Samba was developed in Brazil during the 19th century. It is considered
the dance of celebration and joy at Carnival celebrations in Rio.
In Brazil, a Samba dancer is known as a Sambista.
Lively and rhythmical, there are many types of Samba dances, just like there are
many types of Samba music. Ballroom partner Samba, one of the popular Latin
dances in ballroom competitions, is made up of many different South American
dances mixed into one.
Introduced in 1917, the Samba was not adopted by Brazil as a ballroom dance until 1930.
In Brazil, Samba is mostly danced solo, and remains especially popular during
celebrations of Carnival. The festive mood of the dance is responsible for its
continued popularity. In International style Latin dancing, the Samba is one of
the five Latin competition dances.
Before Samba became a ballroom dance style, there were many styles of partner
dances as well as solo Samba dances. As with the solo Samba, partner ballroom
Samba has a quick beat that requires fast footwork. Over the years, the Samba
has incorporated elaborate tricks, turns, and acrobatic feats into its basic
set of figures.
The main characteristics of the Samba are rapid steps taken on quarter beats
and a rocking, swaying motion of the dancers.
The major action of Samba, the "Samba Bounce" action, gives the dance its unique
look and feel. The Samba Bounce action is a gentle, rhythmic action felt through
the knees and ankles. Samba dancers must strive to make this action appear
effortless and carefree; it should never be exaggerated.
This bounce action is quite difficult to master, but really adds to the overall
character of the Samba.
Distinctive Samba Steps
The basic footwork of the Samba includes fast, three-step weight changes with
a slight knee lift, led with alternating feet. The basic rhythm is "quick, quick,
slow, and." Distinctive Samba steps include the following:
• Bota Fogos
• Kick Change
• Samba Side Steps
• Samba Strut
The Samba also has a distinctive, dramatic climax - it concludes with dancers
throwing back their heads and extending their arms out to the sides.
Samba Rhythm and Music
Samba music, with its distinctive rhythm, is highlighted by original Brazilian
musical instruments, including the tamborim, chocalho, reco-reco and cabaca.
Samba is danced to music with a tempo of about 100 beats per minute. The fast
and energetic rhythm of Samba music encourages spontaneous dancing, such as
in the streets during a Carnival celebration.