Fundamentals, Breaking Plateau, and Converting Your Dance to Zouk
21 minute read
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00:00 - Intro
04:00 - David's Best Private
08:00 - Breaking Down Movement
16:30 - Growing a Dance Scene
22:00 - Students Who Learn the Fastest
29:00 - How to Break Plateau
30:00 - What Salsa and Bachata Dancers Need to Learn to do Zouk
In the video
💃🕺 Kevin & David
► Website: https://www.socialdancebachata.com/
► Main Website: https://www.kevotsai.com/
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Hey guys, welcome back to another interview, very excited This time I've got David and I've been working with David for several months now,
maybe since from the beginning of the year and my Zouk improvement has been like so much, and it's not just because like my Zouk improvement,
but I think in general my improvement of understanding like how the body works has improved, like, you know, dramatically like a little bit about David from my perspective,
like if you were researching, if you are researching like top 10 places to go,
like for traveling to a new country, google will only show you like the mainstream ones.
Like if you were to do that in Sydney, you'll find the Opera House,
Bondi Beach and things like that, but you won't find the hidden gem that is kind of like a local secret that people only talk about,
but they don't but they don't put out there.
And David is the Zouk teacher version of that.
So like, I like my I've asked around before I started privates with you,
I was like, what's what's what's different and then people say, oh, he can explain things about,
you know, things that I'm not doing correctly in such a simple way, that makes sense.
And and then that's what I find as well, like actually, oh wow, like breaking it down.
in terms of breaking it down, it's like, oh my God, like, you know,
basic english, you know, this is easiest to understand because sometimes it sounds to me it's like over my head, it's like this energy and,
and, and things like that, it's very hard to understand.
But yeah, for you, it's more like hips forward, you know, things like that.
So yeah, would you care to,
you know, introduce yourself a little bit like how you got into and stuff like
that. So I started
six or seven years ago in Sydney.
my first teacher here was actually, a guy named rob and it was part of a school called go Dance at the time and it was a really quick course.
actually didn't like it at first and eventually I was part of the classes and the music really hooked me because I felt like I could dance to music that I really liked on the top chart or on the radio.
Whereas salsa bachata, I couldn't, I couldn't really feel myself,
moving to those in the beginning and then I moved over to Sunny and Heidi's classes.
I did, I think to terms with them and then straight away I felt like I wanted to learn more.
I wanted to because by then was already picking up abroad overseas and internationally.
So I saw on Youtube there was a lot of different styles and different energy that was coming out and most of it was coming out from brazil.
So I decided to travel to brazil and then that basically started my journey and I will go back there and I'll travel to europe and to America as often as I could just look right and then yeah and then most of my learning happened overseas in Congresses and
over privates and I will train most of the time abroad and with my partner at the time right?
You've traveled a lot learned from like a bunch of different like teachers.
Which one would you say was your favourite 1?
my very first private was at my very first to congress and
and it was a lambada Congress, which I didn't know at the time.
So when I went there no one was dancing traditional zouk
but I love the energy so much I wanted to learn lambada from someone and in the entire Congress, the only person who could speak english properly and teach probably was Henry.
So some people will know him as Ryel and until today, out of all of the privates that I've taken out of all of the people that I've trained with that was by far the best private I've taken and I would say that he,
he for me really showed me what it meant to really understand and help you improve in a private setting. Yes. And what I got out of that because at the time I was already a teacher teaching visual because that's my background.
I really, I really felt like that like his teaching style and what he did.
Really resonated, resonated with me.
So he really took the time to make sure that I understood what he was saying throughout the entire private, he was very positive and he was giving me encouragement and he made sure that I had feedback and clarification when I did get that for
me was really important because a lot of times when I took private later when I got something I didn't know, I didn't know that I got it right,
so I kept trying other ways was and I felt really confident and I really felt that I was improving when he re ensured that I got it and then from there we could move on and was really just a really positive vibe and you could tell that he really cared and that kind of set the tone for later on when I started teaching,
I always use that private as my kind of model going forward.
