An Introduction to Brazilian Zouk History

Main Sources: Gui Prada, Alisson Sandi
Summary by Glenn Sloat
Translation by Mandy Wang (中文翻譯在下方)

*I am not Brazilian, I didn’t live through this time, and I am not an expert* This article is a short summary of my notes from the excellent course on Brazilian Zouk dance history from Gui Prada and Alisson Sandi at District Zouk. If you want to know about this in much more detail, I recommend getting their course at the District Zouk website – http://www.districtzouk.com/

Brazilian Zouk is a relatively young partner dance from the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Although the dance is often referred to just as “Zouk”, it should be called Brazilian Zouk to differentiate it from Zouk, which is the name of the music and dance from Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Brazilian Zouk evolved from an earlier Brazilian dance called lambada, which itself evolved mainly from older dances Maxixe (from African slaves in Rio de Janeiro) and Carimbo (from indigenous culture in the north of Brazil, influenced by Portuguese culture and African slaves).  Maxixe and Carimbo made their way to Bahia, a northeast region of Brazil, where they evolved into a new partner dance which was eventually called lambada.  It was very popular in Bahia, and when dancers from  Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo found out about it, some of them, like Jaime Aroxa, went to learn it and then brought it back to their cities.  Lambada was popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and for a while it seemed the whole country was crazy about it with music playing all the time everywhere, huge competitions, and tons of dance clubs, but it became too popular and then crashed. Clubs stopped playing lambada music, musicians stopped making it, and people mostly stopped dancing lambada.

In the early 2000’s, Renata Peçanha and Adilio Porto worked in Jaime Aroxa’s studio in Rio de Janeiro to adapt lambada to zouk, a music style from the French Caribbean islands Guadeloupe and Martinique. In fact, many people had already sometimes danced lambada to zouk music, so it was a natural change. This music style was slower and more relaxed, and while they used lambada as a base, they also mixed in elements from other dances like salsa and tango. Renata & Adilio created the fundamental steps of zouk and later started their own studio. Alex de Carvalho was also a part of Jaime Aroxa’s studio and later went out on his own to start the Centro de Dança Alex de Carvalho.  Many of the most influential zouk dancers and teachers were first taught in Renata’s Núcleo de Dança or Centro de Dança Alex de Carvalho.

The areas in Brazil where Brazilian Zouk is most active are Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Eventually, zouk dancers moved around the world and began to develop scenes in different countries. The dance is less well-known than salsa and bachata, but it has been getting bigger over the years, with more and more international events (pre-pandemic). Brazilian zouk is still popular in Brazil, but as of this writing (September 2020), pre-pandemic, the biggest zouk scenes are probably in Europe, with the US next.  Asia’s first zouk congress was in 2010 (Zouk SEA), and the scene is growing.  There are zouk communities in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and China.

Brazilian zouk is danced to many types of music besides Caribbean zouk nowadays, including kizomba, RnB, reggaeton, pop, and many, many more.  The ability to dance to so many different kinds of music makes it possible for people with different musical tastes to enjoy Brazilian zouk, and as dance often evolves with music, various styles within the umbrella of Brazilian zouk have emerged. Today we have Rio Zouk (Traditional), Neo Zouk, Soul Zouk, Lambazouk and others.

Our studio, TLDA (Taiwan  Latin Dance Academy) is located in Taipei, Taiwan, where we and other teachers/studios as well as DJs and organizers are very active in growing the zouk scene.  Contact us if you are in the Taipei area and are interested in learning Brazilian Zouk!

巴西Zouk是2000年初期新興的雙人舞,相較於其他社交舞(如:Salsa, Bachata)是一種非常新的舞蹈,雖然我們多稱之為Zouk, 但完整的說法應該為巴西Zouk,在早期Zouk其實是一種曾風行於法屬安德列斯群島(主要為瓜德羅普和馬提尼克島)的熱帶島嶼流行音樂,並不是巴西的舞蹈,強調 “巴西”Zouk就是為了和原本的熱帶島嶼Zouk音樂做區格

巴西Zouk的發展是從黏巴達沿革的, 黏巴達是融合了Maxixe和Carimbo(巴西在葡萄牙殖民時期和當時大量引進非洲黑奴的環境下,文化融合產生的舞蹈),當時在巴西北部的巴伊亞州造成流行,甚至有很多來自里約熱內盧和聖保羅的舞者紛紛跑去朝聖學習並帶回自己的城市推廣,而Jaime Aroxa (Zouk創始者)即是其中之一位,於是很快地黏巴達在80-90年代風霏整個巴西形成一股風潮,很多音樂家與DJ們將其電子化,加入了很多舞廳版本,於是各大舞廳都在放這類音樂,還舉辦很多比賽,但因為流行地太快,但熱潮也很快褪去,暴起暴落,所有的舞廳相繼推翻這類音樂,市面上不再貶售,大家也不再跳了

