Taking other dance classes in addition to zouk can help you improve faster – in fact, most advanced and all professional level social dancers have education in a variety of styles. Generally, any dance or martial arts will improve your zouk, since what it gives you is body awareness. Having this means you’ll pick up new movements fast and your body is already conditioned to perform them well.
However if you want to get some ideas then, yes, there are techniques taught in certain dance styles that come in handy when dancing zouk. Here’s a list of solo dance styles that I’d recommend to take and I’ll also explain why.
The mother of all dances. You will use ballet techniques even in a hip hop class. When you take ballet you’ll move your arms from the elbow. You’ll have a slight turnout to your feet. You’ll bend over with a straight back. These techniques are considered “advanced” in social dancing, but basic in ballet. You don’t need to become good at it – taking ballet and being the worst in the class will still mean you’ll be better than all the social dancers who have never done ballet. The point is to learn the basic concepts and have your body get used to them.
If for some reason you don’t want to or can’t take ballet classes, contemporary dance will similarly give you a well rounded dance education. I have only taken a few contemporary classes so I cannot speak much about it, but many internationally renowned zouk teachers recommend it. Freddy & Andressa have even said contemporary is a better complimentary style to zouk than ballet, since the latter can be too “stiff”, but in zouk you want to have fluidity in your movements. Contemporary dance uses ballet and modern dance techniques, so it will definitely give you good foundations.
At zouk parties you’ll very often hear hip-hop and R&B music, so taking hip–hop classes will give you ideas on how to style your dance to match the vibe of the music. Also, it’s pretty hard to motivate men to take ballet, since they think they are forced to wear tight leggings and pink tutu’s (which is NOT the case by the way), so most of them will happily take hip–hop as their “side class”. It makes sense though, since it tends to be more masculine and powerful, however women will definitely benefit from these classes as well.
It’s a relatively new dance style that only recently started appearing in the schedules of regular dance studios. Heels was first danced on big stages at pop star concerts – think Beyonce, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj. It’s pretty much hip hop danced on heels, but also adding movements from jazz, burlesque and others, combining it into a very feminine and energetic style. Taking heels classes will help women practice bringing out their inner diva, and learn to keep their balance on heels. Famous social dance stars like Mathilde dos Santos and Sara Panero also dance heels in addition to social dances.
I believe that in order to be good in partner dance you also need to be good in solo, so if you have any higher goals in dancing, definitely take some time to improve your solo game!