So it's about him taking the time to make sure that you understand what you're doing if you're making a mistake.
Yes. And also the fact that if I didn't understand something, he will find a way using different analogies using language that he thought I could understand to make sure that I get what he's trying to say.
And I think that really, really help me and it really inspired me to do what I'm doing.
That's interesting because I thought you would say someone like Anderson and Brenda would be like perfect, like explain it once and then everyone will get it like just have such a high level of being able to explain but it's actually about like the
like making sure that finding ways until you understand
for sure for sure. I mean like I don't think there is a mold for anyone to teach that suits everybody.
I think there is a general way where you can be clear but everybody learns different, learns differently. Everybody takes in information differently.
Our brain works in our own unique ways.
So it really takes a great amount of understanding from the teacher and effort for them to kind of tap into your brain to make sure that they're on the same wavelength wavelength as you and we can go forward easier from there.
So you mentioned that you're actually also like art teacher?
Yes, that's correct. So my background is actually visuals and I have been teaching and practicing it for since I was high school. Right? Yeah,
so that was my thing to do.
So I was really, you know, I was trained in teaching, I have a degree and so I'm quite familiar with my classroom settings,
pedagogy these, you know like teaching methods how to cater for that and I felt I could, you know, bringing some of that into my own teaching now and then it has been quite useful.
you're trying to like explain a move, is there a general I'll I always start here or you know like you just kind of like see based on the move what you can do.
kind of like
Yes there there is for I think for everything there is definitely has to be a starting point otherwise if you cater different for everybody,
first of all it's too much information process and second of all is inconsistent, so there needs to be some kind of consistency across the overall communication because that fits in through your syllabus or through your content,
but I just feel like you need to adapt that information so that the person who's receiving it can understand it, so I'll give him the general mold of it and I'll see based on their reaction and based on how they moved and how they're learning after that
how effective has been located that information to what goes on after that.
So my experience in like practicing zouk honestly when I first came into zouk I think it was like around, I don't know like october november last year I was like of the opinion ah yeah it's not gonna be too hard,
you know like I already sensual and zouk is basically body movement, right? That's what that's what people say,
you know from the outside and then when I started learning I was like oh my god this is so hard, even the movements that I thought I already knew I was there so many things to fix and like honestly I
never kind of like saw, so here's the thing,
every teacher will say the basic, the foundation is important and I've learned with different teachers who would like make me drill the basic again and again and again.
But then when I actually did the move the basic and the move never really connected.
Like it's almost like the basic just to make it look like, you know, you know the basic steps make it look smooth.
But then it's not really trying to like, like connecting to the movement,
but like the way you taught it is like that's why I really like it is because like the ground, the energy that travels up,
it's all relevant and that's why I like the basic only is very very important.
You can't skip it.
Yeah, I think that's consistent in a lot of the practice, like the stronger foundation that you have,
the easier or the more clear the other moves your your advancement will become.
But I think it's really important both as a student, as a teacher or just a dancer to kind of connect it all together.
Like you could be practicing basics for years, but if you don't understand why you're practicing it and how you can apply that knowledge into other moves and then your body might understand it,
but when you want to explain it and when something goes wrong in the future, you can't link it to what you've been practicing then it's not very effective.
So I'll say that's where like for me when I teach it and I really took the time to kind of linked everything together so that people know that when they're practicing the basics or practice of moving with a purpose,
so they know that they're learning something that could be used for for later and then later on when something goes wrong, then they can refer back to these concepts and be like oh that's actually what happened and then they can reverse engineer from there
in my mind if I learn fundamentals and just be really good at it and make it second nature, everything else will be become slightly easier as opposed to like memorizing different things for different scenarios where it doesn't really connect anywhere.
with Zouk I feel like the part for the follower and for the leader is very challenging in different ways. Like we have a different,
we have a completely different challenge in terms of like running classes In look like if you guys don't know David's workshops within 10 minutes, the girls pass will be sold out and then it's like like the ticket is like Piranhas 20 trying to
get one ticket and the opposite is true for bachata, the girls,
you know, they progress like way, way, way, way quicker to the,
to the point that they kind of get bored quicker so that the retention is very difficult, like like we we don't have enough girls most of the time,
but with zouk, it's almost the opposite.
