History of Zouk by Renata Peçanha – Brazilian Zouk Dance Council

We are going to talk a little bit about the history of Brazilian Zouk.

Where did this dance that we all love come from?  For those that don’t know, Brazilian Zouk evolved from a Brazilian dance called Lambada.
Lambada grew fast, it was a fever especially in Brazil, however at the beginning of the 90’s it started to lose its popularity.  While it was popular, Lambada was a dance that took over most night clubs in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro.  Night clubs played only Lambada. One day the DJ’s started to feel uncomfortable about all that success and decided to get together to deflate the music.

This initiative from the DJs contributed to Lambada’s fall.  Another important reason was the fact that it was a fast dance style, which made it harder for people of all ages to learn.  Dance classes that taught Lambada started with a Read More

Lead with the Body

In Brazilian Zouk, the leader’s body plays a great role in leading.

A lead that is done mostly with the body, as opposed to arms, is almost always far more comfortable and clear. Using the body to lead can also help the leader to dance himself, instead of just moving the follower around.

I do not lead with my arm.

He who leads with his arm has forgotten the face of his father.

I lead with my body.

– Part of the Leader’s Catechism, from Stephen King’s imaginary dance novel.

The body leads in at least three different ways: visually, through body contact, and as the source of a lead done with hand contact. Often, all of these play a role in leading the same movement.

Visual leading means the leader uses his own movement to indicate what the follower should do. This type of leading consists of intuitive Read More

A Love and Hate Affair

Head movements and cambrés; who doesn’t love them?

They’re one of the distinctive characteristics of Brazilian Zouk. Done well, they look very impressive and beautiful. They give us possibilities of expression, musicality and movement that other dances don’t have.

Well… I do love head movements and cambrés. I really do. But my feelings for them are conflicted; it’s one of those love and hate affairs. The problem is not with the movements themselves, but with the widespread abuse of them. By abuse, I mean people doing them badly. I mean people not Read More

Does Beauty Matter in Social Dance?

Why does the beauty of an extraordinary sunset, for example, affect us so deeply?

Beauty inspires us, by reminding us that the extraordinary is possible.

Everyone is beautiful in their own way, it just depends how you’re beautiful to other people.

Is there an universal common sense to what is beautiful?

Beauty is uncommon enough that it puts us in awe.

It brings us face-to-face, with something commensurate with our capacity for wonder.

It affirms that while life is far from perfect, it offers many nearly-perfect things.

How does beauty work when it comes to Social Dance?

Defining BEAUTY in this post as the way one looks…

Read More

What is the worst thing a Follower can do while dancing with you in a Social Dance Party or Lesson?

It’s common to hear some Leaders complaining about certain Followers in Social Dance!

It has many reasons, and it varies a lot, also the situations change according to each community.
Many times, the Leaders don’t know how to act when they find themselves in situations which the follower is somehow compromising the dance, weather it’s because the follower isn’t really connecting to him, isn’t trying to feel the leading (when the leading is being precisely made, of course) or is anticipating the moves, predicting what the leader wants and ends up taking a wrong decision. Nobody want to sound rude or superior and sometimes, even a gentle feedback can be misunderstood, although sometimes it may be necessary, in order to keep the dance safe! Leaders can also get hurt!

Have you ever had any of these thoughts crossing your mind?

– My goodness! She’s basically doing everything by herself!

– She’s been over styling the whole dance, I can’t build a sequence of movements cos I have to improvise the unexpected everytime!

– I would love to dance with that girl but she seems to be only interested in dancing with the teachers or pros.

– Why does she put head movements in every single turn? I’m afraid of trying some moves and accidentally hurt her.

– I’d love to explore move closed embraced movements but if at least a deodorant had been…

– It would be nice if she held her own body, I’m making a lot of effort to move her.

– Why does she try to correct me all the time during the class? she is as new as I am and we have the teacher to correct us!

Well, here comes your chance to speak up and  Read More

What is the worst thing a Leader can do while dancing with you in a Social Dance Party or Lesson?

#Question 2

The number os complains, among women as followers in Social Dance about certain Leaders, are a lot!

