Dança Alegria Community Guidelines
Being a member of Dança Alegria, and the Zouk community in general, requires a certain level of etiquette and common understanding. Here are some guidelines to encourage your practice as well as your involvement in our community. This document gives details to set the tone of best practice with one another on, and around the dance floor. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
Danca Alegria is dedicated to providing a safe, inclusive, and comfortable dance experience for everyone, regardless of dance skill or background, sex, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, ability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or any other characteristic or trait.
Safety on the Dancefloor:
1) Always invite your partner to do a movement; never force your partner to do movements they cannot yet execute, or that they are not yet comfortable with.
2) Warm-up at the beginning of your dance as an individual, in respect to your partner.
3) Do not lead a new dancer into head movement.
4) Respect your dance partner’s boundaries both stated and implied. If your partner asks you not to do something, verbally or physically, don’t do it.
5) Teaching on the social floor is discouraged as it often leads to students trying moves that are dangerous or above their skill level, practising together is, however, encouraged.
Respect on the Dancefloor:
6) If someone says “no” to a dance, respect their answer and strive to not take it personally; there are many reasons to say “no” to a dance that have nothing to do with the person who is asking. Equally, we encourage you to be mindful as to how you express this “no” to the person asking.
7) While close physical connection is a beautiful part of Brazilian Zouk, it is also non-essential for a fun, connected, and enjoyable dance. Carefully gauge your partner’s comfort level and never force close body contact.
8) The social floor is not the place to give feedback to your partner. Enjoy the dance at whatever level your partner is at, and do not provide them with suggestions for improvement. Feedback can be disheartening in a space meant for enjoyment of the dance. While it can be tempting to ask for feedback when dancing with a more experienced or skilled dancer or teacher, bear in mind that they might just want to enjoy that dance with you.
9) No forms of harassment will be tolerated. Harassment includes inappropriate verbal comments or verbal abuse, deliberate intimidation, bullying, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe on the dance floor at one of our events, please find a Danca Alegria Board Member. They can provide you with support.
If anyone engages in harassing or unsafe behavior, Board members will take any action they deem appropriate. Anyone asked to stop any harassing or unsafe behavior is expected to comply immediately.
- Please turn up on time to workshops! Warm-ups are as valuable as the rest of the class as it is time for conditioning. Key information will be missed for latecomers. Please be mindful to the teacher(s) and fellow students, that it will slow down the class build up if information needs to be repeated.
- Personal hygiene and grooming are important in partner dancing – brush your teeth, throw in a chewing gum and bring a (or multiple) fresh shirts
- Vereins workshops – don’t speak during class, unless in practice rounds – you can miss vital info applicable to your development and it disturbs the class for both teachers and fellow students
- Please give instructor’s time to rest during their allocated break time. It is vital they have a breather in order to continue the workshops
Brazilian Zouk is a very technically complex dance, therefore Danca Alegria works diligently to ensure that all of our students dance safely and responsibly. If advanced movements are executed without proper technique, they can be dangerous. We ask that all students refrain from incorporating advanced movements into their social dancing at DA events until they are sure to be able to do the movement properly.
Advanced movement types include:
- Cambre (a dip)
- Balao (circular head movement while traveling)
- Boneca (circular head movement)
- Tilted Turns (turns where the follow is tilted to one side; traveling or in-place)
- Frango Assado (Roasted Chicken- head movement where follow’s head stays tilted on one axis)
- One-footed spins
- Other Head Movements
Zouk movements are meant to feel comfortable – it is your responsibility not to have to endure movements that are uncomfortable, for any reason. The comfort of both partners is always more important than accomplishing the dance or certain moves
DA instructors reserve the right to ask any student not to lead or follow particular movement types if they deem the execution unsafe or dancer inadequately trained. We hope to help all students explore the wide range of movement that Brazilian Zouk offers, but we emphasize strong foundations .
