21st November 2014

Samba

History of Samba No Pe

Samba, a Brazilian style of dance is African in origin. Samba (aka Mesemba) means ‘to pray’ and is an Afro-Brazilian dance from the Bahia, Brazil region. At its inception, in the 1880s it was a combination of the Lundu group folk dance done by the West African slaves, Portuguese music, various Indian rituals, and steps & body motions from ‘Carnival’. During the 1900s it was mixed with the Maxixe (Brazilian folk dance combining the rhythms of the Habañera and the movements of the polka).

It has been performed as a street dance at carnival, for over 100 years. Many versions of the Samba (from Baion to Marcha) are danced at the local carnival in Rio.

During carnival time there are “schools of Samba” involving thousands of elaborately-costumed dancers presenting a national theme based on music typical of Brazil and Rio in particular.

There were and still are many different variations of the samba, including the Bossa Nova. It was at the 1939 New York World’s Fair that it also developed into a couple dance instead of always being done solo. The dance was introduced to United States movie audiences in 1933 when Fred Astaire and Dolores Del Rio danced the Carioca in Flying Down to Rio. Carmen Miranda danced the Samba in That Night in Rio.

Samba has a very specific rhythm, highlighted to its best by characteristic Brazilian musical instruments: originally called tamborim, chocalho, reco-reco and cabaca. Samba music came from daily life in Rio, the first famous example being “Pelo Telefone” composed by Donga.

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