Brazil Travel

Dance Tradition of Carnival

Musicians dressed in Carnival costumes in Rio de Janeiro In order to celebrate Carnival, dancers crowd into the streets, moving their bodies to the passionate sounds of the samba. Beginning with the Portuguese game of Entrudo and leading to the extravagant balls and parades of today, the dancing includes influences from African tradition. The samba grew out the samba, an Angolan word which translates as pelvic movements and the African rite of reproduction. The Samba Schools embrace the talents of the community creating movements, songs, costumes and floats that revere a historical event or person.

The accepted and customary form of samba danced in Carnival is the Samba no pe or Foot Samaba. This dance is usually done unaccompanied and begins immediately when the samba music starts. The dancer keeps his or her body straight while taking turns bending each knee. There is little foot movement as the body moves in a 2/4 rhythm, dancing three steps at a time. The speed of the movements change with the tempo of the music, some samba dance is very fast while other samba dances move at a standard pace.

A samba dance that includes a partner is the Samba de Gafieira. This dances dates back to the 1940s and is named for the trendy Rio de Janeiro discos of the time. The movements in this samba developed out of the polka, tango, waltz, and another samba music called Choro. These steps are performed in a short-short-long speed. Some Samba de Gafieira dances embrace acrobatic movements as well.

Another partner samba is the Samba Pagode. Much like the Samba de Gafieira, this dance uses less acrobatics and more close movements. The origins of this dance can be traced back to Sao Paulo. 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.

A newer version of the samba became part of the Carnival during the early 1990s. The Samba Axe is a dance performed alone and is completely structured to copy the words of the music. It is fast paced, full of life, and changes depending on the song and lyrics.

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