I wrote my first teacher bio in 2013. The last line stated that I intended to learn zouk-lambada that year, but I only managed a total of four classes. In 2014 I updated it to say I was determined to learn to dance West Coast Swing and Lambazouk in the near future. I don’t think I did any of the latter. In 2015 I adjusted it to say I was studying Argentine tango, West Coast Swing, and Brazilian zouk intermittently. In fact I finally took some lambazouk workshops, a few private lessons in Rio style, and went to my first all-zouk social. In 2016 I took several more classes and private lessons, attended three festivals that featured Brazilian zouk, and decided to start a video record of my progress in Rio style.
Last autumn I decided to create a YouTube playlist and upload these videos to share with the dance community. I posted the first video in November and wrote:
“So often we are embarrassed by our inexpertise when we first start learning something. We apologize to everyone at the social dance. We never want anyone to record us on video.
“I understand those impulses – and have certainly behaved that way in the past – but I decided in Sept 2016 that I would start a YouTube playlist to share my journey as I learn Rio Zouk. My first class was at an AfroLatin festival in Antwerp back in 2013, but it was only in 2016 that I committed to investing time and money in learning this style.
“Most of us who social dance started off feeling awkward and uncertain. Even with the benefit of experience in several other social dances, learning Rio Zouk has been anything but natural for me. Still, I find it very energizing to be learning as a beginner, because every class I take gives me new revelations. Rather than hide my struggles, I invite you to watch me get better!”
You can check out the first three videos in my “Rachel Learns Zouk” series below, in chronological order. These are the result of my lessons with Peter Wright from Sydney, Australia.
While I still cringe to watch all the mistakes I make, I am glad to have these videos. They help me recognize what I need to work on, so I can improve that much faster. I am also encouraged to see my progress, and I enjoy remembering the fun of the challenge each new concept has presented to me.
Just a couple of nights ago, I had an opportunity to collaborate again with Rachel Meth of Embodied Dance in Durham, North Carolina. Our aim was to present kizomba and zouk to the Latin dance community in Asheville, NC, which has had little exposure to either style. I think the resulting demo is a perfect endcap to my dancing efforts in 2016.
In 2017, I resolve to continue working to improve my Brazilian zouk, not just as a follower but also a leader. I’ll be writing a few more posts about my exploration of zouk this year, so keep an eye out for those!
What do you think? How do kizomba and zouk dancing express the music in similar and different ways? Can these two dances share a floor? What are your dance-related resolution this year?
Thanks to Mic and Kimberly of Honolulu Zouk for this post’s featured image.