Friday, October 26, 2012

First own zouk choreo!

My dance partner and I had had an idea for a long time to make a little zouk show, practically ever since we started. We thought it would be fun to challenge ourselves and show mainly our non-dancing friends what zouk is about.

Since I was away for over 6 months we kept postponing this but when I returned home we started to talk about it again. It seemed to be impossible to get a good idea, or a theme for the show - or enough time to practice. But then some of our friends invited us to do a show which gave us a deadline to come up with something. Finally we had only three weeks to create this "something"! So we picked a song and thought we can just wing it.. But the music inspired us and what started with "let's just freestyle some zouk to some Finnish music" turned into a nice simple choreography!

In the choreo we aimed to use as many of the basic zouk moves as possible since after all the idea was to show non-zoukers and even non-dancers what zouk is. We also wanted to incorporate some fun moves I learned on various workshops and parties during my round-the-world trip!

#1 - A casual pre-premier

It was one very late and very cold summer Friday night - or early Saturday morning - on an island on the Finnish archipelago this August when we premiered our first zouk choreography. We'd already had couple drinks while we waited people to arrive, did a BBQ meal, went to the sauna, sat in the hot tub.... But when all the people were finally gathered at 3 am I quickly changed and we hopped on the stage:

The time, the limited space and the terrace floor were less than ideal for making the show happen like we had planned it. But the mood and the view to the quiet sea that opened right behind us was perfect!

#2 - First party performance

So we were invited to do our zouk show for the second time in another party that very same weekend... This time we had a proper floor and more space! And we were a little bit more awake. Again we had it taped but forgot to change the camera settings so the resolution is a bit low in the video. But the show went great and it's always so nice when people come tell us how they were moved by our dance.

After the shows I got an idea about making a "bloopers" compilation of the best (worst) scenes that I found from my files filmed during the three weeks we spent creating and training the piece.. Enjoy!

#3 - Showtime @ the FinZouk anniversary party

Later this fall we were asked to perform the same show as a surprise number in our FinZouk community's 2 year anniversary party. About three weeks before the show we started to practice this piece again and decided to add a little twist to the surprise: make yet another choreography!

To make it more challenging we had lots of other things to work on, such as learning another zouk choreography for the student performance team - and we had to keep hiding our own choreo's training sessions to keep the surprise element for the FinZouk party show! Our time was limited and I quickly remixed a song we had been testing earlier. We had a whole bunch of lamba-zouk ideas and moves that we could now put in use in this new piece! We first decided we wouldn't use any tricks or lifts in the second part, thinking we wouldn't have time to learn new ones, but suddenly we noticed the routine had three of them!!

I also put together costumes (that was a funny project on its own...) and we added an extra wardrobe change into the routine's beginning so that as few people as possible would know about the surprise show until the music went on.

Here is the video from that night:

It was so exciting to perform in front of all our dancing friends! I was delighted to hear all the lovely comments after the show about how moved people were, how they enjoyed our expressions, musicality and the couple of tricks we added - and I was particularly happy we managed to surprise them! When I see the video I see all the mistakes but I also see how far we've come since we started dancing 1,5 years ago :)


Thanks to my fantastic dance partner for the all the hard work, support and enthusiasm he put in creating and performing our first ever, very own zouk show - I'm lucky I have partner like him I can completely depend on :) Thanks to all our generous hosts who invited us to dance for them and made us feel so welcome and also filmed the shows! And thanks to the audiences for making us feel like champs!!

The music

We specifically wanted to use original Finnish music in our first choreography for a couple reasons: 1. it hasn't been done before (as far as we know) and 2. we are bombarded with the pop/R&B zouk remixes & the typical Brazilian zouk songs and it's hard to pick one that doesn't grow old fast in the zouk scenes. But most importantly we wanted to show how versatile zouk dance is by using music most people in Finland would know. I know the Finnish zoukers appreciate that we used Finnish music - and it was part of the challenge!

The first song we picked, "Toinen", is by a well-known Finnish singer Jenni Vartiainen and talks about cheating. I upped the tempo of the track just a little to make it suit our dance pace a bit better. But for the rest it was a perfect fit to zouk with a nice melody, beats & breaks and typically Finnish, melancholic lyrics with a sensual undertone like many zouk songs have. In the third show I cut the song a bit to make room for the second part.

The second song is "Hellä Ori" by a Finnish reggae artist Lord Est, featuring a Finnish femaler rapper Mariska. I used the MMEN remix of the song which I cut & mixed for the third show. This is more of a humorous piece, talking about girls looking for hot men to have fun with - a nice contrast to the first part!

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