ZoukSide Down – A journey with Brazilian Zouk

A personal blog aimed at contributing, and paying homage, to the most sensual, beautiful dance of Brazil.

Letter to a Beginner

Dear Beginner,

Congratulations! You have just decided to start dancing Brazilian Zouk, the best dance in the whole world. Here are some things you should know.

1) There is no magic involved. By “magic”, I mean some mysterious talent some people have and others don’t. Dancing ability is a skill that is composed of many smaller skills. The steps, the coordination of the body, sense of rhythm, communication with the partner  – they are all skills that can be learned. Watching advanced dancers in action, you may not understand much of how they do what they do. But in the end, it’s just practice piled on more practice. The only magic is in the feeling it gives us.

2) Some people learn faster than others. Other than the amount of practice, the most important reason for this is the background skills. People who have done martial arts learn movements faster, people with musical training learn rhythm much easier, and so on. Even if it seems you are initially learning slower than others, you are progressing, and will keep on doing so as long as you keep practicing.

3) There is frustration and fumbling, especially in the beginning. This is particularly true for men since they traditionally have the role of leading the dance. There are a lot of things you need to keep track of and do. You will feel awkward, and it will take some time to become comfortable. Then again, you are a beginner, and people expect you to be awkward. Everyone is when starting out. It’s a natural part of the process. So, just relax, to the extent you can, and feel free to make mistakes.

4) Start dancing socially as soon as you can. This is the best way to learn fast. Usually, people want to take classes for a while, and go to dance only when they feel they know how to do it. This comes from the desire to not look awkward. It doesn’t work very well; classes are essential, but they prepare you only partially for social dancing. There are some things you only learn by doing. You know what is my reaction when I see some guy who just started classes come to a social, trying to awkwardly do the basic step he just learned? It’s “Damn, that’s impressive. He’s going to learn really fast if he keeps that up.”

5) Try not to compare yourself to more experienced dancers. They may be doing a lot of cool stuff or many moves. Guys often worry about not knowing enough moves, but that is nowhere as important as it may seem in the beginning. It’s possible to have a great dance doing only simple things. Some of the “cool stuff”, such as head movements or dips, can be harmful if not done right. Learn the foundations first, and get instruction on proper technique from good teachers.

6) The rewards of dancing Brazilian Zouk are many. They often include new friends, great experiences, happiness and increased sex appeal. Besides these side benefits, there is the joy of dance itself. In the beginning, it may be difficult to imagine. But work on it, and see what lies beyond awkwardness.

Yours in Zouk,
Jukka Välimaa

Author of this article: Jukka Välimaa

2 comments on “Letter to a Beginner

  1. David | Get Into English
    October 11, 2015

    I’ve been lucky that my teachers have all told me to concentrate on the basics, as in the Czech Republic scene there’s pressure to do all the cool figures and movements like all the advanced people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jukka
    July 10, 2015

    Thanks to Kristina, Sonja and Gaëlle for commenting on the draft.


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This entry was posted on July 10, 2015 by in Brazilian Zouk, Other Thoughts on Dancing and tagged , , , .
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