Like, like it's, it's very, very hard to find leads.
Yes, that's right. I think overall, I mean my experience that in most dancing partner dancing men a little bit more reluctant to jump on and
with zouk, it's even more because it's very, unfortunately is not very hands on meaning like you do fundamental classes for one or two terms,
You draw the fundamentals and you can't really social dance, you're, you're going through the basics for a long time before you progress into something that you can use comfortably where it's not injuring the girl,
that's, that's one part and the other part is, it's quite intimidating for guys because,
and the gap between a fundamental intermedia for me is really big.
So when these new guys come into the scene, they go to the socials, there's like head movements happening,
It looks like it's a madhouse.
And then when you're just doing basics and I came up from that myself, like, I feel like I'm not adequate,
Like I'm not good enough to make the girls.
And I think ultimately that's what the guys all want to feel like they want the girls to have a good time.
So when they don't have that tool set when they don't have that skill, then they feel like, oh, this is either too hard for me or they're just the dances too hard.
So that's usually what happens, I think
yeah, I think in general the barrier of entry is a lot higher.
So most of, most of the people that I talked to that dance multiple styles,
they would say kizomba bachata is more on the easier side.
Like it's not easy. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's on the easier side when you compare it to like zouk and salsa.
Salsa is very difficult in different ways.
I think musicality is just like, you know, like there's like 12 instruments or something but like zouk is very,
very difficult in terms of like the body, like you have to be super accurate.
Like, you know, it's, you need to know when to catch the momentum, you know, you know, in order to be,
you know gentle, you know, understand how gravity works instead of like pushing someone down, you suspend them so they can fall down naturally.
Things like this. So what do you think can be done to like improve and grow the scene or what have you seen overseas?
What have they done to create like a positive questions.
Yeah, but sometimes it just takes you there.
I think, yeah, I think it is definitely challenging.
I wouldn't say bachata and kiz are easier.
I think all dances can be really difficult if you, I want to do it really, really well,
there's the learning curve is huge for all of them.
I think it's definitely harder to start, like what I was saying before because of what's required to have a good social dance guys.
I mean you can have a really nice fundamental stands where you just do basics, but because of variations for the beginners,
the lack of
I feel like they're just intimidated, like they don't feel like they're doing anything.
So it becomes really difficult.
Whereas I feel like the entry level where the variations of the basics and you can be quite musical with charter really quickly and then they can get in a lot quicker in the beginning.
But I think for us to get to the same level, you will need a lot longer to learn.
And in terms of growing the scene, I think, just based on what I've observed overseas and everywhere and I think every scene is different,
every scene has different obstacles and different good things going for them generally in, in a scene. I think there's a number of things that will push a scene to expand.
I think first of all we need to have a really good music in the scene and that's one of the best things in the, the biggest thing that draws people that want to dance,
if there's good music playing regardless of how bad and how good they are, they want to come out to dance. That's the first thing for me and the next thing is to have really good teachers and a good variety of teachers that
is constantly pushing the boundaries or building the scene in terms of inviting other people to come in and working together to push this thing forward.
and then it needs to have good exposure, so it needs to have some kind of connection to the other dance styles to bring other people in and also connection to,
not just latin dance connection to.
when I was overseas there would be like connection to contemporary dance, it's really, really common to yoga,
all of these practices, they kind of cross into Zork and then if we want to push things forward,
we need like different people to kind of branch into those areas to draw more different types of smokers into the scene as well.
