SONJA-MARIA IGNATIUS – HDC Team (Instructor & Performer)

Sonja has been teaching Brazilian Zouk regularly with her partner Jukka Välimaa at Helsinki Dance Central since 2015.

What fascinates Sonja the most in zouk is the connection with the partner and the huge range this dance allows for movements, expressions and interpretation of the music. Being a zouk fundamentals nerd, she continues to study deeply the techniques and foundations of Brazilian zouk. The dance technique is important, but equally important is to create a welcoming atmosphere in the classes and to find the joy in the dance!

Sonja has studied at weekly classes with Freddy and Andressa since they moved to Helsinki in 2012. She has been one of their most committed students attending regularly all their courses from fundamentals to advanced. She has been part of the Rio Zouk Style Team since its founding in 2013. Sonja has attended dozens of congresses, workshops and immersion courses in Europe and spent several months in Brazil, mainly in Rio de Janeiro. The teachers that have had the biggest contribution to her dance, besides Freddy and Andressa, are Val and Vanessa, Leo and Becky, China SoulZouk, and Renata and Jorge.

Sonja and Jukka participated in the Zouk Championships at the 5th and 6th International Rio Zouk Congress, being the first couple out of Brazil competing in the championships. Sonja has performed zouk choreographies since 2012 and has also choreographed own show pieces.


  • Zouk Bootcamp in Stockholm 2020
  • Zouk Intensive Workshop in Joensuu, Finland 2020
  • Zouk Bootcamps in Tartu and in Tallinn 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Helsinki Zouk Festival and Winter Zouk Festival 2012 – 2019
  • Zouk Immersion Program by Freddy and Andressa 2019
  • International Rio Zouk Congress, Brazilian Zouk Competitions 2016 and 2018
  • Zouk Intensive Workshops in Turku, Finland 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Zouk Workshops in Aalborg (two times 2017)
  • Show of the Year Finland competition 2017
  • Zouk New Year’s Eve in Erfurt 2016
  • Navy Zouk 2016 in Gdynia
  • Mega Zouk Weekend in Vienna 2015
  • Finland’s International Kizomba Festival 2015
  • 5th Prague International Zouk Congress 2014
  • Fresca Latin Dance Championships in Helsinki 2012 (Zouk Competition 1st place)


Sonja fell in love with dancing in a small dance school in Hyvinkää thanks to the soulful jazz and contemporary pieces of her teacher. Sonja used to study music and was a talented accordionist, but dancing took over in high school. Nowadays Sonja uses her musical background in teaching and dancing, and still plays and sings occasionally. Besides zouk, Sonja’s dance experience consists of contemporary dance, jazz and ballet.

Sonja holds a Master of Science degree in Water and Environmental Engineering and she is also a Certified Professional Facilitator. Her other passions besides dancing are nature, e-biking and finding ways to save the world.

Brazilian Zouk Demo by Sonja & Jukka.