Dancing has been one of my greatest investments. With the correct nurturing and guidance, it will reward you for all the time, effort and money you’ve invested in achieving your desired results.
Over the years I’ve tried many different types of Zouk classes and courses, both locally in the UK and internationally.
In this series of blogs, I’ll share my thoughts on various learning methods, comparing the different class types and who they may be most suitable for.
Ideally, everyone should try every type of class or course and discover what works best for them. The most effective is generally finding the right balance of the different types of classes available. I hope that sharing my experiences will help you to make an informed decision prior to planning and investing your valuable time and money.
There will be 4-parts for easy digestion:
- Part 1:
- Progressive Courses
- Special One-Day Workshops and Congress Workshops
- Part 2:
- DanceCamps/Bootcamps & Intensive Courses
- Privates Classes
- Part 3:
- Drop-in Bar Classes
- Part 4:
- Other Considerations & Final Words
My Definition: Typically pre-paid or require registration and acceptance before you can join. 1-3 classes per week spanning over multiple weeks and you are expected to commit during the period of time.
Generally held in a dance studio or school with plenty of space, good flooring, and mirrors.
Each course may cover a particular topic, technique or concept including a detailed breakdown. You should find that the teachers have planned your learning development so everything you learn is related to the rest of the course.
Levels can be monitored, but are typically open level, as the topics tend to focus on basic fundamentals. This may vary in some schools though…
You should find progressive courses being offered at your local dance schools.
Taught by: Ranges from Zouk enthusiasts to top professionals.
Who is this suitable for? Anyone, especially if you are looking to learn how to dance. This is even suitable for hobbyist and first-timers. I would also still recommend them to experienced dancers because you can simply pick topics that you are weak on and focus your time on those. However, not all the topics that you may be seeking are available all the time.
Who this NOT suitable for? Probably not for highly experienced dancers, because if you are at that level then you would be better off investing in being exposed to the international dance world and looking for new inspirations, concepts and practice time with other dancers of similar experience. Also, it doesn’t make sense for anyone who doesn’t live locally to the school as you need to be able to make a certain time commitment.
Speed of progression: Moderate
Discipline & commitment required: Moderate, 1-3 evenings per week.
My comments: It offers a good environment where most students are dedicated enough to turn up regularly and drills that may seem tedious in the eyes of most, but I find to be essential exercises in building the techniques needed to progress as a Zouk dancer.
I generally find progressive courses are great for starters. The teachers don’t need to be top professionals or renowned artists. However, the person teaching the beginners class should actually be the best teacher at the school.
Based on my experience, for someone to have the ability to teach the correct basic fundamentals to a beginner, they need to have vast dance experience and knowledge. Once beginners learn to walk properly, it’s generally easier for others to teach them and build on that strong foundation. But then again, that’s just my opinion.
Special One-Day Workshops and Congress Workshops
My Definition: These could be special one-day workshops or workshops at congresses that are taught by professionals who have been invited to share a particular technique or concept and fill in the gaps in experience, knowledge or skills of the local teachers and Zouk enthusiasts.
These are great opportunities for everyone of all experience levels unless there are competency prerequisites that need you to have an understanding of the Zouk basics. Although saying that, pre-requisites rarely tend to be an issue as the people attending would have had local classes.
Taught by: Typically professionals and world-renowned dance artists.
Who is this suitable for? All levels.
Who this not suitable for? Completely new beginners, because it’s kind of expected for you to have had a few local classes.
Speed of progression: Slow-Moderate
Disciple required: Moderate
My Comments: Over the last 5 years, the materials taught had evolved. Previously they were predominantly based on teaching movement patterns. At the time of writing this, they are more focused on teaching correct techniques and concepts.
I’ll discuss these important changes further in a separate blog and why I believe this is crucial in taking the global Zouk scene towards a healthier direction (not that it isn’t healthy currently, but there still are many underlying issues to tackle).
These days, you will find the workshops to be very oversubscribed and difficult to observe the teachers closely with the crowd obscuring your view. My learning strategy had changed over the years and now I would use these classes as an initial tool to gauge and understand what I could learn from a particular teacher. If their teaching style and what they could teach interest me enough that I want to invest further, then I would either take privates or go to boot camp(s) with those teachers.
During the workshops, I don’t pay too much attention to getting the movement right, instead, I put my focus on listening and understanding the concept. I would then spend days, weeks, or even months on analysing and putting into practice where and how I could incorporate it into my existing dance movements.