And then other than that I would just say like regular socials always have a good crowd, always have people out dancing and I think that's,
those are the really key pass and other than that I would say like, you know, people doing their best to improve themselves all the times and I think if,
you know there are people who is happy to plateau and be happy with their own energy to enjoy, that's fine. I think just really look out for other people in terms of like social etiquette and also just because Lucas,
you know, it could be quite dangerous with the neck movement to really just look out for each other and then build like a safe and healthy dancing and I think will help bring this thing a little bit bigger.
Yeah, I think that that applies as well to to because I think like one of the biggest reasons is like etiquette number one, you know, like you being rough and then you're trying to like force certain movements and then a girl will kind of like leave the scene kind of like because like I keep getting injured,
you know, like there's only so many times that you know, someone is willing to get injured until they stop.
But also I think the music is super true.
So I think the music in the beginning I was because I was so loyal to much other, I was like I'm not gonna listen to any any other song.
but zouk is like the regular songs that you listen to, even like RNB. Sometimes even hip hop,
you can actually look too. So I didn't know that.
Like I thought it was just like boom boom boom boom boom, but it's actually very diverse and I would agree like the music could really be utilized and also like something that's unique to zouk is
the yoga, the meditation kind of people,
they don't really exist in bachata but at least in Sydney but in zouk is very relevant actually.
I think, yeah, I think it's because it's so diverse in terms of how it can be danced, it's branched into, you know,
R and B. Urban saw, you can go into contact improve and be really essential,
you know like because of all the different styles and different music, it can be danced so it can be branched out into all different practices.
So I think that's really really good for building a bigger scene.
What is difficult is then kind of uniting everybody together because then you're gonna have someone who's doing hip hop dancing the same social and someone who's into yoga spiritual
right, who wants to be
energy. that's something that's difficult to balance.
So it's like
But I think if we can do it right then just kind of unite them under the same umbrella, I think it's definitely doable.
I mean. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, that that's actually quite true.
That's me and Elvis, like I was really jamming onto Elvis is one of our friends, he would teach sometimes at the Brisbane Festival and different festivals.
Good friend of ours. But yeah, he's very hip hoppy and then songs that he likes I find that I struggled a bit and then songs that is a really slow,
we just don't have to do anything.
I really thrive.
Well he's probably a bit bored.
I've but anyways so that's the kind of like the teaching, the teacher aspect, like the scene itself now,
like the individuals like this is like very relevant as well to like, you know like the teach and stuff like that
what you can see with all the people that you've worked with over the years or are the
that helps them improve the fastest?
I think first of all, you have to be really passionate about the dance with anything that you do,
like there needs to be some kind of drive to learn.
Yeah, I think that that will overcome most of the obstacles that you have, like you could be, you know,
tone deaf or you could be like, you know, dancing two left foot,
but then if you really want to improve, if you want to get better it's just a matter of time.
Yeah, exactly, so it's about
and then I think the other part is just paying attention to your fundamentals, like I know there are different ways to move but then there's always structure and there's always technique in the beginning that helps you advance and understand and later on when something goes
wrong, you can have something to refer to.
And then the third I think super important thing is being open minded about everything because like we said before is so diverse right now when I was traveling and I was learning from everyone, I would literally be told complete opposite concepts back to So then it's really up to you to kind of realize that
not everything is right or wrong.
It's more like people have different bodies and these are the techniques that works best for them.
So then you have to be in the same mindset and be like, what can I use from this for me rather than saying this is wrong and this is right.
Therefore I'm gonna go with the right technique.
So I think that's really important as a student and I think that would be a really if I would say like is there a tribute that can help with progress?
I think that's definitely one of the biggest ones because so far, like it's just even here in Sydney,
we have so many different teachers with different teaching styles and yeah, so I wouldn't go approach and be like he's wrong and he's right,
I would just say, you know, this is something that I could use and this is something that I might not be used because my body's doesn't work like this.
