Brazilian dance is rich in culture, as elements of Africa, Portugal and Europe are seen throughout Brazil's gorgeous dance styles. Known mainly for partner dancing, Brazilian dance styles are known to resonate with people who know how to move, and the rest of the world can only hope to replicate the soul and passion of Brazilian dancers.
Famous Brazilian Dances
Like any nation, Brazil has dances that are both native to its country, as well as ones that have been brought in and shared by other cultures. However, there are some dances that Brazil is known for, with a brief list of them as follows.
Samba is what most people associate with Brazil when it comes to dance. The word originates from "semba", which is from the African Bantu language. It simply means "a man inviting a woman to dance". Semba can also be interpreted from "kusamba" which means to appeal to the favor of the Gods through music and movement. With both of these meanings together, the Samba has been integral in both religious and social Brazilian dance cultures for generations.
When slavery was abolished in 1888, Samba dance schools were opened all over Brazil. The wealthier families living in the country found Samba to be trashy and obscene; therefore, it was not often performed out in the open. However, at the turn of the century it grew in popularity and was eventually recognized as its own Brazilian dance style and musical genre in the 1920s.
Today, the Samba is still performed by couples, who mirror each other's steps - usually three steps to each bar of music. The women are very graceful, following the male's lead throughout the dance.
Carimbo or Lambada
Carimbo is not only a name of a Brazilian dance, but also the identifying title of the large drums used to play its music. The word Carimbo literally means "drum" in Tupi. This traditional folk dance has African roots, as well as Portuguese and European inspiration woven in. Considered a very sensual dance, females use some sort of cloth prop - a handkerchief or gauzy skirt - as a major part of the dance. The Lambada is a more modern form of Carimbo, and the word means "hit" in Brazilian Portuguese. The Lambada calls for body movements resembling waves, and hit its most recent peak of popularity in the 1980s.
The word Forro comes from "forrobodo", which literally means to have a great party. Forro reigns as one of the most popular Brazilian dances, especially in Northeastern regions, and can be danced to a diverse array of musical types. You will find a band playing accordions and triangles during traditional accompaniments for this dance, and partners who are skilled at the Forro will exhibit stunning synchronized moves that look incredibly complex to the causual observer.
While Brazil has long been known for its passion and romance in dance, it has recently enjoyed a revival of attention thanks to popular ballroom dancing television shows that borrow its various styles of dance, namely the Samba. Peppy and fun competitions such as Dancing with the Stars have brought a new focus to the Brazilian dance culture, and their choreography and musical stylings are much more prominent and commonplace than ever before.
If you would like to learn Brazilian dance, check to see if your city has a Brazil or Portuguese culture center. If not, you can sign up for ballroom dancing at almost any social dance studio, many of which offer the Salsa along with many other genres of partner dancing that are inherent to the Brazilian dance scene.