Slideshow: Sensual zouk dancing becomes hot in US

May 01, 2014 2:37 am  • 

Zouk dance and music — born in the French Caribbean, adopted in Brazil and spread throughout Latin America and Europe — is now taking root in the United States.

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  • The word "zouk" is Antillean French Creole and means "party." The music quickly spread throughout the Caribbean and could also be heard on radios in northern Brazil. There, another music craze was taking place: Lambada and what would become known as the "forbidden dance" for its close, sensuous twirls and hip movements. By the early 1990s, however, lambada music had begun to fade. Adapting what they heard on the radio, Brazilians began dancing lambada-style moves to the slower-paced zouk music trickling in from their neighbors to the north. - AP

  • Partners dance with the closeness of tango, sensuality of bachata and quick turns reminiscent of salsa.

  • Zouk music began in the West Indies in the early 1980s. The band Kassav is widely credited with creating the first popular zouk songs. The group was formed in Paris and combined traditional Caribbean rhythms like gwo ka beats from Guadalupe, Haitian compas and Trinidadian calypso with synthesizers and drum machines.

  • Dancers kept many of the core elements of lambada, including flowing body movements and head rolls. While in the Caribbean, zouk is danced at two beats per measure, in Brazil, dancers adapted it to four beats per measure, allowing for a slight pause between some of the steps. -AP

  • Brazilian zouk classes and dance scenes can be found in cities stretching from Seattle to New York, and festivals featuring parties and top dancers are being held in Miami and Washington. A second annual zouk congress starting Thursday in Los Angeles is expected to draw hundreds.

    "It's already huge in Europe, it's very big in Australia, all of South America," said Kendra Haynes, one of the first to give zouk classes in Miami. "The U.S. is just a little bit behind."

  • In Miami, a growing Brazilian population also contributed to the dance's rise. Renato Medeiros, 33, recalls leaving Brazil to pursue a culinary career in the U.S. about seven years ago, and being perplexed there was no zouk dancing in Miami. For almost two years, he didn't dance.

    Then a friend arrived from Brazil and began giving classes.

    He said the last year there has been "a boom."

    "I think it's the sensuality," he said of the dance's growing popularity. "Zouk is a completely fluid dance. It's almost like you're floating." - AP

  • Lambada 3 demo by Marcelo, 2nd International Zouk Lambada Dance Congress, London, 2010. Zouk incorporates Lambada moves.

  • hottest zouk dance ever

  • Ashle Dawson and Henry Velandia show how to do the basic steps of the Latin dance zouk in this Howcast dance video.

  • Ashle Dawson and Henry Velandia show how to do the zouk washing machines dance step with this Latin dance video from Howcast.

  • Ashle Dawson and Henry Velandia show how to do simple turns in zouk dance in this Latin dance video from Howcast.

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