Brazilian Dance

Some of the most famous dances in the world can trace back their origin to Brazil. Brazilian dances are energetic and extremely gracious. In this article we take a look at the different dances of Brazil...
"Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It's the rhythm of your life. It's the expression in time and movement, in happiness, joy, sadness and envy."

Well-known American ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise could not have described the art of dancing any better. There is no other art form apart from dancing that allows anyone who can move their feet to be as free and uninhibited. Dance is as old as humankind, its history can be traced back to the first celebration that human beings would have ever had. Every region has some dances that are specific to their culture and way of living. Today most dances have crossed these geographical boundaries and become international in nature imbibing cultural influences along the way, but when you talk about their origin and compare them to other dances from the same region, you see the similarities in the movement and grace, and of course the rhythm of the dance itself. The same holds true for most Brazilian dances. The history of Brazilian dance is long and colored with influences from Africa, Portugal and Europe, thanks to the explorers and rulers of the country. In this article we take a look at some of the most popular Brazilian dance types.

Brazilian Dance Styles

When you talk of Brazil and its dance, the first thing that comes to your mind is the dance form that we know as Samba. The origin of its name can be traced to the word semba from Bantu which translates to mean a man inviting a woman to dance. An alternative meaning attributed to the dance is appeal to the favor of the Gods through music and movement. The Samba has been important to the culture and tradition of Brazil for a long time. While initially this dance was considered to be obscene and vulgar, towards the 20th century with a change in the mindset of people, Samba developed into a dance style that was widely accepted and practiced. Today Samba dance steps are practiced in schools not just in Brazil but the world over.

Describing the dance form known as Capoeira is a little difficult since it is half dance and half martial arts. Originally danced by African slaves from Angola, it is said to have evolved from fighting styles. But there is a school of thought that believes this to be untrue maintaining that Capoeira history shows that there are influences from both Brazilian and African performers of dance styles. The name of the dance is believed to be derived from the word capao which has the rather morbid meaning of castrated rooster. This name could be because the Brazilian dance to a large extent resembles a fight between two roosters.

The Lambada dance form is also popularly known as the Carimbo after the large drums that are used to play the music for this dance. The Lambada dance is considered to be an extremely sensual dance form with body movements that resemble waves. The dance has influences from Africa, Portugal and Europe. This is one of the few Brazilian dances that uses a prop in the form of a handkerchief or a skirt. This prop is used for the majority of the dance and forms an integral part of the movements and dance steps.

Another popular Brazilian dance style is the Forro. A name that in itself means great party, it has to be one of the most popular dances in Brazil, danced to music from a variety of instruments including accordions and triangles. The dance is extremely synchronized and can seem to be extremely difficult to a casual viewer of the dance.

There are other popular Brazilian dances which are not so famous internationally, like the Batuque. This Brazilian dance has its origins in the dance styles of African slaves who performed this dance to the sounds of the drum. They formed a circle and a couple would perform the dance in the center of the circle and then pass the baton to another couple who would then perform in the center. Maracatu is another ceremonial Brazilian dance that is performed during Carnival and Christmas and has many theatrical elements in the dance. Brazil is a land of many dances and has been the origin place for many such art forms. Brazilian dances today can be learned in dance schools all around the world. So if you fancy any of these Brazilian dances, you can join a class to learn the dance form of your choice.
By Tulika Nair
Last Updated: 9/21/2011
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