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!