Kendra Haynes grew up dancing ballet, jazz and salsa. But when she saw the fluid movements of Brazilian zouk, a dance similar to lambada, it was love at first sight.
"Ever since then, I did everything I could to learn it," says Haynes, 26. "I made it my mission to promote zouk in the U.S. I want everybody to be able to learn zouk right here in Miami."
This week, Haynes gets closer to completing her mission through the first International Brazilian Zouk Festival, which she is organizing with her dance partner Fabiano "Nyx" Trofino and zouk dancer Stefan Schuepfer. The festival, which will run from Thursday through Sunday at the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort in Sunny Isles, will host dancers from Brazil, Spain, Australia and throughout the United States.
While salsa took over the local night scene, zouk stayed somewhat in the shadows. Typically danced to Caribbean rhythms, zouk is sensual. The woman spins through the man's arms while flipping her hair and rolling her head.
"The unique thing about zouk is that it's so about the connection," Haynes says. "Every movement is led by contact and connection, so there are infinite ways to move. The hair flow is an extension of the woman's movement and creates beautiful lines."
The festival will offer workshops for beginning, intermediate and professional dancers in soul zouk, raw zouk and head motions, among others. Every night of the festival will close with a themed zouk party, including superhero, masquerade ball, and pajama and lingerie. Sunday will feature an all-day bikini bash beach party. Professional dancers will perform nightly, and student teams will take the dance floor on Saturday for a national competition. On Monday, the festival will offer extra workshops at the VK Dance studio, 3363 NE 163rd St., Suite 101, and an afterparty at C Lounge and Cigar Bar, 3945 NE 163rdSt., both in North Miami Beach.
"This has been my dream since five years ago, when I first saw zouk, to bring a congress of this quality and this size to the U.S.," Haynes says. "I can't wait to see the look on everybody's faces when they are dancing."
The festival will run Feb. 20-23 at the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort, 16701 Collins Ave., in Sunny Isles Beach. Tickets cost $110-$208. Call 865-712-5600865-712-5600 or go to ImZouk.com.
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