Thursday, September 17, 2015

We have moved! Welcome to our new site:!

Dance the World has moved! In May 2015 we launched our new & dramatically improved website Zouk The World, which you can find at

Since August 2015 and going forward, all new content will be published only on Zouk The World. We will keep the same positive spirit and the same focus: sharing information and sharing the love for dance and travel. The new site will focus a bit more on dance & Brazilian zouk, and with a more international mindset. We aim to make the site informative, easy to use, with a more eye-pleasing layout, more features and more fresh content - hopefully, the best dance & travel site there is!

Thank you to everyone who has visited and contributed to Dance the World! And hope you continue with us on our journey to Zouk The World!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Salsa vs. Zouk

You might remember from last year that I started a new chapter in my dance adventures: learning cross-body salsa. I spent the last four months of 2014 learning the salsa basics and ended the year feeling quite excited about my new dance skills. My spins were faster than ever, coordination and balance improved, following skills renewed and generally I feel superb. And utterly confused.

But I had no time to feel renewed or confused. Almost straight from my last salsa class I flew to Brazil for a month of zouking, all day and night. I quite literally had to zouk the salsa out of me and fast! It didn’t take long to sink back in my comfort zone - into the arms of the fantastic Brazilian zouk dancers. The month in Brazil was like a month in *sigh* heaven, to put it short. After coming back home from Brazil I dove further back into zouk. After the bliss of Brazil I didn’t really miss salsa all that much - the zouk tunes were calling to me like sirens luring sailors to shipwreck.

After a few months came the reality - I need more than smooth sailing at my comfort zone. I need to challenge myself. I started to look for new dance classes. And so I stumbled upon a marvelous message: “Looking for a follower for the intensive cross-body salsa training group” ...Hey, that’s me!

And so I signed up for an 'intensive' course of salsa. For the past weeks, couple months, I've been back in the deep water, or so it feels. After every session I literally collapsed onto the floor out of exhaustion - both physical and mental. It has been intensive indeed, so we definitely got what we asked for. I was lucky to sign up with a fantastic partner who has a good amount of skills and enthusiasm so while I felt confused and hesitant, he helped me to push myself forward. And the improvement in my dance has been dramatic to say the least. A lot of it I owe to the fantastic teachers IDNZ.

At the same time I started the salsa course, I also started to host zouk training sessions in my home town. The idea was to provide a free weekly training for any new or old zouk dancer, to spread the love & knowledge I have for zouk and introduce a new style, lambazouk. It has been fun to see people get excited about dancing and making new discoveries - it's definitely rewarding, much more than I could have imagined.

While I've been splitting my time with zouk and salsa the past couple months, I've had a great chance to do some comparisons with these two dances. This is something that's been on my mind for a long time. And now I can present you my results. So here goes, the epic duel - salsa vz. zouk!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A breath of fresh air - revisiting Alicante

Welcome to Alicante! On the Costa Blanca (the ‘white coast’), in the southeast corner of Spain lies this jet-set port, laid back beach town, urban metropolis and historic city. Know both as Alicante and Alacant, the city is home to some 350.000 people, plus another 450.000 people in its surrounding towns and hundreds of thousands of tourists and summer residents that flock to Alicante each year.

I had a chance to revisit Alicante a bit earlier this year. It had been a while… a looong while. I was picturing in my head a plain sandy beach and a 1990’s cookie-cutter beach resort but - to my pleasant surprise - found a lot more than that!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Your best social dancing experiences - Poll results

This is the start of the “Poll of the month” blog post series!

For a long time I've wanted to hear more of your thoughts so I when I opened this new website I also posted the first Poll of the month. And I was feeling quite brave right from the start - I set out on a quest to get dancers to share their best social dancing experiences. I asked you to tell where you had your best social dancing experience and what made this the best.

Those are some tough questions, I know. 'Social dancing experience' is not something you can quantify. It can be a fleeting moment on the dance floor - or a lasting memory. But even if it's a lasting memory, it's rarely something you write down, or compare with other experiences. Or do you ever make notes, such as, “I give this dance 76/100 points.” I hope not!

It felt like those were also pretty private questions - do you really want to share your very personal experiences, I wondered? And it did indeed feel like you were shy to give me your replies. But I was curious and undeterred: I wanted your stories. In this post I spill the beans. Here are your best replies and my best social dancing experiences!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Berg's Congress - Back in zouk paradise

Let's travel back in time for about six months. It was a dark & cold evening at the end of December when I was packing my bags, once again. I hate packing - somehow during the past years I've learned to hate it with a passion. But this night I didn't really mind: I was heading to Brazil, to Porto Seguro for the 2015 Berg's Congress.

