Thursday, May 8, 2014

Styling for the whole body (and mind): Part 2 of zouk ladies' styling tips

This a follow up to the part 1 of zouk ladies' styling. There I looked into various parts of the body and how to best style them. Here I attempt to summarise the key ideas in styling - "styling for the whole body (and mind)".

If you have ladies' styling tips of your own please share to them to us here, or on DTW Facebook page! I'm always interested to hear about ways to become a better (and a better looking) dancer :) 

<< Missed Part 1? Go to previous post

Zouk styling summary

Less is more

After all the styling tips, there's one that I don't want you to forget: Less is more. It looks messy if you do all kinds of styling at the same time; run one hand by your side, the other around your head, the hip is turning, head going around.... And you look more like "I'm itchy" than "I'm sensual". A better way is to do the styling moves separately - you can even connect them: Turn the hip. Then place your hand(s) at your hip and run it (them) up your side, then around the head. Leave the hand(s) gracefully on one shoulder or open downwards and then roll the head around (relax the neck).

Natural lines

To look more graceful it's a good idea in general to think about what lines your body, arms and legs create in all kinds of moves! For example, create a continuous line from the toe right up to the tip your opposite hands fingers when you open.

Another thing about lines and making the dance more beautiful, as well as keeping your joints in one piece; Think about the direction of your movement - sometimes it's easy to move too much. For example, when you open from lateral to the side (e.g. before bonus/boomerang) in some styles you will still face your partner, in others you open to the line of the movement and face 90 degrees from your partner - but not more! Do not open so that your hand (that is connected to the leader) pulls your shoulder back or out!

Evelyn creates beautiful lines with her body, legs and arms.

Inner peace and timing

This a "state of mind" concept that helps me a lot with fast music and hectic parties. If I ever feel the music is too fast, I'm not keeping up, I pause in my head (not in my steps) and think: relax, there is no rush. This simple thought helps me to re-focus and adjust my movement to the timing.

How to adjust your feet to fast music? Easiest way is to simply to control the length of your step: slow pace = long steps, fast pace = short steps.

Keeping perfect timing helps you to follow better, makes the leader's job easier and hey, it also makes you look "sharp". It's quite easy to lose the timing or the beat sometimes so it's a good exercise every now and then take a moment to synchronize yourself to the beat; count the music (1-2-3 or slow-quick-quick) in your head. It's not only with fast music I do this; also when the music is very slow - not get ahead of myself.

Sensuality - and attitude!

Newsflash: zouk is sensual!! You're allowed to touch your own body and look sensual. Don't be afraid to display emotions (ok, no need to overact) or be timid. Babi Pacheco instructed me on my walk with a simple idea - have one word in my mind: "Attack!" When you are walking (doing the basic step or generally walking forward), don't just walk like you're going to the supermarket - do it with an attitude!

Larissa also knows how to show of her sassy attitude!

Styling and partner work

A key element in making zouk beautiful is not just how you dance but how you dance together with your partner. If you just do all kinds of tricks or run off on your own solo routine, leaving your partner stranded then it's not what I was going for here (and yes, this goes for you guys too!). How about testing the styling you've learned with a partner and seeing how the way you style the moves goes together with partner work? Anything that's too distracting you can then think about revising.

Your partner surely has his own opinion of how much styling may be allowed to "interfere" with leading... Most say "it's NOT ok if it interferes in any way" but I say: We are beautiful ladies and creative dancers. You can't contain our beauty or limit our creativity to zero - a little interference is OK, live with it! 

Berg and Bella both like to show their style in the their dance - and work together seamlessly.

Practice practice practice

Like in anything - practice makes perfect! Nobody ever learned to do the double spin in one hour (please don't tell me if you did!! :D). Take time to work your styling in front of the mirror by yourself as well as together with a leader and video tape it on occasion to see how it really looks.

Ladies' styling videos

To delve deeper into the styling, I created a playlist of zouk ladies styling demos. Review the concepts in the previous post, above and take ideas from these videos. For the best styling guidance and personal feedback turn to your zouk teacher!

Your ladies' styling tips?

What are the most important styling tips you've come across?
Who do you look up to in styling?
Have you worked on creating a personal style?

Tell me in the comments and interact on DTW Facebook page!


Zoukeiras, it's our time to shine! Part 1 of zouk ladies' styling tips

Practice makes perfect - myths & theories about becoming an advanced dancer

Getting a grip with musicality - the most vague and insightful part of dancing

How to improve your musicality - 6 exercises for dancers

All dance technique posts

P.s. Why ladies' styling? What's all the fuss about?

Whenever I'm looking at dance classes - especially when heading to a congress - the first thing I always look for are ladies' styling workshops! They are my favourite classes. There are many types of workshops I love and always include on my "congress menu": connection, leading and following, checking out new moves from a few favourite teachers. But why are the ladies' styling workshops my favourites you ask?

Personally I feel that too often - especially at congresses - the couples' workshops are in reality leaders' workshops. Most guys attending the workshops are preoccupied with copying the move rather than listening or trying to understanding it; and at the same time not even letting me listen or learn what I need to do. Also some teachers give much less than 50% of the attention in the class to the ladies. I want to learn too, not just to show up for workshops to be a prop for the leaders. I'm happy to say there seems to be a dramatic improvement in this respect over the past year or so.

Still, I love the ladies' styling classes! That's when I get to focus on my moves at my own pace and to absorb those ever so important tips on how to make my dance (and myself!) look more beautiful - more graceful, balanced, sharp, soft and sensual! 

1 comment:

  1. you looking very expert i like you work out
    thanks for share this fantastic blog
    nice to see you

    Ballet business | \A\Rachel Withers