Let’s Party, Let’s Zouk

dreamstime_xxl_11471559smThe Caribbean islanders and Latinos are perhaps the biggest party people of the world. There is no surprise then that the world’s most popular social dances originate there; Salsa, Samba, Rumba and Bachata to name a few.
Zouk is the latest party-child of this part of the world. In French Creole, ‘to Zouk’ means to party; the dance and the music which share the name Zouk are originally products of the Caribbean. The dance is made popular by the Brazilians, who’ve lent it flavor from their party dances, the Lambada and Samba.

However, the Zouk is very much a global dance; so
much so if you were to trace its origins, you would find many interesting stories, only to be exceeded by the number of different styles that have evolved in the different parts of the world – from Africa to Spain and West Indies.

Zouk’s movement signature is smooth and continuous, and is usually generated and initiated by the dancers’ core. The connection, leading and following, between the partners goes beyond holding hands. The partners are in a close embrace, and most of the leads apart for turn patterns are communicated through the rotation of the hips. However, when danced with faster rhythms it is more common for partners to dance in an open hold.
The wave-like body rolls are initiated from the torso. The lady, very much the picture to the frame created by the man, produces many exciting ripples, sensual hair flicks, throw-backs and sways with her upper body. She continuously uses an accentuated Cuban hip motion and elongated legwork to add to the sensuality.

The body rolls and head flicks, which create hair swishing, must be practiced with care. A strong leader must support the lady, and she must have good body awareness in order to prevent injury.

In class, especially when you start to learn, you will learn your steps in an open hold not only to avoid trampling your partner, but also because the intimate hold may be intimidating when dancing with a new partner. If you’re at a club, and want to Zouk with someone new it is also advisable that you start the same way, until rapport and movement awareness are established.

The rhythms of the Zouk are of the kind that makes your body want to move. The original music is typical of the carnivals of the Caribbean, upbeat and cheerful with a sensual quality. The beat signature usually goes “a Boom chick-chick” or “Chick-Chick a Boom”. If you were to hit a club or a dance party, you will find that you can dance Zouk to many of today’s popular songs from genres such as hip-hop, Latin-pop and Reggaeton which share the same musical imprint.

dreamstime_xxl_22217105smThe tempo is not a limiting factor either; the faster LambaZouk suits up-tempo Latin music such as Kaoma’s original Lambada or fast pop tracks. Slower and sexier rhythms, say R&B, can be enjoyed with the more dramatic and sensual “ZoukLove” variety of the dance. If you heard of a dance called Kizomba, it is an African rendition of this slower Zouk.

For a beginner dancer, the Zouk is refreshingly different from other social dances. Perhaps it is because unlike the Cha-cha or Samba, the Zouk is a young phenomenon, and one that has become global within a few years of its inception.

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This is an article written by DanceRevolt’s Nipuna for the Sunday Observer Youth Magazine. The published article can be found here.

dancerevoltLet’s Party, Let’s Zouk

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