Most of the times, they don’t know how exactly would be a nice way to advise the Leaders about certain behaviors that are not really appreciated by the followers, without sounding rude or impolite, and also, in certain dance scenes where there is a lack of Leaders, the girls just simply don’t wanna take the risk of upsetting any of them, and as a result of being misunderstood, be avoided by them after that!

Have you ever had any of these thoughts crossing your mind?

– This is terrible but better not saying anything, I don’t wanna be the only annoying girl that complains, since all the others just smile when dancing with him!

– Am I the only person that can’t really understand him or everybody else is just fixing all his misleadings like I’m doing right now in order to be nice?

– Someday, someone should really tell him how uncomfortable he’s been doing those moves on us!

– I really do not enjoy dancing with this guy just because he dances for anybody else, but me! It’s kinda I’m being used by him so he can show off!

– Why he cannot have one single dance without trying to be chat me up or trying to kiss me?  

– It would be nice if I was invited for a dance, instead of being grabbed by the arm and dragged to the dance floor!

– It’s ok and expected to sweat but he could at least bring a spare shirt to change it sometimes before inviting us for a dance, it’s all wet!

– Why does he try to correct me all the time during the class? He is as new as I am and we have the teacher to correct us!!!

Well, here comes your chance to speak up and

Read More

What Does Define An Advanced Social Dancer?

#Question 1

There many explanations defining what an advanced social dancer is.
Some of them make sense, some others totally not!

– Is it the number of figures known?
– Is it how fast the movements can be executed?
– Is it how she can follow?
– Is it how he can lead?
– Is his/her musicality?
– Is it considered advanced One that has 1 year of experience in social dance parties?
– Is it considered advanced One that has taken 6 months or 1 year of regular 
– Is an experienced dancer the same as an advanced dancer?

In order to open a discussion and raise awareness about this subject, so all social dance communities can see what are Read More

Dance Etiquette – Tips For Social Dance

Those of us that have been in the social dance scene for a while know our basic social dance etiquette like we know the back of our hand.

For some though, dance etiquette doesn’t seem to come as easy, and those lacking these non verbal rules can come off as rude without even meaning to be.  These rules encompass almost all the social dances (Zouk, Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, etc).  Here’s a few simple rule and tips to help you understand the best way to approach the social dance floor.

1 – My personal number one rule, and pet peeve, is no critiquing on the dance floor!  We are all always learning, and it is very rude to critique, tell someone they are not doing something right, give funny faces, or try to correct them while social dancing.  Even when someone asks me personally to tell them if they do something wrong, I won’t do it because it’s distracting and I’m not in the business of breaking people’s spirits.

2 – Make sure your outfit is “social dancing” proof.  Are your earrings too heavy?  Do the buttons on your coat/shirt tangle in girl’s hair?  Is your skirt/dress too revealing when spinning?  Test it out before you head out to dance.

3 – Wash your hands!  Not just when you go to the restroom, but every once in awhile too.  Remember that in social dancing, you’re touching someone who has touched 10 other people, who those people have touched 10 other people, and so on.

Read More


Adapted from the text of Jason Haynes – Source: http://latindancecommunity.com/lifestyle-of-a-traveling-dance-instructor/


Individual to use their talents to serve and instruct the community at weekend dance events, and potentially improve the lives of those you encounter. Must be willing to travel to the four corners of the globe, meet lots of interesting people, and see incredible sights. Must not like routine and working in an office setting.

Oh…and you get paid to dance Brazilian Zouk, Salsa, Bachata, and/or Kizomba!

Sound good? Do you accept the position?

Well if you do then you’ve just signed up to be…(bongo beat)…a traveling latin dance instructor!

Aside from the incredibly exciting job description…what exactly does that entail?

Over the past few years I’ve spoken with and interviewed several instructors who literally spend every weekend on the road teaching dance in a location other than their home locale. Popular dancers with extensive travel schedules, among many others. As I became more involved in the “latin dance media” (so to speak), I began to wonder what their lives were really like. I discovered that although all instructors have different and unique experiences there do seem to be common lifestyle threads that create the pros and cons of…“The Lifestyle of A Traveling Dance Instructor”.

