What is Zouk Dance?


Zouk Dance Origins

In the 80’s Lambada was a very popular dance in Brazil, especially in the night clubs in Rio de Janeiro. Over time, Lambada gained worldwide notoriety through films and it’s music.

What caused Lambada to lose its popularity?

  • It was a fast dance style with many challenging body movements, which made it harder for people of all ages to learn.
  • DJ’s started to play less and less Lambada music.
  • It became the forbidden dance due to how sensual the dance was.

In mid 90’s Brazilians discovered the rhythm Zouk from French Caribbean, which had many similarities with Lambada music. The Lambada lovers saw an opportunity to continue dancing their beloved dance style. Soon the Lambada dance style started to adapt to the Zouk music. However, Zouk music was slower than Lambada, so it was necessary to make alterations to the dance including to its basic steps.

This transformation happened in many states in Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, Jaime Aroxa, Renata Peçanha and Adilio Porto at Jaime Aroxa Dance School realised that in class it was difficult to teach the Lambada basics on the spot. With the influence of other Brazilian dance styles such as Samba de Gafieira, they included a new basic travelling forward and backwards. The linear Salsa also influenced them to create linear movements like “Lateral” and “Bonus”, because the Lambada movements were all circular. These changes started to help students learn the dance faster. Following that, other movements were created such as “Raul”, “Soltinho” and “Bonus”, which gave origin to our popular basic kit.

Many of the teachers and students at Jaime Aroxa Dance School helped contribute to the spread of this new teaching methodology, which spread to other schools and other cities around the world.

In other states such as Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais, the transformation of Lambada to Brazilian Zouk Dance originated in different ways creating different styles of Brazilian Zouk.

Even though this dance gets its name from a French style of music, it is still considerate a Brazilian dance, based on its direct ties to Lambada and being created in Brazil by Brazilian dancers.

Zouk Dance Definition

Brazilian Zouk is a Latin dance which began in Brazil during the early 1990s. It originated from a Brazilian dance called Lambada with influences from Samba de Gafieira, Brazilian Bolero and Forró.

While salsa is led with the hands, Brazilian zouk is led by various parts of the body. Sometimes, in a basic sideways body movement, it is the hips that move first, followed by the rest of the body a sensual Brazilian Zouk Dance characteristic.

Kadu and Larissa, are recognised around the world as being among a small number of dancers leading the popularity of the Brazilian Zouk Dance Style.

Zouk Music

Zouk music started to become popular around the time lambada music was fading from the Brazilian dance scene. After lambada music stopped being composed, Brazilian lambada dancers used zouk music. Soon, an offshoot of zouk called zouk-lambada was born. Nowadays top 40 songs are very popular in Brazilian zouk classes and parties all over the world.

Kadu Pires & Larissa Thayane - 1st Place J&J competition
Kadu Pires & Larissa Thayane - Los Angeles, 2015
Kadu Pires & Larissa Thayane - Canada, 2011