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Names, Terminology & Categorization

Coming from Salsa, it's been refreshing seeing how many more moves and movements have names in Zouk. The Portuguese names are a mixed bag, I remember them much better because they are so unique, but I have no idea how to pronounce them. In writing this guide, I've tried my best to gather up all the different names that each move has come to be identified by and include them at the beginning of each of the move's sections. Roughly speaking, if I see a name be used by two different sources to refer to the same move, I include it in the guide.

Social dancing in many ways is an oral tradition, with the gift of dance being spread from person to person, meanings shifting and changing as they are passed along. Each person and scene has their own terminology that they build up and use, with their own conceptions of what a move is and how it should be done. Zouk is a language all of it's own and I have tried to mirror the terminology I see used most often in the guide, using the particular name I see most often for a move as the primary name that that move is referred to by. At the same time, I think this guide is breaking new ground in that most people who want to talk about Zouk and social dancing in general use their voice and bodies on videos and in person, rather than the written word and visual explanations I want to use here. I imagine I have made up some terminology and distinctions already that make sense written down but probably would not make sense in a conversation.

I've omitted the history of Zouk and the different dances that went combined together over the last few decades to become what we now know as Zouk. I am personally more interested right now in becoming more knowledgable in dancing Zouk as it is now than I am in becoming well versed in the history of NeoZouk, Lambada, ZoukLove and the many other dances that went into what we now call Zouk. Someday it would be good to include them, but for now others are in a much better place to write that down than I am. If you are interseted in reading more about the history of Zouk though, I do recommend these webpages (link, link, and link) to get started with.

Lastly, categorization of movements and moves is a tricky business. Part of the research I have done the last few years is to try and find an underlaying structure to social dancing, something universal to every social dance that can help me understand each particular social dance better. I think I have some stuff that is useful, in that it helped me write this all out, but it remains to be seen whether it collapses in on itself. For the most part, for right now, I categorize things based on what I see is the primary characteristic of the move, whether it is a step, a rotation, a body movement, a head movement, things like that. However, sometimes I throw up my hands and just put it in the unique category because I can't figure out where else to put it, like Balao Apagado. Balao Apagado is not just a step or a head movement or a rotation, it's all of those things at once, and to take away any part of it, is to lose the unique characteristic of the movement that makes it Balao Apagado. So, for now, it and a few others stand alone.