I am by no means an expert in growing a Zouk scene, however, one of my biggest all-time inspirations would be the city Warsaw, Poland. From there, it emanated to the rest of Poland with many upcoming and thriving Zouk scenes.
Warsaw had become the Zouk capital of Europe with many frequent weekly classes, massive international events, boot camps and weekly parties happening!
With low costs flights, accommodation and Zouk event tickets to Poland. Is this the reason why Poland’s Zouk scene is thriving?
That may be a small factor in drawing frequent international crowds, however, that isn’t the real reason why it’s become such a success…
Having had the chance to spend a whole week stuck on a yacht with Michal Wysoczanski who played a key part in the Polish group’s development of the Zouk scene in Warsaw.
We sailed, we drank, we had jokes, laughed, shared our reasons to dance and lots of debates about our shared passion of Zouk.
Very recently, Michal released a Facebook post summarising the 7 years timeline from the birth of Zouk in Warsaw in January 2011 until today 2017.
Within this 6-7 years period, Warsaw had grown to become one of the most active and thriving Zouk community and you can find an abundance of high-quality dancers (a combination of dance skills, filled with passion and friendly personalities).
My curious mind got me thinking and trying to understand the mechanics and economy of a dance scene and question why some flourish more than others, while some don’t.
Below is the entire Facebook post by Michal (borrowed with permission). It is inspirational how the collaboration of many can exponentially grow a healthy Zouk scene. Though I may mention Michal’s name several times, the success of Warsaw Zouk is truly due to the Polish dance group’s entire effort, passion & teamwork, and not because of just one or two people.
After you read it, take a moment to form your own set of opinions of why what and how Warsaw Zouk scene became so prosperous and how you can help improve your own Zouk scene. Maybe we all can learn a thing or two from this very successful case.
Coming up in the next blog very soon ‘The CLOCKWORKS of a DANCE SCENE’, we’ll be looking at some of the main contributors that make a thriving and healthy dance scene.
Many thanks for reading, please SHARE and COMMENT!
Michal Wysoczanski, Facebook post on 30th October 2017
I don’t know if there are other good #zouk recipes, but this one worked out nicely for #Warsaw…
Year 1: Biggest salsa school in Warsaw prepares Zouk workshops and plans to start Zouk scene in Warsaw afterward. A couple of Salsa dancers fall in love with Zouk and start dancing zouk in Warsaw. There is 1 class per week for the first half year, but the crazy ones keep training on their own. A few international festivals visited and lots of training. The school allows the Zoukers to run a zouk practice during the week (this party changed location couple times but it lasts until now). After half year one more class is opened. There are two couples who teach in the same school now. Meanwhile, a group of 6 fanatics prepares first Zouk show (3 couples) and presents it during big Salsa festival.
Year 2: The third couple starts teaching. Three classes per week, all in the same school. Each new students group is called “generation” because new classes open more or less every half year. Another show is being prepared and shown during Prague Festival. Zouk is small but strong. Usually, between 10 and 20 people come for the practice every week.
Year 3-5: Third group show is prepared. Students’ choreo is prepared as well. Advanced students start to teach in other Salsa schools. And this is ok (Neither of the first instructors was good enough when they started teaching – In fact, students who start teaching now are better than their instructors were when they started teaching in Year 1). Despite teaching in competitive schools, Zouk seems not to be influenced by competitiveness. People from all schools come to the same party and stay as a little (but growing) Zouk family. This family organizes trips to Zouk festivals together. Many of these people become good friends. After 6th or 7th generation the counting stopped because the flow of the new Zoukers was too continuous 🙂
Year 6-7: Zouk in Warsaw is booming. 2-3 parties per week are being held. There are around 50 people each week for the mid-week party (despite having work the following day) and a similar number on Friday. Occasional integration picnics are being organized (for Zouk people from all schools). Every bigger Salsa school has at least one Zouk class now. There are about 12-15 active Zouk instructors and they keep co-operating. They cross promote their courses (many students go to more than one school to learn more versatile and quicker) and they cover classes for each other when needed (despite teaching in competitive schools). 20 is not a rare number of participants in regular Zouk classes. The record is close to 50.
- There was no super experienced couple when Zouk started in Warsaw (everyone was learning from scratch). This might have helped other instructors to emerge from the original group. If Zouk was taught only in one school until now it would not have got so big for sure.
- Most of the Zouk instructors were not full-time teachers. This meant that any money from teaching was just additional pocket money thus there was less competitiveness. This made it easier for instructors to support their students who decided to teach despite being some sort of competition. It also helped to openly support each other on the way and maintain good relations in the group.
- Good relations between instructors were affecting entire Warsaw Zouk scene – many students mentioned that they like that there are a good atmosphere and no drama.
- There is one facebook Zouk group for Warsaw where every active instructor is an administrator – all instructors agreed on rules for the group (how much and what can be advertised) – the group is unrelated to any single dance school.
- One more cool episode of the history that is highly commendable: At one point when more teachers emerged Zuzanna organized a free pre-party practice class for teachers where any participant (teachers and invited best students) could teach all other teachers something what they are good at. Any teacher who had a topic that they wanted to cover just booked a “spot” and was teaching other teachers their favourite moves. We even sometimes asked someone to show the move they dance. It lasted until we ran out of ideas what to teach ? (until there were no volunteers to teach anymore)
Today there are over 24 total hours of Zouk classes taught in 7 Salsa schools by 12 teachers every week. There are 2-3 parties every week and additionally weekend crash courses or thematic workshops (spins, styling, counterbalance, etc.)
— Michal Wysoczanski, PL