And if you approach it like that, and I think then you will look at everyone's technique under the same umbrella saying right or wrong,
right or wrong. It's difficult
I think. Yeah, so that I think that's like one kind of like it's like the context like say for example, you know, hide and then things like this,
the body how the body works and maybe even like past experience like this, this follower, she's she's had this you know,
ballet dancing ballet or something like that.
It could it could make a difference as well.
But I think something in.
Right so bachata, It started in the dominican republic where it's predominantly like 90% like just footwork just like jamming to like beats with your feet.
And then it was brought over to America where it was, it was already the popular salsa,
the L. A. Style, the linear salsa.
And then bachata evolved to adopt like salsa movements.
And then there's like a lot of like that we just call it fusion.
Like I just call it fusion. There might be other words but it's just like salsa movement.
Then you dance it to like bachata songs and then I think one of the latest ones is sensual which is zouk like a lot of zouk movements and like I think the like what I see anyways from people that I've worked with is that if they've learned
So for example fusion like with like a lot of salsa like salsa, a lot of the movement is translatable.
But then when it's body movement sometimes you have to really you know like be open minded as you said like you really have to learn new things that will make these types of things work better and I think that's like what what what you know like what can hinder people like okay I already know
this. I don't really have the I don't really want to learn anything more so that they just use their old technique to learn new things and that might not work.
You know that's that's my that's my experience.
And also I think the other thing is just overall being aware of your body.
I think that's probably one of the biggest things that I found for some of the students progress relatively faster to the others and we are comparing someone who's had the exact same experience. The only thing that's different is perhaps that they've done a lot of sports in the past and they've,
you know, they know what to do with certain muscle groups, they've done certain things that have better control and they perhaps will have a head start because they know what to do
right? Actually. That's super like I wanted to add this in as well because I never had any dancing background.
But then I think what I found was really helpful was the fact that I used, you know like I was really into body building before and that was so like helpful in terms of like you know how to isolate certain certain muscles
and like in dancing when you have sometimes you can be
told like what
to do, but then if you don't have the ability to control it.
Like one of the funniest example small example is well me and my friend we like I like for example like he's so bad at isolating his muscles.
He can't raise one eyebrow.
Yeah he has to erase both and that's just like a silly silly example but it's like it's muscle isolation.
You know I
have so many people can't do that.
just don't think about raising eyebrows.
I don't really know how many people can or can't do it.
But I thought most people can do it but apparently some people can't can't actually do it.
But what about like opposite?
Like let's take out like if people don't really want to learn like they're happy with you know where they are, they enjoy social dancing,
they don't really need to learn that many more things and I think that's fine, you know like that's that's it.
You know you have to go out there and have fun.
But then some other people that you know they really wanna progress but then they put towing for some reason like what do you see that is like what could cause that
I think that I mean I went through so much of that myself so with my own experience like I can't really speak for everyone because everyone has a different learning journey and because of like what we said like everyone has a different
a skill set like we all have different experiences.
So for me when I plateau owed.
For me to break out of that first of all is actually just learning what I really didn't want to learn like a really discard that what I thought was completely useless for me turned out to be exactly what I needed a lot of times.
So I think when we have like a general conception, this is for me like with my teaching background to like I think we have a general conception,
we like how we should learn and what's the best for us and a lot of times we're not right because we always learned the same way, so when we plateau,
that probably reflects that the way you're learning
has not been effective. Yeah, so then we kind of have to go out of our way to reflect on that and see how do we branch out and change it,
so we can you know, learn something different or change the way that we approach
that like people that have come to you and I think like zouk is not really in in Sydney anyway, it's not really an entry level of dance,
people finds look through other dances like typically salsa and
that's how I that's that's me, like started with salsa and then like then from china,
having worked with them, maybe you don't even have to name, you know like oh this is the self sustaining because you know,
you might not know what it is, but like what adjustments that you see across the board is pretty common that in terms of technique, you have to apply to get better at zouk
based on what I've taught, like, people who has other dancing span,
like typically salsa and bachata, the first biggest thing, the first biggest adjustment is definitely stepping in a bigger size.
