On Samba

Embed from Getty Images

For some background music, click the video. This Jennifer Lopez song has a wonderful Samba beat. Listen to the  rhythms.

Besides, Carnival 2019 in Rio de Janeiro has started!

 

General

Samba – some say SAM-ba, others say SOM-ba … I say the latter

Samba – a fun, lively dance to music of a distinct rhythm

Samba – a popular dance associated with Brazil; especially Rio’s Carnival

Samba – the fast dance associated with rocking, sexy motions

Samba – whose distinctive, energetic rhythm encourages people to move

History: Music and Dance

Samba – the dance and music rooted in the African people who came to Brazil

Samba – a dance done by Brazilians since the late 19th century to music rooted in the 16th century

Samba – a ballroom dance since 1930, today it is one of the five Latin competition dances

Carmen Miranda helped popularize Samba in That Night in Rio (1941)

Music

Donga & Mauro Almeida’s Pelo Telefone popularized Samba music in 1917 (click here for the recording)

Samba’s grew through the 1920s into the 1930s, eventually leading to the formation of Samba schools

Not all Samba music and rhythm is created equal – that is, there are different musical styles

In general, Samba music as a distinctive rhythm with pronounced percussion and played at a tempo of about 100 beats per minute

Different styles of Samba music include Samba Reggae, Samba Rock, and Samba de roda

Ballroom Samba music uses 2/4 timing with three weighted steps in two beats of music (more about that later)

Dance Styles

Samba is not one dance, but a set of dances – yet no one dance is definitely known as the “original” Samba

Types vary in movements, solo vs partner, musical rhythms, formality, influence by other dances, geographic region, occasion, acrobaticness, intimacy, and steps/patterns

Different Samba styles/dances are Samba de Gafieira (partners), Samba Pagode (partners), Samba Axé (solo), Samba Forró (partners), Samba no pé (solo dance typically done at Carnival by sambistas), and Ballroom Samba (partners)

Ballroom Samba includes American style and International style – both of which are different from the original Brazilian variations

Because of the competition nature of Ballroom Samba, standards and commonalities are established

Ballroom Samba

Ballroom Samba is a dance that can travel around the room (not staying in one spot/location), although some dance it as a spot dance

Ballroom Samba uses music with 2/4 timing, dancers use three weighted steps in two beats of music (for the musically inclined, the count is “one a-two”)

Ballroom Samba has one set (2 measures totally 4 counts) of 3 steps forward, then one set of 3 steps backward

The Leader steps forward on the left foot (that’s the 1 count), then the right foot forward to beside the left (that’s the “a” count), then changing the weight to the left in place (that’s the 2 count). (The Follower does the mirror opposite, starting with the right foot going backwards.) Then, both repeat the pattern in reverse and starting on the opposite foot.

Go back to the opening song to check if you can hear Samba’s feet rhythm.

The basic pattern can be done side-to-side (instead of forward then back) and in a box (forward, then to the side, together & weight shirt – back then to the side, together and weight shift). Also as a turning box.

In time, shifting weight and bending-straightening knees/legs create the body action while the upper body remains relatively still (except for arm movements)

 

Besides the Samba Basic, other common steps include Voltas, Bota fogos, Kick change, Runs, Promenade, Whisks, Struts, Taps, Locks, Rolls, Crosses, Step-ball-change, Under-arm turns, and more.

Here’s a very polished couple doing a routine with mostly basic moves. They are very good – although I’ve never seen anyone in my social ballroom world dancing Samba this well.

Closing

I’ll admit to several points:

  • I enjoy Samba music because it’s fun.
  • I enjoy watching people who dance Samba well at a social level.
  • I can’t do Samba very well.

Below are three different Sambas for you to enjoy. The first (from Dancing With the Stars) is well done, and highly choreographed. The second is competition level Samba. Choreographed as well, but done at a high level. The last (and not to leave the Brazilians out) are solo Sambas for Carnival. Let me know the ones you watched.

On Exploring the City of Dance Through Time-lapse

Embed from Getty Images

In Brazil every kid starts playing street football very early. It’s in our blood. As a professional I started at Sao Cristovao in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Of course I also played in the beach soccer league, barefoot. (Ronaldo, athlete)

Rio’s a beautiful city, a vibrant place, special place. (Eduardo Paes, politician)

People don’t really go to museums in Rio. I shouldn’t say it’s not sophisticated, but, you know, they go to the beach. (Francisco Costa, designer)

Oooooo…

When my baby,

When my baby smiles at me,

I go to Rio

De Janeiro.

My-o me-o…

I go wild and then

I have to do the samba,

And la bamba. (Lyrics, I Go to Rio, Peter Allen)

In 2016, the world travels to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympics. Let’s explore the city’s vibrancy through the lens of a time-lapse camera.

On a South American Wonder

Water is the driving force of all nature. (Leonardo da Vinci)

I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall. (Mike May)

The point is that when I see a sunset or a waterfall or something, for a split second it’s so great, because for a little bit I’m out of my brain, and it’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not trying to figure it out, you know what I mean? And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness. (Chris Evans)

There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you! (Mehmet Murat ildan)

Just as a waterfall grows slower and more lightly suspended as it plunges down, so the great man of action tends to act with greater calmness than his tempestuous desires prior to the deed would lead one to expect. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

One will never find in the waterfall of sights anything else than the Illusion of Life, which falls in torrents on the granite rocks of the souls. (Sorin Cerin)

Friends of ours just returned from an Argentina-to-Chile cruise. The day before boarding the ship, they took a tour of a place I didn’t know along the border of Argentina and Brazil. Once I saw this video, I knew this was a fitting post for us to explore … and the music is a perfect match for the scenery.

Have you heard of these? Have you been there? Which of the quotes stuck you?

On Fluttering Designs

Many years ago, an art teacher said something that has stuck with me (and I paraphrase). “The most interesting and intricate designs and patterns are in nature – and artists use them for inspiration.”

Not long ago we attended the 2011 butterfly show at Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory featuring butterflies from Brazil. Whether it’s seeing them fly around, marveling at the array of colors, examining the wing designs, watching them land on people, seeing kids gently getting one onto their finger, or observing them manipulate their proboscis to extra nectar, it’s a fun time.

To make my point, and that of the art teacher, enjoy the short video and slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See more from a better photographer than I.