When Marcos Fonseca first came to Hong Kong, little did he know that he was going to be part of a dynamic force that will cause ripples in the latin dance scene in Asia. Along with Emily Ma, both dancers co-founded RioZouk Asia (featured in our February 2013 issue), introducing and teaching Zouk around the world including Japan, Malaysia, United Kingdom, and Taiwan.

If you still do not know who Marcos Fonseca is, he has long established himself a name in the Latin dance scene. Hailing from the colourful city of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, Marcos has been dancing since he was 9-years-old, thanks to the exposure of the vibrant dance culture in Brazil. His talents outside dance include professional participation in sports like Judo, swimming and rowing, as a result of being a graduate in Physical Education. Most notably, he was a professor at numerous prestigious health clubs like Esporta, L.A. Fitness, Health Land and Reebok Sport Club, not to mention his active participation in various sports and fitness TV and radio programs. Marcos’ love for fitness and dance has brought him around the world in 44 countries teaching Cardio-Zouk, Brazilian Zouk, Lambada, Hip Hop, Latin rhythms, Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba for more than 20 years, a passion that is no doubt his life-long dream as he describes: “I love to make people happy through teaching.”

Marcos was in London for 3 years developing Brazilian Zouk and was one of the prominent creators of RioZouk Fusion which grew widely popular in UK. His meeting with Emily two years ago while teaching Brazilian Zouk in Hong Kong resulted in the co-founding of RioZouk Asia later that year.

Marcos’ dynamism and enthusiasm in his rhythmic dance choreography are well received by many of his students who regard him as a respectable mentor and one of the key figures in shaping the latin dance landscape over the years. There is so much about this man that we at VDL were so keen to find out about his life in Hong Kong and his dance journey, and he best said it himself:

Who are some of the dancers that have influenced you the most?
Fred Astaire, John Travolta, Patrick Swayze, MC hammer, Michael Jackson…they have been such great inspiration for us dancers.

Were you nervous settling in Asia at first? How did you adjust to the cultural change without losing your Latin roots?
Man…TOUGH question! Nervous? Nah! I have been teaching in 44 countries and lived in 9, so adapting is easy but I took as long time to understand the cultural shock in Asia. It is really easy when you go to a place like Hong kong where you have so many foreigners so you don’t need to adapt as much but when you have to teach the local people, then it’s different. It is really hard, like you have to think upside-down. I believe one shouldn’t change or lose his/her roots. Every nation needs a different spice to make their life more alive.

Is there a supportive community of Latin Americans in Hong Kong?
I don’t see so many Latin communities in Hong Kong and the majority of Latin people are here are business people. In my view, the HK government should support more of the Latin culture.

RioZouk Asia founders Marcos Fonseca and Emily Ma in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

RioZouk Asia founders Marcos Fonseca and Emily Ma in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Do you find Asians in general open to the Latin culture?
I think so!! In the same way we see their culture totally different than ours, they in turn see a lot of weird things in ours as well. There are a lot of people very open to embracing the Brazilian and Latin culture, and sometimes I think some of them are more Brazilian than me! However, I have many of my students who have no idea about Brazil. I think few people has knowledge about Brazil and Latin people. When they know something about Brazil, they only remember the Brazilian Carnival, Brazilian football and its famous football players.

What are some of the things you miss from home and how often do you visit?
I try to go back every 2 or 3 years. It’s so far away and I have to travel all year to teach everywhere. There are many countries i still want to explore, but I do miss Brazil’s sense of humour, the fruits and my beach. I miss Ipanema and Copacabana a lot.

What recommendations can you give to a Latin American looking to move to Asia?
Come…what are you waiting for? (Laughs) And if you dance Zouk, even better!

Ever since you co-founded RioZouk Asia, how has Zouk changed your life and what is Asia’s reaction to Zouk?
I got used to it for a long time. Zouk is awesome! The most impressive part is how the people around the world love Zouk. What I love most about my job is travel and teaching different kinds of people in different cultures. I learn so much more about life. Even though people in Asia like Zouk,  I still have to convince them. The hard part is when the women would be concern about flexibility while the men can be afraid of the moves as they look difficult and intimate. But Zouk is really close to exploding in Asia and there won’t be an escape any longer!

Do you think Zouk or other Latin dance styles are good in enhancing couples’ relationships?
We have many cases of couples starting to dance together and got married after that. For some of them, if they had problems, those problem disappear once they dance together (laughs).

You have travelled all over the world. Which is your most favourite country that you loved performing and teaching at, and why?
I say that all countries are amazing and some have very interesting cultural mindsets. For example, the Japanese are very attentive in doing everything quite accurate; India has amazing Bollywood swing; Filipinos are very laid back people. Each country is special but as a teacher, I have to say that Japan is the most unique.

Which other countries are in your plans for your RioZouk’s conquest? Is Singapore one of them?
Wow…in Asia we missed a few, but we still want to invade the important cities in big countries. In Japan, we have been to Tokyo but have never been to Osaka, for example. Zouk can start to grow there. I have been in Singapore more 10 year ago and I have taught in a a few fitness studios. I also taught AeroSalsa, cardio Lambada, Hip Hop and Lambada Zouk.

If you were not doing RioZouk Asia, what would you be doing today?
I think in life, one’s personal mission is “to be happy”, so Zouk is one way to be happy. I hope Zouk can keep the same flavour as in the start and it doesn’t become so commercial like other dance styles.

This article was published on Vida De Latinos’ online magazine, 1 March 2013.

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