Zouk, Lamba Zouk, Neo Zouk…all words that don’t give a specific meaning when you are new and have not danced Zouk for long. But as you do, and visit European Congresses, or find interesting Demos on Youtube, you start to wonder. We modern humans like to categorize everything, from birds to dance styles and sub-styles. Sometimes for practical reasons, others for commercial reasons – the latter especially when it comes to the music and dance industry. Here is an attempt to summarize the main varieties of Brazilian Zouk, and some characteristics of it.
I make my summary based in own observations, and on the (well documented) book by Daniel Estévez “Mzouk, my Little Big World”. I also recommend this book, not only for the Mzouk part but because Daniel and Leticia Esteves are- if not the longest active Zouk Dance couple in the world – at least one of them. They have been around since the Lambada era, throughout its development into other Zouk sub styles.
And as for “Zouk” as a musical style…well. It is a subject for a separate article. Here we go:
Carimbó: Ancient folk dance from Belém de Pará, on which later on the Lambada from the 1900s originated. Carimbó was danced to traditional instruments such as handmade drums. Was danced in long skirts, with bare feet and with circular movement with extended arms.
Lambada: Danced which originated from Carimbó to so-called “Lambada music”, which was in fashion during the ’90s, also known and danced in Europe. Lambada kept the circular pattern of Carimbó but was now danced with short skirts and holding each other. Circular and head movements were kept. As well as the extended arms movements, called “Boneca” (doll).
LambaZouk/Zouk Lambada/Porto Seguro Style: Lambada music disappeared from the market, and Antillean Zouk music was being used now, after the ’90s. Characteristics for this dance are hip movements, accentuated beats marked by a Cambré or head whip (Xicote), and circular traveling of the ladies – always to the right side of the leader. Also the shifting of accentuation on the basic step: the long step of the gentleman is on the 2, 4, 6, i.e. the even beats.
Traditional Zouk as derivated from Lambada in Rio: When dance schools in Rio began teaching Lambada, the adaptation for a dance academy environment was seen as necessary. Lambada got stylized movements, became rather linear than circular, and was influenced by other academy dances such as Bolero. It became also slower and accented the odd beats rather than the even ones with the long step of the basic (although shifting is always possible). One particular school to mention here is the school founded by Adilio Porto and Renata Pecanha, later to by run by Renata only, from which popular teachers such as Leo and Becky Neves, Freddy and Andressa, and many others come from. From here we recognize several fundamental steps such as “Viradinha”, “Elástico”, “Bonus”, “Bonus Invertido” and so on.
NeoZouk: As Mafie Zouker (one of the first DJ:s to remix popular music to specifically Zouk floors) began to experiment with Zouk Music, there was also experimentation on the dance itself. The music was often electronic, with unexpected changes and brakes, with a flowing melody upon it. And so was the dance too. Nowadays are Mafie Zouker’s classes focused on the creation of own moves, and experimenting with a set of patterns, rather than teaching conventional patterns.
Mzouk: The only Brazilian Zouk style that was developed outside Brazil. This sub style is from Mallorca and was developed by Maestre Gegê, and his students, Daniel and Leticia Estévez. Being a Capoeira Master, Gegê educated his students with discipline, awareness of the need for the human body to be strengthened in order to dance properly. This style has different basic steps than the others, and is rather “molecular”, rather than “step-based”. This means that you are given a set of short steps from which build your dance, your own “formula”. Both right and left sides and directions are trained and used equally, which is not always the case in the other sub-styles.
Soul Zouk: It is considered a Methodology, rather than a sub style. Developed in Rio de Janeiro by China Soul Zouk and Luciana Guinle. The most known teacher from this school – outside Europe: K-yo Victor. This school takes up the aspect of Biomechanics in the students, to perform movements with as little energy as possible, and as comfortable as possible. Soul Zoukers are very gentle leaders, and able to make followers perform movements, sometimes when they don’t think is possible.
Flow Zouk: Also took shape around a Zouk DJ and his musical production- Arkkanjo. He is known for launching Zouk artists such as Paulo Mac, Alvaro Costa or D’black. Arkkanjo was the first one to play R’n’B music at Zouk parties. From this influence, it got its energy and ….flow. It is an urban sub style, which took shape on the floor, rather than at an academy.
Like Soul Zoukers, Flow Zoukers are…incredibly smooth!!!!
by Zouk in Stockholm
References: Mzouk, mi pequeño gran mundo, 2013, Daniel Estévez. ISBN 978-84-616-1743-2