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!
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)
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)
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 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.
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.