Held during a 10 day-stretch around the New Year at the beautiful Praia Taperapuan on the coast of Bahia, is one of the most amazing zouk congresses in the world. Hundreds of zoukers, dancing under the Brazilian sun, the stars and the palm trees, enjoying fresh fruits, cold caipirinhas and the warm blue sea... No need to tempt me more, I was hooked!

This time it was the 6th Berg's Congress but it had also been 10 years since their first zouk event. So the organisers, Berg Dias and his team, had made sure this anniversary event was going to be big and beautiful. I had received an invitation from Berg to bring a group of my readers for a fun zouk holiday in Porto Seguro - and (spoiler alert!) boy did we succeed in that!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Braz Dos Santos: Dance is a massage to the spirit

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. You sit face to face with a true legend of your #1 passion in life and hear them open their heart and share their life story. That was me last month, sitting face to face with a certain tall and dark gentleman. And now I get to share this story with you: my interview with Braz Dos Santos.

In case you don’t know Braz yet, he is indeed a living legend of Brazilian zouk and probably one the reasons why we are dancing this dance still today. He started his dance career 28 years ago by winning a lambada competition on his first night on the dance floor. Leaving his perilous life as a fisherman he soon went on to be a dancer with the iconic Kaoma band. Still today he is dancing and teaching, and is probably as energetic & joyful as he was 28 year ago.

Braz Dos Santos: Dança é uma massagem no espírito

Click here to read this article in English!

É um momento unico. A sentar-se cara a cara com uma das lendas verdadeiras do seu paixão e ouvir quando ele abre o seu coração e conta a sua história. Isso foi eu no mês passado, falando com um cavalheiro alto e moreno muito genial. E agora eu posso compartilhar esta história com vocês: a minha entrevista com Braz Dos Santos!

No caso de você já não conhece Braz, ele é de fato uma lenda viva do zouk brasileiro e, provavelmente, em parte por causa dele nós estamos dançando esta dança ainda hoje. Ele começou sua carreira de dança há 28 anos e ele ganhou uma competição da lambada na sua primeira noite na pista da dança. Deixando sua vida perigosa como um pescador, ele logo se tornou um dançarino com uma banda icônica, Kaoma. Ainda hoje ele dança e ensina, e é provavelmente tão enérgico e alegre como ele era 28 anos atrás.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Get ready, here comes the new & improved International Zouk Day!

Need a reason to look forward to September? I'll give you one: International Zouk Day! On Saturday September 19th, for the fourth time, the world is uniting for zouk. Started in 2012 from a simple zouk flash mob organised by Alisson Rodrigues Sandi & Audrey Isauter in Perth, Australia, it quickly grew into an international phenomenon - International Zouk Flash Mob.

What is IZFM - From idea to  reality

An active group of organisers set out to make the International Zouk Flash Mob (IZFM) an annual event, uniting dancers in a global scale. And spreading the word about Brazilian zouk in the process! The idea was that everybody would dance the same choreography and song on the same day, in all corners of the world. Anybody could join a local group - or create one if there were none to begin with - no matter their skill level. Instructional videos were available online for everyone to learn the moves with their group or even just at home.

After months of preparation, on the set date, people would gather to a prominent place in their hometown and perform the flash mob. Videos of the flash mobs were filmed and distributed around the web for all of us to marvel. This resulted in amazing compilations (such as these videos from 2013 and 2014) where you could see the dancers’ undulating bodies moving to the same beat in front of the Eiffel tower, Times Square, Berlin Wall, Colosseum... I'm sure just the videos make every zouk dancers heart skip a beat!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Building bridges, not fences - 10 tips on how to grow your dance community

Brazilian zouk. A mix of emotions and memories run through my brain every time I think of those two words. Never in my life have I had such an intensive hobby. Among the zoukers I know this seems to be more the rule than an exception. I constantly hear from new dancers that "my life has completely changed since I started zouk". What is it about zouk that consumes the mind? I bet it's different for everyone - maybe part of it is the infectious zouk music that beats into our hearts; the telepathic connection you have with your dance partner; the intricate details that keeps you on your toes even after years of dancing, wanting to learn more; and perhaps the warm, welcoming dance community?.