The Challenges:

long-distance-relationshipHard to maintain a relationship:  I’ve heard it numerous times, so I will start with the relationship aspect.  Being in a committed relationship or even starting one is hard for many traveling professionals, but particularly for dance instructors. First, your source of income is often dependent upon traveling to different events and usually in a different location every weekend.  Most (if not all) relationships need time to cultivate and develop a connection, and weekends for many couples are an opportunity to catch up on quality time.  Not for traveling dance instructors…that’s when it’s time to work. Weekend nights for them are spent at socials dancing, not going to movies or hanging out at home eating pizza and chillin’.  Promoters and organizers aren’t going to pay for significant others to travel (unless they’re the primary dance partner), so most weekends are spent away from their partners.

This leads to the second component…Temptation.

Let’s be honest. Our dance community is filled with lots of attractive and sexy Read More


Millions of people at this exact moment,

while you’re reading this, are training like crazy to have a chance under the spot light! To work and succeed in the dance industry is tough. It’s one of the most competitive professions out there. We have to give a hand to anyone that decides this as their path.

The flip side is that this world brings some of the most incredible joys and feelings of ecstasy that a human being could ever dream of. But what about when the pain outweighs the joy? As a dancer, when is it time to give it all up? To stop going to auditions or competitions, to stop living pay cheque to pay cheque, to stop training, to stop believing in the dream?
The thoughts and feelings go back and forth. One moment you are on top of the world when called for the part and the next moment you are filled with bitterness and hopelessness, picking up those extra shifts at work wondering when you will ever get that big break. The wavering feelings persist and the doubt sets in.

These struggles are real and yet if dancers were able to reframe their thought process, the journey may not be so difficult. The truth is that being a dancer is not something one gives up. It is who you are. It is something that is so deep and within you that even if you tried to stop, it would be impossible. The human need you have to express through dance is a gift and cannot ever be taken away. You never have to give it up because it’s a part of you. It’s breathing. To give it up would mean not to breathe.

The industry tricks you into believing that it’s the only world that matters. That’s the place where stars are made and it’s the only way to ‘make it’.

Suddenly outside validation becomes more important than fulfilling the deeper need to move and express. Dancers feel doomed if they don’t book that music video or that world tour after just a few years of trying and give up faster than they started.

Yet if dancers were to know that the very act of dancing is a journey within itself, a new light will shine and other opportunities begin to expand. There are so many other areas where dancers can thrive, feel fulfilled and contribute their gifts – from the world of heath & wellness, community development, education, science, psychology, and motivational speaking … the list is endless. There are an increasing amount of areas where the skills and expertise of dancers are needed and can be utilized to innovate and bring forth new ideas, new inventions, and new ways of doing things. Basically, these are other ways of ‘making it’.

This all boils down to a shift of thinking. The sooner dancers can come to the realization that dancing is a deeper human need, the sooner permission can be given to move freely, to enjoy the process, to detach from the end result, and to discover parts of themselves they didn’t know existed.

In our own experience as Dancers, while living in Brazil, we had to train really hard, everyday, focused on the goal, specially due to the fact that out there we had so many other talented dancers seeking for the same thing!
We had to make ourselves visible, and nothing better for that than having more and more quality in your dance! After a certain point, it will high light and draw the attention you need!

Living out of our home land for a few years already, we’ve been through several situations in which the feeling was nothing else but “let’s leave it and go back home”! We felt sad, lonely, weak but, the desire, the passion, the dance breathing coming from the deep within, put us back up and made us go through the walls that raised in front of us! Our dream was stronger and we did want to live our dream!

We’ll all face the walls, many times starting in our families, when many don’t believe you will make it happen! That you should get a real job! As if a dancer’s life was easy, just fun, but, Dancer is what you really are and your dream is the powerful fuel you have and it will take you there! How much do you believe in your dream? How strong is your faith?

“Giving up” then is no longer an option and what’s left is the essence of an unstoppable, moving and magnificent spirit.

Author: Janet L. Castillo