Please use your full range of senses on the dance floor to avoid accidental collisions and injuries. Both partners are responsible to stay attentive and prevent, to the best of their ability, collisions with other dancers. Oftentimes, the Follow is at a higher risk of collisions. The Lead needs to pay extra attention to avoid their Follower being led into a collision. It is especially important to keep floor-craft in mind when leading advanced movement types while the Followers head and neck are in a particularly vulnerable state. At socials that are crowded, we advise avoiding leading or following head movements.
Followers should be mindful of not changing or increasing the actual direction, size and speed of the movements being led. If you notice or fear that a crash is going to happen if you follow the lead, you can follow the general movement while modifying the direction, size or speed in a way that will avoid the crash. This technique can also be used to make any kind of movement more comfortable for you, for example, slowing down head movements. Be mindful of big arm movements in crowded rooms.
Danca Alegria is not liable for any injuries that occur at our events and the student understands that they take responsibility for their own personal safety in regard to injuries.
Safety on the Dance Floor: Personal Boundaries
As a dancer, every dance is a gift you are giving. You are not obligated to dance with anyone, and you can turn down any dance or end it early for any reason. You are the ultimate authority on your own boundaries, which may be different with different people and which may change over time. You can always tell a partner that they’ve crossed a boundary, or let a DA Board member know.
As a dancer, every dance is a gift you are also receiving. You are not entitled to dance with anyone and should not take being turned down as a personal insult. You should treat every dance you receive with respect and recognize that your partner is the ultimate authority of their own boundaries and physical safety. Belittling or denying your partner’s experience is not appropriate. Ask consent for anything you think may cross a boundary. We recommend apologizing if you think you crossed a boundary or if your partner expressed that you did.
It is important to recognize that people dance or are part of the community for different reasons: For example, some seek to improve their dance while others might just want to enjoy the social aspect of the dance instead. There are many valid reasons and some people’s motivation might be different from yours. Try to respect them.
On saying “no”
Mustering up the courage to ask someone for a dance only to be told “no” can be discouraging. In the same way, having to say no to someone can be difficult and sometimes people will avoid refusing dances in order not to hurt the person asking.
Having to say no to someone can be hard but it can be helpful for both people to remember that saying “no” actually also benefits the other person: Oftentimes, people can tell when their partner is not enjoying the dance. A gentle no can be very respectful. When someone knows you are comfortable refusing a dance with them for whatever reason, they can except the times you are saying “yes” to be genuine. This leaves them free from constantly trying to guess whether now would be an acceptable time to ask or to second-guess whether you are actually enjoying the dance: They can take your words at face value.
This also applies to other boundaries and situations: Ideally, your partner wants you to be comfortable during all dances and interactions. If you are comfortable speaking up, your partner can be at ease without constantly wondering whether they might unintentionally be crossing an unknown boundary. Of course, as explained further down, this does not mean that everything is fair game until stated otherwise. It is better to ask when in doubt.
While it is people’s responsibility to state and stand in for their boundaries such as saying no to dances, non-verbal clues are also a form of communication. For example, if you have a feeling that the person you asked for a dance is only saying agreeing out of “politeness” you can try asking again and letting them know that it is okay to refuse the dance. If you have asked someone multiple times and they said no to you every time, it might be better to give them some space.
In Brazilian Zouk, there are specific movement types or techniques that not all students will be comfortable with. We ask that all students be mindful and respectful of their partner’s comfort level as it pertains to physical proximity, body contact, hand placement, or any movements that cross a partner’s specific personal boundaries. You do not need to allow any movement etc. you are uncomfortable with, even if it is common and generally considered acceptable in the community.
Dance is a conversation, and while we encourage students to build a strong awareness of their partner’s non-verbal cues, the easiest way to ascertain your partner’s comfort level with any particular move is to ask. As a highly suggested guideline, please ask a new partner if they are comfortable with close embrace (or other intimate moves) before attempting to lead or follow it. Additionally, be respectful that a familiar dance partner’s boundaries are flexible and they reserve the right to change their mind about their comfort levels at any point.
While close physical connection is a beautiful part of Brazilian Zouk, it is also non-essential for a fun, connected, and enjoyable dance. Any movements that are typically done in close proximity to one’s partner can be modified and still lead/followed enjoyably and comfortably. If you are confused about issues on connection and intimacy in dance and want to adapt the dance form to fit your personal comfort level, this is something that can be worked on in (a private) class, for example!