Being so hooked into zouk, year after year, it makes me wonder: Why is it so hard to make the zouk scene grow? Why are many of the zouk communities quite small?

Yes, Brazilian zouk is still a rather new phenomenon among the wide spectrum of dance styles around the world. In the past couple years, the number of zouk dancers and big events have increased substantially and there are some major global zouk projects ongoing, such as the International Zouk Day. But none of these have so far brought zouk real international fame or a big boom in the number of zouk dancers.

There's no shame in being small. But in order for zouk to thrive we do need more people - the more the merrier! What can the zouk communities & the leaders in the community do to help it grow?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Battons, mohawks, high heels and feather boas - 2015 Helsinki Samba Carnaval

Who doesn't love big colorful costumes, smiling people, loud music and a little rain? No one! So here goes the 25th annual Helsinki Samba Carnaval!

It wasn't my first or my last samba carnival - you may have read my earlier post: Welcome to the Northernmost samba capital of the world!!? So I was back again, running along the hundreds of sambistas last Saturday - with a camera in hand, obviously.

The carnival started at 3pm on the dot at Helsinki's landmark filled Senate Square. The bells of the massive white cathedral rang to mark the start time for G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio samba school, which was the last year's winner and had the honor of leading the parade. An audience of tens of thousands of people had already more than an hour ago started to line up on the city streets to cheers and gawk at the stunning dancers. And it certainly was a visual overload!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What's hot (and what's not) on the 2015 zouk congress calendar

Us zoukers are a bit crazy about congresses, aren't we? There's big group of people who travel to a number of international events every year - some every month! So perhaps it's no surprise that one of the most popular pages on this site is the zouk congress calendar.

In this post I sum up the latest news on the zouk event scene and present some of the newcomers on the festival circuit. While 2015 is well underway, there are still many interesting events coming up. Most congresses from now until the end of the year are already confirmed - and some already for 2016. And yes, the 2016 calendar is coming up around August-September!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Floorcraft in practice - 14 tips for the dance floor (Part 2)

In Part 1 you could read Zouk The World's introduction to floorcraft!

Now let's get to work - here are 14 practical tips to improve your floorcraft! This includes some general dance floor etiquette and basic leading & following skills - all you need to make the dance floor safe and enjoyable for everybody.

Some of the tips towards the end of the list are categorised specifically for leaders and some for followers but all are important to know no matter whether you lead or follow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Social dancing floorcraft - dance floor survival basics (Part 1)

Imagine a big open space and your favorite song - you can already see yourself dancing across the floor, can’t you? I love a dance that covers the entire floor space, gliding from one end of the room to the other. But most times you go out dancing you don’t have a massive open space: you’re on a dance floor full of people.

The dance floor is open to everybody and no matter how crowded the floor is and no matter if you’re a beginner or a professional dancer, you have an equal share of the floor. So how can I get the best out of the space so that everybody on the dance floor can enjoy their moment? Well, I looked it up. Welcome to our “Floorcraft 101”!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DansaBrasil - celebrating 10 years of lambazoukin' Barcelona

It was a gorgeous sunny Thursday morning two weeks ago when I boarded a train in Alicante on the southwest coast of Spain. I was leaving my little Spanish spring holiday behind me and dragging a surprisingly heavy trolley bag. The air was still cool and people were going about their usual daily routines but I had a certain special smile on my face: I was on my way for some all-day-all-night zouking in Barcelona at the DansaBrasil 2015!

DansaBrasil congress, also known as Congresso Internacional de Lambada/Zouk en Barcelona, had been long on my list of "must-visit events". Being already at its 10th edition (!!) it's quite a historic event in the zouk scene and for many European so called old school zoukers it has been their first zouk congress. Though on this particular jam-packed weekend there were a lot of options for us zouk dancers; while many of us enjoyed bank holidays on Friday 1st of May, the congress organisers around the world also wanted to bank on this. Events in addition to DansaBrasil that same weekend were the Prague Zouk Marathon, L.A. Zouk Congress and the Zouk Fusion congress in São Paulo.

But my (harder than ever) choice was made - I was not going to miss the 10th anniversary of DansaBrasil!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Larissa Thayane - "Foundations are the key" (interview Part 2)

I sat down with Larissa Thayane recently to talk about her historical zouk project, the Brazialian Zouk Dance Council - read more about this in the previous post.

