History of Brazilian Zouk

Brazilian Zouk evolved from a Brazilian dance called Lambada. Lambada grew fast, it was a fever especially in Brazil, however at the beginning of the 90’s it started to lose its popularity. While it was popular, Lambada was a dance that took over most night clubs in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro. Night clubs played only Lambada. One day the DJ’s started to fell uncomfortable about all that success and decided to get together to deflate the music. This initiative from the DJs contributed to Lambada’s fall. Another important reason was the fact that it was a fast dance style with many challenging body movement, which made it harder for people of all ages to learn.

In mid 90’s Brazilians discovered the rhythm Zouk from French Caribbean which had many similarities with Lambada music due to Lambada music have many influences from the Caribbean rhythms. The Lambada lovers so an opportunity to continue dancing their beloved dance style. In Rio de janeiro there were many Lambada dancers who wanted to continue dancing the style. Soon the Lambada dance started to adapt to the Zouk music. However the Zouk music was slower than the Lambada, so it was necessary to make alterations to the dance including to it’s 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 and with the influence of other Brazilian dance styles such as Samba de Gafieira they modified the basics from being on the spot to travel forward and backwards. The linear Salsa also influenced them to create liver movements like “Lateral” and “Bonus”, because the Lambada movements were all circular. These changes helped students to learn easily. Following that other movements came up such as “Raul” and “Bonus”, which gave origin to our popular basic kit.

There were also many teachers and students at Jaime Aroxa school who contributed to the development of this dance style. With this support they were able to spread this new teaching methodology to other schools, other cities and also around the world.

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

Because this dance evolved from a Brazilian dance Lambada, it is a Brazilian dance. It is not because the name is not Brazilian that the dance will not be from Brazil. All Zouk professionals then decided to call this dance style Brazilian Zouk (Zouk Brasileiro), with the objective to protect our own culture and also with the objective not to interfere with different culture’s interpretations of Zouk.

 

Interview Renata Peçanha
Lambada - Kaoma performance in 1989
One of first Brazilian Zouk choreographies 25 years ago