Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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

The right genes, starting at an early age, dedication, motivation, passion, 1000+ hours of practice, great teachers, natural talent, exceptional physique, unlimited amount of money... What is it that makes a person into a truly great dancer?

I have collected here some theories and tips from various articles & studies, plus some my own thoughts about the path to become an advanced dancer in social / partner dancing. If you're just starting to dance you may also look at my piece about how to become a zouk dancer for beginner dancers!

What is an advanced dancer? And how to become one?

Newsflash: there is no one way to become an advanced dancer. We all know it's very individual - some advance from a complete beginner in a couple years and for some, few people though, it (seems like) could be an unachievable goal. On the other hand for some dancing is just a way to pass time and meet people; advancing in it makes no difference. For a passionate beginner dancer becoming advanced though can be a matter a life and death. The advanced dancers are admired, envied and even feared... are they human at all? And how fast can I become one? Read more about the myths of advanced dancers by Rebecca Brightly.

Veronica Toumanova writes in her note about advanced tango dancers but her thoughts are equally valid in any partner dancing. She thinks that to become an advanced dancer takes a lot of work and dedication - practicing, taking classes and going out dancing. Advanced dancer is described as a person who is musical, has a good understanding of the dance vocabulary and technique, can improvise as well as knows how to improve him/herself. In addition to all that, an advanced dancer has a personal style. S/he doesn't need or wish to be a copy of another advanced dancer but finds a form of expression that is truly their own.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Helsinki Zouk Festival 2013 - a zouk event quite unlike others

Renata Peçanha & Jorge Peres, Leonardo & Becky Neves, Bruno Galhardo & Eglantine Oliveira, Mafie Zouker, Daniel & Leticia Estevez Lopez and the hosts, Freddy Marinho & Andressa Castelhano. They were the reason why people from all over the world flocked to dance at the Helsinki Zouk Festival last week!

Held now for the second time in mid November (though it was fifth festival held in Helsinki it was only the second international event), we had 2,5 days of workshops and 3 nights of parties in the center of Helsinki at the spacious venue, Gloria. The crowd was mostly from the Nordic & Baltic countries, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and some even as far as from Canada & New Zealand.


The festival's schedule was simple: there was only one intermediate track and one beginners track, like last year. This is a pretty good concept in my opinion - the artists are what the attendees come to see and this way you won't miss any one them.

On the main (intermediate) track each artist couple had one workshop on Saturday and one on Sunday; six couples means six workshops per day (from 1-8pm). On Friday night there were also three workshops, introductions to Neo Zouk (by Mafie & Marina), MZouk (by Daniel & the Finnish Mzouker Ossi Kimmelma) and Rio Style (Renata & Jorge, Freddy & Andressa and Leo & Becky). All in all workshops were pretty packed as is usual in congresses but it was easy enough to follow the teachers. The spacious & nicely lit main hall worked well and people were in a great mood.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zouk music - your guide to artists and playlists

Updated Nov 11 2014 with second playlist and new music links!

I often get questions about zouk music... Us dancers love to get new music as much as we can. Even though our music collections can already have hundreds or thousands of tracks we keep looking for something new & exciting. I'm a passionate consumer of zouk music myself and look up new music every week so I thought I would offer you my zouk playlist! See & subscribe to the Dance the World Youtube channel for more playlists!

These playlists have some of my favourite tracks from the past couple years, including all kinds of music that have a tempo & beat suitable for dancing Brazilian zouk. I tend to prefer upbeat music but you'll find ballads, melodic tunes and lounge music on the list. And if you like R'n'B, hiphop, dubstep or kizomba there's plenty of that too - all zoukable tracks of course.

Where else to find zouk music?

Like you may have noticed from my playlists above many pop artists have zoukable music: Rihanna, Jason Derulo, Usher, Ne-yo, Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis, Madonna, Michael Jackson,... But there are lots of artists creating zouk music and DJs producing zouk / zoukable remixes specifically for us dancers. Remember that these talented artists do a lot of work to cater our "small" dance communities so please support the artists and buy music from them! Below you'll find a fairly comprehensive list of good music sources to keep an eye on.