What is the Samba?
Samba, a Brazilian dance focusing upon musical genres from the Brazilian state Bahia, has maintained roots within African religious traditions while expanding across the Western Hemisphere—delivering iconic cultural movements and maintaining its Brazilian Carnival roots.
Origins of the Samba
Modernly exhibited throughout Brazilian celebrations and street festivals, Samba’s origins lie within late Carmen Miranda street festivals throughout the late 1930s. Modern Samba, a complete departure from its original roots, has evolved across American ballroom dance styles—becoming its own style in modern times.
Modern Samba has been greatly influenced by several spheres of music. Across South African bands, Samba evolved within the 40s and 50s, becoming a ballroom orchestra staple within the 60s, the 70s and the 80s. Eventually, the dance evolved to then-modern Disco-style music entering the 90s, continuing to change, keeping pace with modern styles while reverberating older ideals.
Music of the Samba
Still widely considered one of Brazil’s largest symbols of dance, Samba music is incredibly popular across Brazilian cultural expressions, maintaining presence as a major aspect of cultural identity. The Bahian Samba de Roda, called “the dance circle” in English, maintains humble roots in Samba carioca, a musical and dance style prevalent across Rio de Janeiro.
Samba is danced within a 2/4 timing, and its music is defined by two, strong and recurring beats dispersed evenly across its tune. Traditionally, Samba is performed by string instruments and several percussion instruments. Having been influenced by American orchestras throughout World War Two, Samba heavily reflects post-war trumpets, trombones, clarinets and flutes.
Characteristics of the Samba
Samba is a progressive dance, maintaining dominance upon a classic, counter-clockwise step direction. Those performing Samba dance travel across the floor, experiencing a variety of rhythms, bouncing to the music’s action and practicing the style’s iconic “tic” movement.
Combining elegant and energetic movements, Samba is considered “playful” by many, and constructs consistent stances for both beginning and advanced dancers. Expressed well in constructive environments, Samba may be performed as a “social” dance, highlighting the mysticism of friendship and close movements near other dancers.