I find the way transfer when they've taken a step size bigger than their shoulder with bigger than what they're comfortable and then the whole thing kind of falls apart because they've never really stepped up big before.
So I would say definitely that the size of the seven then is correct, then it's linked to weight transfer,
like the way that is, I think it can be super subtle in that sense and it feels really different because I think ultimately zouk is about smoothing out your way transition.
Like all of the, all of the work that we do is making things seem like you're gliding on the floor, right? So I don't think that's super,
like, I don't know that well, but I feel like a lot of my students came to me found that really hard to adjust.
Oh yeah, for sure. So, like, I never knew that my knees were like so weak until I had to step really,
Yeah, I think that's one and then two.
I think for girls definitely have movement because it's such a new different concept that they really kind of have to understand the mechanics,
we want to be safe and to be enjoyable and the same goes for the guys because it's not something that you will lead consistently.
in the other dances and just overall, I feel like from teaching my students,
I have to stress a lot more about laden follow.
Like the concept of, you know, what it really means to be connected and to be let them followed.
I'm not saying any other dancers are not, but just from the students that come to me,
Maybe it's because my requirement for lead and follow is quite high because I prefer my book to be really connected.
So I stress on that. But I feel like that's something a lot of my students really, couldn't understand
really quickly in the beginning.
I think that kind of ties into actually because I feel like I grew in, not just in, but like Ciara because,
my understanding of like how, how things work, how the body works.
It's just increased and I think that's like a big part of it, if not all of it is just like lead and follow,
right? You know, like being able to communicate.
you know, like really subtle things you need to have like a really good understanding of lead and follow and that's what I find.
Yeah, actually it kinda helped.
Maybe maybe it's maybe it's just like how much you stress it.
But yeah, definitely that's, that's been very, very helpful and you know,
like if you're learning if you're into bachata, which like most of, most of the people follow this channel is to so you know,
to help to, you can do like some of the,
some of the girls that I dance with that has not yet.
So like most of the girls that I dance with have already converted to look, they started already,
the ones that that hasn't at least have given me defeat like, oh my God, that was the best dance tonight.
So that is like, like, you know the effect of zouk,
that's good guys, you need to do it incident and so kind of like transitioning to like last thing if in Sydney, I think this year your workshops are full.
Yes, so we're because of various reasons we can't secure weekly classes.
so most of our workshop happens on a sunday and we have workshop more or less every two weeks on a sunday, but because we sold packages or everything sold out up until december,
so hopefully next year we'll start regular weekday workshops so we can have more people coming in.
But otherwise if you want to check us out, we do release single tickets. If people drop out and you can just follow us on social media,
I'll put in the description
awesome. Like I'm teaching with Alana and my at the moment and she's, you know, she's
amazing. I mean he doesn't, he doesn't like to brag about people, but I do,
But I do. I just I wanted to I want to brag about her.
been a really good partnership for me.
And I think because I'm quite technical and I I want to explain things in detail and I think she's really, really on part with her and she knows if anything more than me in terms of how to explain things the same way.
I think really I was really lucky to find a partner like her in that sense, so definitely check us out.
if you have time awesome and hopefully,
we're not a hidden gem.
Yes, this is it.
This is like the turning point.
You're going to become mainstream hopefully.
But if you're not in Sydney, probably just follow their social media.
Like, like, I'm trying to push Dave to be more out there.
You know, maybe even Youtube like this and stuff like that and then, yeah, you know, like, you you get to learn whether whether you're in Sydney or not,
you'll you'll get to learn like, a lot
awesome. Yeah. Thank you.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you. All
right. And I'll see you in class
and I'll see you in the next video