• Fortaleza Dance + Arts

What are some of the signature steps of Lambada / Lambazouk?

A) Boneca (‘rag doll’) is a step created by Didi dos Santos, his partner Rebecca and partly developed by Braz do Santos. It primarily involves shoulder movements, so even though the arms may be rotated in a kind of ‘windmill’ fashion, both arm and head movements actually emanate from the shoulders. Styles of Boneca vary, so you will see very authentic, Porto Seguro styles from Braz, Didi, Josy Borges, Bebe, and those who have developed the more African-based style. Those dancers who are European-based often perform Boneca in a more upright fashion with less ‘lilt’ in the mid-section or bending. Boneca can be danced in hold, or separate - led by ‘Wi-Fi’. To execute Boneca one must first have a firm grounding in basic steps, especially lateral and diagonal. For the follower, the opposite mirroring of the leader’s movements must be as exact as possible.

B) Chicote (‘whip’) Pronounced ‘shi-kotch’, this is a fairly sharp head movement led on certain accents in the music (usually ‘1’ or ‘5’). It is often taught preparing the head forward on ‘8’, thrusting back on ‘1’, then a slower return. But there are several musical moments when Chicote can be executed. There is specific accompanying footwork.

C) Wi-Fi. This stunning, advanced technique in which partners dance without physical contact – sometimes at a distance - gives the observer the impression that the lead and follow are happening by magic. But very solid, advanced technique is required, involving perfect concentration and exquisite following. Various types of Boneca, Chicote, and spins can be employed, as well as basic steps. Essential basic elements of Wi Fi are the Basic 1 step (stepping on the spot), the lateral Basic, and the front and back diagonal Basic step, plus Soltinho.

D) Soltinho. This is a step that travels in a circle, usually around a leader, and usually in a clockwise direction. There are variations in this movement, but the basic Soltinho is three steps forward starting on the right foot, then a three-step turn to the left with a side or diagonal step preparation on ‘5-6’ and the turn on ‘7’. This turn should ideally start and finish facing the leader. Soltinho is utilized in many Lambazouk situations – including during Wi-Fi, when a dancer is leading more than one follower, and as a staple style of a ‘Birthday Dance’.

E) Stealing. Lambazoukers love to steal each others’ partners. This becomes an exciting game on the dance floor and is thoroughly enjoyed by dancers and observers alike – but there are strict rules about how to correctly steal a follower from a leader (e.g. always keep the rhythm, and steal a follower from a leader’s right side, and steal a leader from a follower’s left side). For the follower, it is important to continue dancing with the first leader until it is very clear that the new leader has fully replaced the previous one. The follower never turns to face the robber until that moment – even if she would prefer to dance with him! In Brazil stealing can take on all kinds of flavors, from playful to quite aggressive. Leaders often enjoy resisting the challenge from a would-be robber.

F) Partner Swapping. This is a common style of play on a Lambazouk dance-floor and it adds to the fun and skill of the dance. It is usually initiated by two leaders first making eye contact, then deftly swapping positions to dance with the other follower, always utilizing correct timing at the correct moment, and always maintaining rhythm. If there is a gap between leaders, the follower has choices: to continue the pattern initiated by the first leader, or segue into Soltinho or some creative turns - always keeping the beat and watching carefully for the new lead.

G) Multiple Partners. One Lambazouk leader can dance with one or more followers. Most common variation is one leader with two, three or four followers. Advanced dancers may dance in a variety of combinations, such as two leaders with one follower. Sometimes one follower dances in the center of a circle (‘Roda’) of many leaders who take it in turns to dance with him or her. The most skilled Lambazouk leaders can employ different leads in each hand. For followers sharing a leader, Soltinho is a staple step, but other common steps are ‘Train’ in which dancers line up behind each other like a close conga line. From the Train they can be led to execute Boneca all together, Chicote, Cambre (backwards dip) and other advanced steps.

H) Lamba-specific Cambres


[ Please note: in the interest of clarity - ''Lambazouk'' is another name for the modern day ''Lambada'', and the two names are interchanged regularly by the industry's noted authorities. They have the same meaning and refer to the original Porto Seguro-style of Zouk Lambada. ''Brazilian Zouk'' typically refers to the Rio-style of Zouk Lambada. ]


Braz dos Santos is an internationally noted and respected authority on Brazilian Lambada. He is the Founder of the American Lambada Organisation, a sought after instructor at congresses and dance schools around the world, and a pioneer of the dance as an art form and discipline. The international touring show ''Brazouka'', choreographed by celebrated artist Arlene Phillips, was inspired by his life story.