Question by megannuggets
Hi all! I’ve been fusion dancing in the Colorado area for the past two-ish years, so I am by no means an expert, but I am definitely not a beginner anymore. The venue that I dance at is hosting a 2-part Zouk series by Rachel Farley this Friday and the next Friday as well. I have absolutely no experience with Zouk, but I have watched videos and I am VERY excited to learn! I was wondering if any of you can give me tips for the dance itself, or maybe how I can start preparing my limbs and core for the types of moments that are required by Zouk? Any input is helpful! Thank you!
Since you watched videos and are now asking how to prep, my best answer is: don’t. All the cool movements you see in zouk happen naturally once you understand the technique. If you try to skip that step, or, more importantly, if someone tries to force you into moves with which you’re not comfortable, then you’ll end up getting hurt.
By all means, have fun and experiment and learn, just don’t try to rush it. And know that part of being a good lead is paying attention to the level of your follow. I don’t care how great a lead looks dancing with someone else, if they try to force someone to do things they aren’t ready to do, they are a terrible lead and it’s not worth your time to dance with them.
It largely depends on how/what the workshops teach. But three things to check before could be helpful:
A) Body isolations
Most of the moves require isolated body movements. Not choreographed ones, but your ability to allow the lead to lead individual isolations. It’s not “do body wave” but “be able to move your rib cage without moving the rest”.
From the leads perspective most of the moves are much easier, when the follow builds an active connection. You have to “embrace” him actively and not simply let him take you into a hold. Your hand/arm connect to his back side and there actually to his shoulder blade area (not the outer part of the shoulders). No need to fully embrace an unknown guy, but if you are too distanced it really feels awkward. With which part of the arm you do this isn’t that important, so start with hand on shoulder blade, but you have to be able to feel his body movement. This makes body leading much easier. Also for close quarter movements a “hand on shoulder” as often practiced everywhere is actually a block, which makes those rather simple moves unnecessarily difficult and awkward.
C) calm down
Your job is not to know the moves. Your job is to know your body and to tell the lead – within the connection – that everything is set and working correctly. Lead stealing and improvisation comes later. (Or never, depending on how backwards/showy the teachers are.)
Many things in Zouk are quite difficult to lead and often times the needed time for learning/exploring how to lead it is forgotten. In such a workshop, if I got 2 “helpful” follows in a row, I usually missed the window to actually learn the lead. So be nice to the guys.
1. Drill the basics. Until you don’t need to focus on not missing that boom-click-click timing. A good benchmark if you can do some stuff with your hands like dishwashing, laundry, eating or cleaning up while going with boom-click-click with your feet to the music.
2. Drill the frame. The good frame is your back straight, your shoulders down, and your arms relaxed with only tips of your fingers keeping the contact with the follower. The frame is drilled when you don’t need to focus on it.
3. Don’t try to pull off cool looking moves you have seen on youtube before you have hard-drilled the correct technique of underlying basic moves. You will hurt the follower and she will not want to dance with you again.
4. Good dancing is not about cool moves. It is about paying attention to the follower and to the music. Use the simplest moves you can to lead the follower clearly and comfortably while occasionally hitting some of the accents in music. This will differentiate you from the most leaders that bust their asses (and hurt the followers) to show off and the girls will stand in lines to dance with you.