This video is all about the basics of zouk body movement. I made it when I realized that every time I talked about zouk it would simply be better to show you.
Here it is:
There are two primary ways in which you need to be able to manipulate your torso in order to follow zouk. One is what I call horizontal movement, and the other is off-axis. In this video I demonstrate what each looks like and explain how it works.
Horizontal movement is more common to see in other dances, as it occurs while standing completely upright. It isolates the rib cage and moves it forward, side, back, and side, often in a circular motion, though not exclusively. It is important to note moreover that when forward, the ribcage should feel someone “open” and “convex,” and when back, the rib cage is “closed” or “collapsed” and “concave.” This enables smooth circular motion.
Off axis movement is that which characterizes zouk in particular. In this movement, the right cage does not move laterally, but instead hinges down to the front, to the side, up and to the back, and to the other side. When this hinge occurs, the line of the spine follows the movement. You could imagine a flower, for example, where the stem arcs in one directly smoothly from a certain point.
When you hinge forward, your rib cage is in a ‘collapsed’ position, and your head is in line with your spine. As you rotate to the side the ribs open up to the planar, and the head follows the spine such that it is tilted to the side. Then you arch back, and your ribs should feel ‘open’ with your shoulders pressed back to a degree. Then you come around to the other side, leveling the shoulders, and again down and collapsing the ribcage to the front.
High quality off-axis movement is the key to keeping your hair out of your face while dancing zouk, since if you keep your head in line with your spine and the arc of your motion, hair will naturally fall up and over off the face.
You can practice these motions on your own, which will give you more flexibility, range of motion, and ease of being led. You will also, of course, get plenty of practice on the dancefloor.