dZouk artistic director and founder Darius Zi fell in love with Zouk after a long and prestigious career dancing salsa internationally. After performing with Salsa Team Canada in 2009, he hungered for a new challenge. He discovered Zouk during a salsa congress and was immediately hooked. Recruiting avid salsa dancer and competitive athlete Kaylyn Morton as his first Zouk partner, Darius traveled the world to learn Zouk from the masters and bring it back to Canada.
In 2010, dZouk was born. After much hard work and dedication, dZouk presented Zouk Lambada on stage for the first time at the Toronto Bachata Festival. In 2011 and 2012, dZouk represented Canadian Zouk in Vancouver, Prague, Amsterdam and Brazil. dZouk also published a video in which its dancers perform on the streets during their first European tour.
Following these successes, dZouk established their first dance troupe. The original troupe consisted of highly trained professional level dancers from the city of Toronto. These represented a variety of dance schools and dance genres, coming together under the leadership of Darius to create the original “Fire Worshipers” routine.
The success of this first group choreography led to even more great things. The second generation of dZouk troupe, created in 2012, consists of professional and semi-pro dancers from the Toronto area. This group has experimented fusing traditional Brazilian Zouk with genres such as Indian Classical Dance, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Salsa. Their routines “I’m With You”, “Celebration of Life: Tinka”, “Dream of Glory”, and “Return of the Fire Worshippers” have garnered critical acclaim. This dance troupe has represented Canadian Zouk in Prague, across Canada, and even the Caribbean island of Bermuda.
During this time, Darius also began developing a reputation as a high-level Zouk DJ. He has been invited to DJ in Europe, the US and Canada at major congresses and events. Additionally, he gained worldwide recognition for his ability to train dancers in technique and musicality, even being invited to teach in Europe in the summer of 2013. This momentum is helping to establish dZouk beyond Canada; it is becoming an internationally acclaimed dance organization.
In a decision to expand beyond the stage in 2013, dZouk began offering educational programs for the public. It is dZouk’s dream to see a Zouk revolution! It is because of this dream that dZouk offers programs for social dancing, stage training, a scholarship program and future instructor training.
In 2014, dZouk brought Vision Dance Encounter to Toronto from May 16-19. This is a non-profit event in support of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). As part of this event, they trained the first blind and partially sighted Brazilian Zouk dancers to perform and social dance. This is also the first West Coast Swing – Zouk fusion event in North America, bringing superstars from both genres to educate the dance community. It was a resounding success, and plans are already underway for next years’ event!
Vision Dance Encounter was also the debut of dZouk’s first feature-length dance production called “See Inside Me”. The production featured international stars Kadu & Larissa, Jordan & Tatiana, and five routines performed by dZouk’s various dancers. It received great acclaim from all attendees, and dZouk looks forward to future avenues to display the work.
Since Vision, dZouk has performed ‘See Inside Me’ at the Markham Flato Theatre, and is also gearing up to future performances in May 2015 at Canada Zouk Congress and October 2015 at the 2nd Vision Dance Encounter. dZouk is also working on a new full-scale production called ‘Cirque du Zouk’, to be premiered at dZouk’s next major event: Canada Zouk Congress.
2014 also saw the launch of dZouk’s innovative Zouk University program, designed to give students flexibility, structure, and fast-tracked learning at an affordable price with lots of individual feedback. Specifically, the program features an ‘Undergraduate’ degree and a ‘Masters’ degree, each with their own curriculum focus.
dZouk is excited for its future, and cannot wait to see what is still to come!