What is Brazilian Zouk?

The Dance

Brazilian zouk has its roots in the lambada. After being popular for a short period lambada soon became disreputable and was called ‘the forbidden dance’. However, lambada dancers continued dancing the lambada to other music styles, such as the Caribbean zouk and also started calling the dance zouk to avoid the association with the lambada. The slower zouk music had an impact on the fast lambada movements and soon a new, more sensual and fluent dance style, emerged. Nowadays, Brazilian zouk is also often danced to popular music with a zouk beat such as RnB, Hiphop and Dubstep. Over the years, also the dance changed and new zouk styles evolved using elements of other dance styles such as ballet, modern dance and hip-hop. Brazilian zouk has spread from Brazil over many other countries in the world. The countries that are known for a lively zouk scene are Brazil, the Netherlands, Australia, England, Spain, USA, Israel, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand, Germany, Poland, France and Denmark.
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The Music

Zouk or Zouk béton is a fast tempo carnival style of music originating from the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Zouk means festival, well named because it uses carnival rhythms and contains West African influences. The French Creole tongue of Martinique and Guadeloupe is an important element. Caribbean zouk music became popular in 1980 through the band Kassav'. Kassav’ gave the style a pan-Caribbean sound by taking elements from compas, reggae and salsa music, and became one of the most famous bands of the genre in the world. In 1984 they landed a worldwide success with the hit "Zouk-la-sé Sel Médikaman Nou Ni". With this hit, Caribbean zouk rapidly became the most widespread dance craze to hit Latin American in some time, and was wildly popular even as far afield as Europe, Africa and Asia. In recent years new zouk music styles have emerged such as Zouk-love, Neo-zouk and Kizouk.
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Research Paper - Zouk in the Netherlands

In 2014 Charlotte Mathiessen has written a thesis about zouk in the Netherlands. The thesis deals with the historical background of zouk and with opinions and experiences of zouk dancers in the Dutch dance scene. Charlotte has sent questionnaires to many zouk dancers in the scene and has formulated her conclusion based on this data. She is aware that she did only reach a minority of zouk dancers in the Netherlands and that her paper does not represent the whole Dutch dance scene. It rather is an attempt to open up new topics for discussions and to inspire people to think differently about zouk. If you are interested in reading the thesis you can use the download link bellow.

Download the thesis

Suggested Links

ZoukAmsterdam Dance School
Gert's zouk playlists