While I had a chance to talk to Larissa, I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to hear from her what is that drove her to zouk and what drives her today. And I gave her a chance to share her advice to all us zoukers on what she feels are the most important things while learning zouk!

Zouk The World: Tell us a bit about your zouk history - how did you get involved with zouk in the first place?

Larissa Thayane: I’ve only danced zouk 10-11 years now. Before I started with ballet, jazz, contemporary, and that’s what I did my whole childhood and as a profession. When I moved to Rio de Janeiro, where I started working with a ballet/contemporary company, I started to do salsa because I just wanted to do something for fun. So latin dance was my hobby! That’s how I met different dancers and learnt samba de gafieira, bolero, forró - and saw zouk for the first time. Initially, it didn’t get my attention.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Larissa Thayane and the Brazilian Zouk Dance Council - "We want to improve the social dance skills of every dancer" (Interview Part 1)

If you're active in the zouk scene you've probably come across with the newly formed Brazilian Zouk Dance Council. Zouk The World met with one of the founders of the Council and a definite zouk all star Larissa Thayane recently in Helsinki and talked with her about the council, how she discovered zouk in the first place and what inspires her today.

But first, what is Brazilian Zouk Dance Council (BZDC)? On their site it says that the Council supports and promotes all aspects of Brazilian zouk and encourages the growth of the dance internationally. One of their key initiatives are the zouk Jack & Jill competitions to be hosted around the world adjacent to established zouk congresses. The BZDC also keeps a list of registered events, records of competitors and their scores as well as a registry of instructors. Let's talk to Larissa to find out more!

Brazilian Zouk Dance Council - Your fact sheet

Here are all the facts you need to know about BZDC and the zouk Jack & Jill competitions!

BZDC Basic Information

What is Brazilian Zouk Dance Council?

“BZDC serves, supports and promotes all aspects of Brazilian Zouk and encourages the growth of the dance throughout the world. The council is designed to improve communications and provide information services and record keeping for the Brazilian zouk community. The council maintains a global website with a competitor registry showing points accumulated in zouk Jack & Jill competitions and an Instructors registry with a listing of dance instructors that are members of the BZDC in good standing.” More about BZDC at

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stay tuned...

In case you've noticed I've been quiet for the past month there's a good reason:
I've been busy creating something NEW & EXCITING!
Stay tuned for the big launch on 5th of May!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

11 things I wish I knew when I started dancing zouk

Just a short while ago I was celebrating my four-year zoukiversary! (Yes, that means it's been four years since I started dancing Brazilian zouk.) Time flies by and a lot has happened during those years, such as traveling around the world by myself as well as basically redefining myself.. no biggie! :D Never did I imagine that such a thing as Brazilian zouk would just take my life by the balls and completely sweep me off my feet. It's been a fun ride!

Reminiscing the years passed by, it's fun(ny) to read old blog post and watch the old dance videos - that is some scary stuff! But all part of one awesome journey. This lead me to think what would I do differently if I had the chance? Nothing really, I guess. But there are indeed some things I wish I knew when I started dancing zouk. Some of these are things that people did keep telling me - but at that time I didn't really sink in. Here's what I would tell to my fellow beginner zoukeiros and zoukeiras that are in the beginning of their dance journey!

Friday, February 20, 2015

How to dance like a Carioca? The latest on zouk in Rio!

If you like dancing here you'll fit right in. Brazil.

Brazilians love to dance and - as it seems to the viewer - they are also extremely good at it. Some of the most famous exports of Brazil, you might say, are in fact a number of dance styles, musicians and dancers. Perhaps the most well known dance and music of Brazil is samba. There are many styles of samba danced both in Brazil and around the world but what a person typically goes to see in Brazil is samba no pé, a type of samba you'll see in the carnival parades. And just a few days ago millions (I'd be safe to guess) travel to Brazil, and in particular to Rio de Janeiro, to see just that.

Dance dance dance! A passista at carnaval, guy dancing on the street in Floripa and Berg & Bella at Berg's Congress 2013.

But....... 'Brazilian dance' cannot be summed up in just samba no pé and samba carnivals. While Rio de Janeiro is the place to be for a sambista, you'll be sure to find a great number of dance schools of all sorts, dance events for all tastes and - one my favourite things - exceptional & deliciously colorful dance clothes. Whether you're a Carioca dancer or a dance tourist like myself, you'll be like a kid in a candy store in Rio.

