Wednesday, 30 August 2017

BRAZIL: Samba Brazilian Dance

Samba Dancers
The Samba dance Brazil style is a tradition, a custom, the heart and soul of the music and dance throughout the country. It's a Brazilian dance with roots going as far back as the 19th century.

Samba is a lively, rhythmical dance of Afro-Brazilian origin in 2/4 time danced to Samba music whose origins include the Maxixe.

Samba is a dance authentic to black/African people in Brazil who brought much of their music and dance culture into Latin America with, them upon arrival into many Latin American countries. Samba music is very similar to and has been influenced by many Angolan music genres. It has also been influenced by many other Latin American music genres and dances.

The Samba music rhythm has been danced in Brazil since its inception in the late 16th century. There is actually a set of dances, rather than a single dance, that define the Samba dancing scene in Brazil; however, no one dance can be claimed with certainty as the original Samba style.

The Samba dance originated in Brazil, so it has been part of their culture for many years. The Carnival celebrates the Samba each year, but even throughout the year, you can find the Samba danced in nightclubs, streets, and in backyards. The dance and the music are just a natural part of the Brazilian lifestyle and culture because it crosses the classes and it brings people together.

It is said that Samba connects everyone in Brazil because the poor and rich alike dance the Samba. Some people believe that Brazilian Samba is more important and more ingrained into Brazilian culture than even soccer!

Another major stream of the Samba dance besides the Brazilian Samba dancing styles is Ballroom Samba, which differs significantly.

Originally the Samba was a solo dance, but over the years there have been some partner Samba dances that have evolved in different areas of Brazil.

The popular Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro is known for the dancing of the Samba through the streets. It's a very quick dance with a lot of fun rhythm that naturally makes your feet and body want to move. Dancers who are proficient at dancing the Samba are called Sambistas.

Samba no pe or samba in the foot is a solo dance that is commonly danced impromptu when samba music is played. The basic movement involves a straight body and a bending of one knee at a time. The feet move very slightly - only a few inches at a time. The rhythm is 2/4, with 3 steps per measure. It can be thought of as a step-ball-change.

It can be described calling it and-a-one, and-a-two, then back to one. The basic movement is the same to either side, where one foot moves to the outside lifting up just before the first beat i.e. the right leg moves slightly to the right and leg is kept as straight as a pole. The other foot moves slightly towards the front, and closer to the first foot.

The second leg bends lightly at the knee so that the left side of the hip lowers and the right side appears to move higher. The weight is shifted to this inside foot briefly for the next and-a, then shifted back to the outside foot on the two, and the same series of actions is repeated towards the other side.

The dance simply follows the beat of the music and can go from average pace to very fast. Men dance with the whole foot on the ground while women, often wearing heels, dance just on the balls of the foot. Professionals may change the steps slightly, taking 4 steps per measure instead of 3, and often add various arm movements depending on the mood of the music.

There are also regional forms of the dance in Brazil where the essential steps are the same, but because of a change in the accent of the music people will dance similar movements to the slightly changed accents.

For instance, in Bahia the girls tend to dance tilting their legs towards the outside instead of keeping their knees close to each other as in Rio de Janeiro.

This is the type of Samba one sees in the Brazilian Carnival parades and in other Samba carnivals over the world. This is also one of the most common type of samba dancing in Brazil.

Samba de Gafieira is a partner dance considerably different from the Ballroom Samba. It appeared in the 1940s and it gets its name from the gafieira, popular urban nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro at that time.

The dance derived from the Maxixe and followed the arrival of the Choro another samba musical style. It left most of the Maxixe's Polka elements behind but maintained the entwined leg movements of the Argentine tango, although adopting a more relaxed posture than the latter.

Many see this form of Samba as a combination of Waltz and Tango. Several Brazilian dance studios use elements and techniques from these two dances to teach Samba de Gafieira steps and dance routines.

Samba Pagode is another Samba partner dance that resembles the Samba de Gafieira but has less acrobatic movements and tend to be more intimate. It became a dance style after the appearance of the Pagode and it started in the city of Sao Paulo.

Samba Axe is a solo dance that started in 1992 during the Brazilian Carnival season in Bahia when the Axe rhythm replaced the Lambada. For years it became the major type of dance for the North east of Brazil during the holiday months. The dance is completely choreographed and the movements tend to mimic the lyrics.

