A personal blog aimed at contributing, and paying homage, to the most sensual, beautiful dance of Brazil.
Some weeks ago I took part in a great Kizomba workshop by Ronie Saleh. One of the things that resonated with me was his approach to learning. He said that he likes to learn a move and then squeeze all he can out of it. Instead of learning one way to do a move, and then learning something else, he learns it thoroughly and tries to figure out all the possible variations of it he can. He can spend hours just teaching different variations of the side-to-side basic step of Kizomba, and keep it interesting.
This approach can be used for any social dance that allows for creativity, Brazilian Zouk included. Generally, the simpler and more fundamental the movement, the more useful variations of it will be. How does it work in practice? Here are some possibilities, using the Brazilian Zouk basic step as the example movement. It’s written from the perspective of creating variations, but you can of course learn them from others as well.
You can change multiple things at once. As as example, what if you only did a part of the movement, and did it with a different timing? There are many possibilities. Not all of them will be nice or useful, but plenty will.
Note that it’s important to learn the original version of the movement really well, so you have the necessary base to support the variations. Otherwise, you will likely end up doing weird things and doing them badly. In the basic step example, to make more difficult variations work you will need to understand things like how to use contact, rotation of the upper body, pre-movement, and so on. You have to know the leading principles that can make the variations work, and your follow has to know the following principles.
I think this approach – extracting variations from the moves you already know – has many benefits.
When you only know sequences, you’re like a person who knows some stock phrases in a language; you can only communicate in very limited ways. When you know the individual moves and can freely link them to each other, you’re like a person who has actually studied the language, and can make up new sentences. When you can adjust the moves themselves to fit the music and the moment, you’re a fluent communicator, capable of expressing nuances – maybe even poetry. Unlike with language, there is no need to have a big vocabulary; it’s enough to know really well the moves you will be using.
Author of this article: Jukka Välimaa