Encyclopedia of Dance: Zouk


Zuk is a dance of different styles, closely related to the music of the same name, but differing in performance depending on the place of its distribution.

«Party», «festival» — this is how the word «zouk» is translated from the French Creole language. The zouk dance became famous and popular in the 1980s after it was used in theatrical performances that amazed the audience with new music, spectacular dance elements and colorful costumes. From that moment, the zouk began its march around the world.

The history of the origin of the dance

The Zuk dance is relatively young. At the end of the 20th century, the Grammacks and Exile One popularized the rhythmic dance music common in the French islands of Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Martinique. The zouk style began to spread actively in Europe, especially in France, as well as in North America.

Due to the fact that the performance of zouk was influenced by a wide variety of cultures, four distinct styles gradually developed:

  • zouk-love (Haitian and Franco-Caribbean)
  • lambazouk (Brazilian style folded from lambada)
  • kizomba (common in Angola and Cape Verde)
  • soulzouk (introduced in 2005 in China thanks to a Brazilian variant mixed with other contemporary genres).

Zouk continues to develop at the present time, evidence of this is the emergence of a new direction — Zouk Revolution.

Types of zouk dance and their features

The features of this dance are determined by its stylistic affiliation.


This type is one of the leading styles in which the dance is performed to lyrical and dramatic songs about love and parting. The pace of execution is slow. The beginning of the appearance of this style is associated with songs performed by Ophelia Mary, a singer from the Dominican Republic.

Zouk-love is somewhat similar to the traditional Caribbean style, quite simple and uncomplicated in execution, which mainly uses steps with the transfer of weight from one foot to the other. And the movements of the hips, the main movements in zouk-love, are distinguished by ease, smoothness, as if flowing from one to another.

The maximum proximity of the dancers during the performance, the limited spatial movements made the dance a suitable «club» option. Zouk-love is most widespread in French-speaking countries.



Kizomba is more common in Angola, the Cape Verde Islands and Portugal.

Outwardly, kizomba is very similar to zouk-love. It is also characterized by the close contact of the dancers and the movement of the hips. The peculiarity of this style lies in the fact that in the dance there are a lot of movements with the legs below the knees — various turns of the feet, throwing one leg over the other. The upper body is usually inactive. The dancers practically do not separate during the dance, the contact of the bodies is close and constant.


In Brazil, a mixture of Caribbean zouk and lambada dance took place. Lambada is an energetic and fast dance, and its performance to the music of the zouk changed the style of the dance, gradually turning into lambazouk. This style is more spectacular and more complex than the previous ones. The movements of the hips in it are the main ones, but the dance is more rhythmic, filled with passion and sensuality. It uses turns and cambrai (falls), and sometimes acrobatics may be used. A very important role in this variety of zouk is played by the flexibility of the partner, who bends during the dance, gracefully throws her head back, which gives the dance a unique sensual flavor.


Soulzouk or zook freestyle has appeared quite recently. A teacher from Brazil created it in China, but it still received the greatest distribution among Brazilians. The peculiarity of the style can be seen in the fact that it can be performed not only with traditional zouk music, but also with rap, R&B, hip-hop. The movements of the dance have also undergone significant changes — it already uses not only the movements of the hips as leading ones, but also includes the legs, shoulders and head.

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