30 September -2 October 2011 Brisbane Australia
- "1st International Zouk Congress in Austria"
- 2nd Asia Brazil Carnival in Hong Kong, 18 - 24th February 2012
- 1st Zouk SEA (South East Asia) Festival 2012, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia August
- 8th International Lambada/Zouk Congress 2013 Barcelona April
- 1st International USA Zouk Congress 2013 Los Angeles May
- 3rd Middle Eastern Zouk & Latin Festival Dubai
- 2nd Zouk SEA (South East Asia) Festival 2013, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 9 - 11 August
- Zurich Zouk Congress 30 May - 2 June
- 1st International Miami Zouk Festival 2014, Miami Beach, February 20 - 24
- 3rd Zouk SEA (South East Asia) Festival 2014, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 8 - 10 August
- Zurich Zouk Congress 29 May - 1 June
- Zurich Zouk Congress 15-17 May
- Casa do Zouk - Gold Coast Australia on the 24th to 26th July
- Canada Zouk Congress - Toronto 13-17 May
- RioZouk Asia in Hong Kong
- Zouk Lambada Perth
- New York City, Zouk Organization
- ZOUKNY~ classes, events, workshops and more
- SOULZOUK Radio, Remix, DJS, video and more
- Zouk party agenda (mainly Netherlands; now offline)
- Zouk Night Love - Neozouk remixes
- zouk school in los angeles
- Lambazouk congress in Barcelona, Spain
- Group of teachers in Barcelona, Spain
- All about Brazilian Zouk in Austria
- Zouk Lambada Uk offering teacher training
- Zouk teachers in Stockholm, Sweden
- Toronto Dance Zouk school in Toronto, Canada
- Zouk-lambada congress in Uppsala, Sweden
- Mazouka Dance Company in Toronto, Canada
- dZouk Productions in Toronto, Canada
- Toronto Zouk, Canada
- Zouk Lambada Israel by Liza Listvinsky, Tel-Aviv Israel
- Zouk Brazil by Leon Gordin, Tel-Aviv Israel
- Dance School of Brazilian and organizer of Zurich Zouk Congress, Zurich, Switzerland
- Salsalegría Zouk Dance School in Zurich, Switzerland
- ZOUKademia - Organizer of Zouk events in Zurich, Switzerland
- ZOUK Malmö , in Sweden ZOUK classes/workshops both in malmö and helsingborg - by David Kay
- Zouk Dancing in Dubai and Middle East
- Lambazouk Brazil by Bebé
- Tropical NY by Aochan in Tokyo, Japan
- K&L Dance by Kadu and Larissa, Australia
- Island Zouk Honolulu, Hawaii