And yes: you'll most certainly find Brazilian zouk in Rio! Though São Paulo may hold the crown in the sheer volume of zouk dancers, dance schools and clubs (and as with anything, in the true spirit of the everlasting Rio de Janeiro vs. São Paulo rivalry, a Carioca may try to question that statement), Rio de Janeiro is the #1 destination for any self respecting Rio style / zouk tradicional dancer, to say the least. It's also the home of many great zouk teachers that are known around the world, such as Renata Peçanha and Jorge Peres, Lidio Freitas and Monique Marculano, Mafie Zouker, China, Val Clemente and Thayná Trovick, Paloma Alves,..... The list goes on and spans a few 'zouk generations' already, not to even mention all the top artists that have spread their wings and are spreading their zouk knowledge now elsewhere in the world.

Renata and Jorge, the icons of zouk in Rio de Janeiro! Captured at 2014 Helsinki Zouk Festival.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Back in Cidade Maravilhosa... Rio de Janeiro vol.3

Just a few weeks ago I was back in Brazil, aaaagain! And once again I found myself in Rio de Janeiro, the enchanting raw diamond of Brazil.... it seems I simply cannot avoid it even if I try (haha!). Actually my plan was to start this Brazil trip in some small idyllic beach town. But it turned out that our dartboard of a travel plan pointed our way to Rio!

The 'idyllic small beach town'.... Rio! Ipanema beach at sunset.

This was my third time in 'Cidade Maravilhosa', the marvelous city of Rio, and this time I'd booked us in for three days. Remember my last trip: 24 hours in Rio? Or my first one with a bit more of the tasty Carioca life - oh that was the life. Three days wasn't too much for Rio, but enough to kick-start another fun Brazil adventure :) It was the day after the Christmas holidays when my friend and I landed in Rio. We smoothly arrived to our cute small hotel right in the heart of Copacabana. It was late afternoon and the temperature was well over 30C... our bodies must have had a bit of the heat shock! We couldn't wait to head out for cold drinks and what better place to do that than right on the beach. Oh the sweet Brazilian life!

Luckily we had a good 9 hours of sleep while crossing the Atlantic the night before as the plan for the evening was to go dancing... obviously, zouk! We met up with the rest of our group of fearless Finns that were staying just a block or so away. In no time at all we were on our way to the famous Renata Pecanha's dance school where the party was held that night, ready to burn the floor! More about that and zouk in Rio in the next post!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Brazil 2015 zouk playlist

Soon in the blog: all about my trip to Brazil last month: Rio de Janeiro, Porto Seguro & Berg's Congress 2015, Itacaré, Salvador and São Paulo!

But before that: latest & hottest zouk tracks in Brazil right now! Below are the most memorable and most played songs from 2015 Berg's Congress and São Paulo dance floors during this January - featuring lots of great new zouk, kizomba and other zoukable tracks, as well as some classics you'll hear at the clubs in Brazil right now.

A ready playlist for you? Of course! I collected all the songs I could find on this Youtube playlist!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Zouk Spring Season in Helsinki - 2015

I'm sure you guys have been waiting for this.... 2015 spring zouk season in Helsinki! Sorry for the delay in the blog caused by my Brazil trip (though honestly I'm not really all that sorry about it, hehe)!

As usual, note that the dates may be subject to change and more classes & parties are sure to appear - always check with the respective organisers for their latest schedule.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Traveling dancer's vocabulary: English - Finnish

Alla suomeksi!

Happy New Year everybody! I thought I'd start the year off with something fun.....! Hehe. Some weeks ago I published the English - Portuguese dance vocabulary, to help my fellow traveling dancers. Now why not continue this, with another set of "dance & survival" words and phrases: English - Finnish! Now you can impress your Finnish dance friends ;)

English words & phrases are written on red, and on their right the Finnish words & phrases on blue.

Muutama viikko sitten julkaisin ensimmäisen tanssisanaston, englanti - portugali, matkalevien tanssijoiden avuksi. Nyt sanastosarja jatkuu; vuorossa englanti - suomi! On hyödyllistä osata muutama sana tai lause maailmalla tanssiessaan - toivon mukaan tästä on sinulle apua! Ja: Hyvää uutta vuotta kaikille!

Englanninkieliset sanat ja lauseet on kirjoitettu punaisella, ja näiden oikealla puolella suomenkieliset vastineet.