Have you been to Brazilian zouk dance classes and heard teachers throw around foreign terms, but never managed to understand them? In zouk it’s common to call many moves by their original names in Portuguese. (You knew that they speak Portuguese in Brazil, right?)
It’s perfectly normal to struggle with them if you haven’t learned the language or seen the names in written form. Even if you have learned Portuguese but are still confused, know that it’s okay – the pronunciation of words is quite different in Portugal vs Brazil. But I’m here to help. In this blog post I am going to list some of the more common Portuguese names of brazilian zouk moves, illustrated with GIFs.
This move has been named elástico because the leader is pulling the follower forward from the hand as if pulling an elastic band, and the follower also “bounces back”. Elástico, as you might have already guessed, means “elastic” or “springy”. The same movement can also be called raul, which is more commonly used in Brazil. There are many variations of this move.
Viradinha means “little turn”, and that is exactly what’s happening in the movement. The follower is being lead to do a pivot. This you might have already learned in a fundamentals course since it’s a prerequisite of learning lateral.
The finishing steps of bônus or “boomerang” that followers do are called patinha and there are many variations of it. In the image below you can see the full bônus where patinha would be the “3-4-and” part after the turn.
This is the move where leader turns, then follower turns, leader turns again and so on. I’m not exactly sure where the name comes from, since it seems to translate into “loose”, however I know there is a separate dance style called soltinho in Brazil that has a similar turning move. Was this figure taken from the other dance? If you know, please help me out in the comments below.
Frango assado translates to “roasted chicken” and it signifies the rotation of follower’s upper body on a horizontal axis (a type of head movement). It’s really a name of the technique, rather than a move. Below on the image you can see one of many uses of it.
Balão means “balloon”, “ball” or “sphere”. This is another head movement technique and is referring to follower’s upper body rotation around a vertical axis. Again this is a name of a technique, not a move, and it can be used in many different figures.
Direct translation of bate cabelo would be “beating hair” or “hitting hair”. In this movement followers are moving their upper body in kind of an 8-figure motion. When they relax their neck, the hair starts whipping around. Bachata dancers have taken this move from zouk and are using it as well.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are many more. I might do a part 2 if there is interest. (Edit: I finally did, read it here!) I left out names that have obvious similarities to English like bonus – bônus, or lateral – lateral and also names that outside of Brazil are commonly referred to in English, like “basic step”, “simple turn” or “counterbalance”.
Please note that the same moves can have many different Portuguese names throughout Brazil. These are the ones I have heard being used by instructors travelling in Europe.
I hope that seeing Portuguese names of Brazilian zouk moves written out on the screen will help you remember them better, especially if you don’t speak Portuguese. Good luck with learning this beautiful dance!
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