I know you dance a few different styles of dance, but … is Zouk your favorite (smiles)?
Oooh that is a loaded question! Currently, yes, Zouk is my favourite. I guess that is pretty clear to people who have met me. (smiles)
What it is about Zouk that draws you to it?
When I think about what draws me to Zouk, I think first about what draws me to dance in general, and a few things come to mind. To me, dance is about passion, connection, emotion and technique. I was drawn to Zouk because it really resonated with me in those three areas which are important to me. I have found a new level of passion in myself and my dance through my journey so far in Zouk. I am passionate about the music, my personal development, the growth of the Zouk community, and I love learning more about myself and others through this dance.
Great points! You mentioned connection. How would you describe the connection in Zouk compared to other dances?
The connection you can have with your partner when you are truly in sync is absolutely mind blowing, magical even. There is no feeling quite like it. It’s liberating, expressive, and really appeals to your senses.
I also love how challenging this dance is, on many levels. It’s not only difficult to learn the technical concepts of the dance such as frame, head movements and responsiveness, but it also challenges you to really open up.
Oh. I love where you are going with this (smiles). Can you explain more what you mean by “opening up”?
Dancing Zouk can be very intimate, very close, and there has to be a certain level of trust between you and your partner for it to work. When I first started dancing Zouk, I didn’t realize how transformative it would be for me in other areas of my life. There are so many fundamental lessons I’ve learned that have directly impacted how I talk and act outside of dance. The fact that this dance can make you grow as a person as well as a dancer is extraordinary.
Well, as I have mentioned to you a few times, I am so impressed at how quickly you have picked up Zouk. Your level in the dance has just shot up in a short span of time. What do you think has helped you improve so quickly?
Thank you. I appreciate you saying that! (smiles)
I think the most important thing that has helped me improve is to try and maintain a positive, healthy mindset about learning.
What tips would you give to others who are learning, as dance is not always an easy process?
It’s helpful to remember to enjoy the process and your learning journey. You might not be able to understand and implement everything right away. But be kind to yourself when you are not able to get something. If you continue to work at it, you eventually will get it!
Also, strive to always learn more. Make goals, and once you have achieved them, celebrate! Then, make new goals. (smiles) There’s always something new to learn, and that’s the beauty of it.
Nicely put! And what would you say to those who want to take their dancing to the next level?
My advice for those who would like to improve is to be open to all the opportunities available to you. Go to social parties and take all the classes you can. Never underestimate the value of a beginner class, and take it several times. I learn something new every time.
If you feel like you’ve “learned it all,” take the class, but try taking on the opposite role (if you’re usually a follow, learn to lead. Or if you’re usually a lead, try a class as a follow). If you’re interested in assisting or teaching, pay attention to how certain steps or movements are being explained or broken down. You can even work on being a better lead or follow when you are dancing with someone who is newer to the dance.
Brilliant! I think all the readers- dancers of any level- can really benefit from your words.
Thank you. And I want to add that this isn’t exclusive to Zouk only. All dance and fitness classes teach you about the endless capabilities of your body. Explore and push those limits. The more you familiarize yourself with how the body works, and how your body works, the more you can use it to express yourself when you’re dancing.
Wow! I definitely picked the right person for this feature (smiles). You are a beautiful dancer who has grown so quickly with your dancing, and you are so eloquent with how you describe these details in word. You also add so much to our scene socially. Your friendly, genuine, and welcoming nature is infectious. It helps to make others want to join in and feel included and comfortable. Plus, you are so much fun!
Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot to me (smiles).
It is just the truth and a huge reason I chose you for this feature. What do you think allows you to just be yourself and be so considerate to everyone around you, rather than getting caught up in a competitive, self absorbed mentality that I see some people fall into in the dance scene?
Honestly, I try to reciprocate the love and kindness the community and the dance has given to me. I want everyone to feel welcome to learn in an open and safe environment and to be able to dance freely. When a group of people that respect and inspire each other come together to dance, it can be one of the most beautiful things in the world.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to be patient, kind and open to all dancers. We need to take care of each other in and out of the dance scene.
This is not only a mentality I try to maintain within the context of dance but in all aspects of life as well (smiles).
Yes, I definitely feel that about you. Where do think this, and/or your inclusive attitude towards everyone in the dance community comes from?
I think my attitude towards dancing and the dance community stems from my passion for the dance. When I was younger I was actually quite shy. I was afraid of meeting people and trying new things, especially dance. I was always interested in it but was too afraid to embarrass myself.
Once I finally found the courage to try some dance classes, I immediately fell in love. Because dance made such a big impact on my life, it affected the way I interacted and connected with others around me- first in the dance community, and then outside of it as well. I wanted to meet more people, dance with more people, and share my experiences with people.
I love how something new came out of dance that you didn’t necessarily expect.
Yes. Dancing has taught me so much about life and has brought so much joy to me that I want everyone to experience the impact dance can potentially have in their lives. This has really brought me out of my shell, given me the chance to connect with others, and the opportunity to open up to new experiences.
What would you like to see more of at the Zouk socials or in classes or practices?
I would love for Zouk to be more present in other socials so that those who have never seen it or tried it have an opportunity to check it out!
Oh. Get more people Zouk addicted. I like it (smiles). What keeps you inspired and encouraged in dance?
I think the support of my home community is what keeps me encouraged. I feel so fortunate to have such an incredible support system right here at home in Vancouver. My instructors, classmates and other dancers in the scene are so generous in their time and feedback. I’ve been able to grow so much as a dancer and as a person because of them. Yourself included, Tasleem (smiles)
Well, I can honestly say that I learn so much from you as well- from watching you dance, to taking in the little suggestions that you make. And I also admire your authenticity. You remind me to stay real rather than trying to be someone else. How do you stay grounded personally while learning and advancing in your dancing?
Staying grounded is surprisingly easy. Just go to a festival outside of your city and see the kind of talent that is out there! (smiles). It can be overwhelming and even discouraging at times but I try to use it as a way to push myself to be better, to learn more and to give more.
Consistently challenge yourself to dance with experienced dancers so that you can continue to push your limits and learn new skills.
I know you have been getting out to some festivals in the past few months. Is there a festival at the top of your wish list to get to in the future?
I have not been to a festival outside of North America yet, and the one I really want to go to is the Dutch International Zouk Congress. I’m actually going this year!
Wow ! I am so excited for you. I love how you just go for it. You are very inspiring. I can’t wait to hear about it and to just continue to see your dancing and enthusiasm grow.
Aww… that means so much to me. Thank you so much for reaching out to me to be a feature on your blog. What an honour! I feel so grateful to have you as a friend, and to share this with you and whoever else this may reach.