It's a very energetic kind of dance that mixes elements of Samba no pe and aerobics and because of the lyrics, which are made for entertainment, the dance generally has some sort of ludic element.

Several Axé music groups such as "E o Tchan" have as part of their marketing strategy to always release a choreography together with every one of their songs; therefore, Samba Axe is an ever-changing kind of dance with no commitment to maintaining any formal set of steps or routines there's actually no such a thing as a basic step in Samba Axe.

Samba Reggae, Also originated from Bahia, it's a mix of reggae beats with Samba drums. Very popular in songs by Daniela Mercury, who catapulted the rhythm to the world with songs like Sol da Liberdade "O Reggae E O Mar" and "Perola Negra".

Samba Reggae is the second most popular samba style in Bahia, with followers all over Brazil.

Samba rock is a playful form of the samba, and it originates in Sao Paulo. It is a Latin nightclub dance.

Samba de roda or Samba of roda, is a traditional Afro-Brazilian dance performed originally as informal fun after a Candomble ceremony, using the same percussion instruments used during the religious ceremony. The typical drum is the atabaque; drummers improvise variations and elaborations on common patterns, accompanied typically by singing and clapping as well as dancing.

The Samba de Roda is a celebratory event incorporating music, choreography and poetry.

The term Samba encompassed many different rhythms, tunes, drumming and dances of various periods and areas of the Brazilian territory. It appeared in the state of Bahia, more specifically in the region of Reconcavo in Brazil, during the 17th century.

Because all drumming and dance was generalized by Portuguese colonizers as samba, it is difficult to attribute it to one distinct heritage. However, the most universally recognized cultural origin of Samba is Lundu, a rhythm that was brought to Brazil by the Bantu slaves from Africa.

Lundu reveals, in a way, the amalgamation of black slaves and white Portuguese and indigenous cultures. When the African slaves where imported, it was named the semba and with the introduction of the Arabic Pandeiro (tambourine), brought into the Roda by the Portuguese, the Samba was molded into the form of dance it is now.

In the indigenous language, samba means roda de dança, or a circle to dance since the indigenous peoples danced in celebration on many occasions, such as the celebration of popular Catholic festivals, Amerindian or Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies, but was also practiced at random.

All participants, including beginners, are invited to join the dance and observe as well as imitate. Usually, only the women dance after each other and they are surrounded by others dancing in a circle and clapping their hands.

The choreography is often spontaneous and is based on movements of the feet, legs and hips. One of the most typical moves is the umbigada which is clear Bantu influence, where the dancer invites her successor into the circle's center.

Rapid steps coming down on the quarter beats of the music along with a sensual rocking and swaying motion of the people dancing the Samba are the two distinctive characteristics of the Samba dance.

There is also a special movement called the Samba bounce action that is associated only with the Samba. It takes quite a bit of practice to master this step and make it appear effortless. It's a dance step that appears to originate through the knees and ankles and move the body effortlessly, and is the signature move of the Samba dance.

steps attributed to the Samba include:

- The Samba Strut

- Bota Fogos

- Samba Side Steps

- Voltas

- Kick Change

These basic footwork moves are centered on the three-step move that includes a knee lift and alternating feet moving in a fast-fast-slow rhythm. Sambistas make the moves appear effortless, as if their feet are simply floating across the floor. It's really something to see!

The end of the Samba dance Brazil style is signified by the dancers tossing their heads back dramatically and then putting their arms straight out from both sides of the body. That's how you know the Samba has finished!

The factor that frequently draws the attention of most people to the rhythm is the unusually-accented or syncopated beat. The absent beat is the strongest characteristic of Samba prompting the listener to dance to fill the gap with her/his body movements. This syncopated rhythm is also an indication of Black resistance against cultural assimilation.

The Samba of Roda in particular was considered an expression of freedom and identity of the underprivileged and became a means of liberation.

The Samba de Roda has significantly waned during the twentieth century due to economic decline and increased poverty in the region. The effects of mass media and competition from popular modern music have also devalued this tradition among the younger generation.

Finally, the weakening of the Samba de Roda was heightened through the aging of practitioners and demise of those who made the musical instruments.

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