2000年初期, Renata Peçanha和Adilio Porto曾在Jaime Aroxa在里約的舞蹈教室工作,一起研究如何將黏巴達的舞蹈融入Zouk的音樂,但事實上,當時已有一些人用Zouk的音樂來跳黏巴達了,所以這樣的轉變是勢在必得的,Zouk音樂比較慢較放鬆,他們試著用黏巴達的基本舞步融入其他舞蹈元素,如: Salsa, tango. 最終Renata 和Adilio創立了巴西Zouk的基本步,也另創了自己的舞蹈學校,而同期的舞者還有Alex de Carvalho也曾是Jaime Aroxa教室的學生,但後來也自己開了教室,培育出很多出色的舞者,現今在線有很多知名的Zouk國際老師都曾是Renata或Alex的學生

雖然巴西Zouk主要發展的城市一直都在里約和聖保羅,但隨著很多舞者們的興起在世界到處旅行推廣這個舞蹈,使得這個舞的族群愈來愈多廣,目前巴西以外的國家,最大的族群分部在歐洲,美國第二,亞洲國家也趨之若鶩,目前仍在持續成長中,亞洲的第一個Zouk congrss是2010在馬來西亞舉辦的Zouk Sea

隨著它的多元發展,如今巴西Zouk用的音樂除了傳統的Caribbean Zouk以外,也包括Kizomba, RnB, reggaeton, pop,甚至更多種類,也吸引更多不同音樂族群的人對該舞蹈有興趣,也使得巴西Zouk這個名詞分支出不同的風格的Zouk,如: Rio Zouk (Traditional), Neo Zouk, Soul Zouk, Lambazouk…等等

在許多資深舞者及Zouk DJ的推廣下, 目前Zouk社交族群在台北正在成長茁壯,若有興趣想學這門唯美充滿流動性的舞蹈,歡迎和我們聯絡Contact us , TLDA擁有實力堅強的Zouk師資群,專業系統式教學幫你打好舞蹈基礎輕鬆享受雙人舞的互動樂趣

Some interesting links about history of lambada and zouk music and the days of lambada and early Brazilian zouk dance (most of these links are from Gui Prada)

Lambada:
1st song named Lambada – **Lambada (Sambão) **by **Pinduca**:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-uRkhqj9wE

1 st Lambada hit song to become famous nationally and internationally – **Chorando se Foi **by **Kaoma:**
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0opr1OZcA0

1st Zouk hit song to become famous nationally and internationally – **Zouk La Sé Sèl Médikaman Nou Ni **by **Kassav’**
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vv1wxZAR1k

Playlist with early Caribbean Zouk songs – notice the language in most of them – French Creole – and the speed:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Playlist with early (90’s) Zouk Love music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTxeDyQD0z8

Lambada videos

Lambada dance in Arraial D’Ajuda, probably in Jatobar in the late 80’s – notice that the couple is dancing to Amor, Amor by Gipsy Kings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Lambada Competition of 1990 with children:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Kaoma and their dancers in a live concert in 1990:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Watch the couple in yellow and green. They are Jairo Brasil and Mônica Mello. Famous in the 90’s and one of the first couples to execute the back and forward basic according to Philip Miha. You can see them doing it at first after minute 1:40.

Social dancing in Boca da Barra in Porto Seguro in 1992:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Lambada Choreography in 1994 – Jaime Arôxa Dance Company:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…
Notice that here we can already see the beginning of movements like Viradinha, Gostosinho and Lateral.

Early Brazilian Zouk
What is considered to be the first Brazilian Zouk Choreography in 2 versions – one with Renata Peçanha and Adílio Porto and their students and the other with the Jaime Arôxa Dance Company:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

This is a classic choreo that was danced by all formations of the Dance Company and by Renata and Adilio again in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-hBqLbOX60

Examples of Brazilian Zouk dancing in the first decade of the 2000’s:
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Example of Neo Zouk in its early years, in 2007:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=910u4YrTmuY

Other sources to check out about Brazilian Zouk

Zoukology
The Dancing Grapevine
Brazilian Zouk Dance Council