Complaints about forced/ unwanted physical intimacy, boundary crossing, or excessive verbal persuasion to try intimate holds or connection will not be tolerated and may result in your removal from DA events.
We encourage people to actively seek out (first-time) beginners and invite them to dance. Being new to the community and dance can make it hard to talk to or invite people for a dance. Every single one of us was once a beginner. However, at times dancing with beginners can feel like a lot to “give” or even like a chore you have to do. You do not need to feel obligated to say “yes” to everyone all the time. Try seeking them out when you feel that you have the (emotional) capacities and can actually enjoy the dance instead. Engaging in personal conversation or informing them about classes, messenger groups or events they are interested in are different ways of welcoming them in the community.
The same way around, beginner dancers do not have to feel grateful or accept teaching during the dance when more advanced dancers ask them to or accept a dance. There are many things you can bring to the (dance) table that can make you an enjoyable dance partner aside from dance skills. If the other person accepted the dance you don’t have to worry too much about your skills, simply enjoying the dance is enough.
No forms of harassment will be tolerated. Harassment includes inappropriate verbal comments or verbal abuse, deliberate intimidation, bullying, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Online harassment between students in our dance school will also not be tolerated and unjust defamation, verbal intimidation, and bullying that is brought to the attention of the DA Staff will result in punitive actions against the aggressor.
Harassment is not always done intentionally. If anyone engages in harassing or unsafe behavior, Danca Alegria staff may take any action they deem appropriate. Anyone asked to stop any harassing or unsafe behavior is expected to comply immediately. Anyone who does not comply immediately may be sanctioned or expelled from Danca Alegria without a refund, at the discretion of the DA staff.
If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a DA staff member immediately. We will respect the reporter’s and/or victim’s anonymity wishes when dealing with harassment claims.
While at a DA event, we are happy to help with immediately addressing concerns and otherwise assisting anyone experiencing harassment, to feel safe for the duration of the event. We value your attendance and your safety.
Giving Feedback to Fellow Students
We are all responsible for creating a good dance environment. As such, please do not offer unsolicited advice to fellow dancers. Each person’s learning style is different. Unsolicited advice can often be distracting from or disheartening for a student’s learning.
Classes and workshops are an ideal time to work out issues with a movement by relying on the instructing staff present. While you may have the best intentions when giving feedback to your partner, it can often be misinterpreted as unkind or condescending, or may simply not actually address the issue at hand. If we see behavior or receive complaints about unsolicited advice or unkind comments on the dance floor, you will be warned by our staff and given better tools for working with your partner. DA reserves the right to take more severe punitive measures (as seen fit by our staff) if the behavior persists.
If you are having difficulty executing a movement during a practica, we suggest the following verbiage to ensure you remain kind and respectful to your partner:
“I am having trouble with the move, how does it feel to you?”
“Is there anything I can do to make the move more comfortable?”
“I am not quite feeling what you are leading. Can we please try it again?”
“I would love to have an instructor watch us to see if we are doing it correctly, do you mind?”
Feedback on the social floor is not appropriate unless specifically requested by your partner. A social is a space where students are meant to enjoy and experience the dance at whatever technical level they are at. Giving feedback on the social dance floor can provide a bad experience for the receiver of said feedback. If you have concerns about someone’s safety when dancing socially, please get in touch with a DA staff or task force member.
Additionally, teaching on the social dance floor is not encouraged. Dance at whatever your partner’s level is and do not try to teach them more advanced movements. This can often lead to injury if the movement is not taught correctly or fully understood by both parties.
While it can be tempting to ask for feedback when dancing with a more experienced or skilled dancer or teacher, bear in mind that they might just want to enjoy that dance with you. Please refrain from giving unsolicited feedback, except if it’s safety related.
While teaching on the dance floor is discouraged, all of the above does not apply when something is making you uncomfortable or a movement/hold is actually painful. In those cases please try to let your partner know so they can adjust. Dance should always be comfortable, and pain-free!