“Rio Rhythmics started me back on my dancing journey after many years and I’ll be forever grateful to everyone there for giving me the confidence to reconnect with my passion. It really did make a big difference to my life.” Zuleika Henderson
I was born in Brazil (although I grew up in London) so I felt like Samba helped me connect with my roots – and I loved the drums, I think maybe they lodged in my memory as a baby! When I moved to Brisbane I didn’t know anyone at all, so dancing with Rio Rhythmics also helped me settle in to a new city, and I made lots of friends who are still very dear to me today.
Is Samba something you ever imagined you would do?
Not at all. As a child I used to dance ballroom and Latin competitively so I only had a concept of Ballroom Samba, which is completely different. Then at 18 I had a serious road accident and was told I would never walk again. I was devastated! I didn’t think I would ever be able to enjoy dancing again. I never would have dared to imagine that years later I would be performing samba on stage in full costume! Taking up dancing again was daunting because I didn’t know if I’d get upset because I couldn’t dance at the level I used to, or if it would be painful and I’d have to give it up again.
I’m living in London now and I dance with the London School of Samba, which I love! I was in Notting Hill carnival last year and we perform regularly at Guanabara a Brazilian nightclub in Holborn and in other venues around the city. This year we went to Coburg in Germany to perform at the biggest samba festival in Europe. It was five performances and a parade over three days which was an exhausting but really incredible experience with my new London samba family. I made sure I wore my Rio Rhythmics bikini in honour of my Australian one too!
What is your next dancing goal?
Just to keep improving and developing as a dancer and see what new adventures it leads me to! The London School of Samba generally performs with a live bateria, so I’m enjoying getting more comfortable with that, and practise, practise as always. I really hope I’ll be able to visit my friends in Brisbane and dance with them again someday! Samba will always be my priority, but I’m curious about trying dance styles I’ve never done, like Samba de Gafiera and even Contemporary. To have fun and just dance from the heart, which is what it’s all about for me.