Sensual. Passionate. Fluid. Similar to Argentine Tango, the soul of zouk dancing lies in the connection. Zouk is the dance of the twenty-first century.
The word ‘zouk’ comes from the Creole word meaning ‘party’ or ‘festival.’ Brazilian Zouk, or Zouk- Lambada, is an intimate partner dance which originated in Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Zouk is the descendent of the Lambada, which began to evolve when zouk music came to Brazil from the Carribbean in the 1980s.
Zouk is all about passion and connection. The two most popular forms of zouk are the original Caribbean form and the Brazilian form. The Brazilian style is a three-step, ‘tum-chick-chick.’ This style incorporates many steps and turns with a wide variety of hand combinations, whereas the choreography of the Caribbean style is simpler.
Zouk classes are only offered in Tennessee, Washington D.C., New York, Florida, California and Massachusetts. Knoxville’s evoZouk, a dance company founded by Ian Orr and Kendra Haynes, is home to one of the largest zouk scenes in the United States. Jen Dickens and her partner, Will Carlisle, teach Brazilian Zouk classes every Thursday night at The Warehouse dance studio in Murfreesboro.
“I knew zouk was perfect for me from the minute I saw it,” Dickens said. “We are very excited about helping the Tennessee zouk scene grow, as it is already the second largest in the United States.”
Why not get started zouking now? Zouk is growing at a rapid pace. Today’s zouk dancers are on the cutting edge of dance history given its young age and the fact that the majority of Americans are unaware of this exotic dance. Zouk combines explosive motions, beautiful lines, breathtaking bends, seductive hair flips and body rolls.
Zouk will open you to a new side of yourself.
An intensely strong connection is what gives the dance its fluid quality. Zouk is one continuous motion, creating the illusion of two people dancing as one person. When danced correctly, zouk is seamless without pauses – just an alteration in tempo in accordance with the hypnotic beat.
Commonly compared to tango or salsa because of its Latin influence, zouk is still very much in its own category. Dancers’ bodies are literally joined at the pelvis when zouking and body movements originate from the hips. Zouk dancers move with an intense, trance-like connection involving the hips, torso, arms, head, heart, and soul.
Words cannot express the sensuality of zouk. Ultimately, zouk is not about the audience, but about the dancers and music. One must experience the passion and beauty of zouk to fully understand the depth and power of this dance.
Zouk allows dancers the freedom to use every part of the body to fully connect to the music.
“It is the most flexible partner dance that I have done because you are not bound by a vertical axis. It adds another dimension to partner dancing,” Dickens said. “You are free to move your body in as many ways as you can imagine. Your neck can be loose instead of being stiff the whole time.”
Boosting self-confidence and relieving stress are therapeutic benefits from zouking. Zouk allows you to be in the moment, completely relaxed while building flexibility and core strength. Some dancers view zouk as a moving meditation.
“It’s nice because zouk is more than just physical. It’s emotional,” Dickens said. “It’s a complete release for your body. It’s a very freeing, spiritual experience.”
The basic rhythm gives zouk dancers a great deal of freedom and flexibility to play and experiment. Many dances are limited to a particular style of music – zouk is an exception. The zouk rhythm is not uncommon and can be found in R&B, Reggaeton, Hip-Hop and Pop music.
Soulzouk, or zouk freestyle, is a more contemporary style of Brazilian Zouk that can be danced with R&B and Hip-Hop music in addition to zouk music. Soulzouk is danced with slow, flowing movements with a strong focus on connection. Contact improvisation is also emphasized in Soulzouk.
EvoZouk in Knoxville hosts ‘Mirage,’ an all-night zouk party held once a month. The next party will be Saturday, Oct. 23 featuring the top zouk instructors in the United States. New York, Miami, Washington D.C. and Knoxville will be represented at this event.
Zouk invites you to explore your hidden, sexy self. Awaken and fall in love with your sensual side. For more information on zouk, visit: