Nathalia is a 28 year old Brazilian living in Sydney. She is a full time choreographer, confidence and social dancing coach, zouk-lambada instructor, dj and CEO of the Zouk Movement (an emerging dance school). She exudes such positive energy I had to ask her for an interview to understand more about her story and what makes her so passionate about what she does.
“What I love the most about zouk? That I feel so sexy, powerful, and safe to surrender when I dance. I don’t get to feel like that at any other time in my day-to-day life.”
With her mother’s influence as a dance teacher, Nathalia started dancing since an early age in Brazil, taking classes in jazz, ballet and contemporary. As a teenager, she started to learn bolero, soltinho and samba de gafieira and forró. Later on, she started with occasional zouk classes during university, when she was studying dentistry. Captivated by the sensuality and freedom of this dance style, Nathalia joined Renata Peçanha’s (who created zouk with Adilio Porto) dance school to immerse herself in this dance with the acclaimed instructors Renata Peçanha and Jorge Peres.
The first time Nathalia came to Australia, in 2008, she spent six months on a study trip – a gift provided by her grandmother in return for being admitted into one of the best universities in Brazil. She fell in love with the country and decided to move back to Australia in 2015. The day after she moved back to Australia, at the biggest social zouk party in Sydney (Friday Practice, ran by Heidi Anastasia) Brad Taylor first met her dancing and invited her to teach with him at one of the most renowned Latin Dance schools in Australia: Latin Motion.
As she fell deeply in love with the nature of teaching and coaching people; dj-ing and choreographing; she slowly transitioned from her full time work as a dentist, to part time, and then eventually letting that go altogether to follow her passion in zouk and in mentoring people to excel themselves in their dancing skills. When I asked her what’s the biggest lesson she tries to teach her students –
“I teach them how to feel happy, sexy, powerful and free when they’re dancing. That’s the way I feel… it’s the best feeling in the world, and I teach them how to feel that too.”
Nathalia only left her work in dentistry four months ago. She admits it is risky to be a business owner. However she realised it had to be done, as she was in high demand to teach private classes in Sydney and at zouk festivals and events around the world. Her biggest goal through her dancing career is –
“For gender relations to be more natural, comfortable and enjoyable. In partner dancing, we connect through touch, people out there are dying for more touch, and zouk creates a safe and structured environment for it. Men learn how to take control in a caring way and women learn to be sexy, powerful and also to surrender.”
Nathalia will be launching her own zouk company in Sydney next year – Zouk Movement – with her dance partner, business partner and best friend, Kosta Walasek. Her main goal is to bring zouk social dancing into the Australian culture to build a bigger and stronger Australian community, because in her view dance brings genders together, bonds humans and makes us stronger.
I asked Nathalia about her thoughts on the biggest problem facing young women today –
The hashtag movement #meetoo has been a huge thing now and I’m so glad we have space to talk about it and raise global awareness.
At the same time, young women are scared to relate to men. Being sexy and vulnerable for example, is considered dangerous.
So I can see a big struggle for genders to bond and have a relationship because young women and men are too scared of relating to each other.
On one piece of advice that Nathalia would provide to a young girl today –
“I would tell her to join zouk! It will certainly empower her to connect to her sensuality, sexuality and emotions; it will teach her to be powerful, sensual and also confident in being vulnerable. Just like it taught me. And I speak truly from my heart to her heart.”
Chiara is the Melbourne-based founder of CIIARA.