When the ‘Dance of Brazil’: The Samba. Originating from

When life releases it’s stultifying curse upon us, we always manage to find a way out. Some find refuge in the corybantic fantasy of books, others in the strenuous endeavors of sports, but dancing is by far the most enjoyed. Although “Dance” is a vast category which dilates frequently, there are those dances that are prominent amongst the sea of others. One of them being the ‘Dance of Brazil’: The Samba. Originating from Bahia*, South America, the Samba is one of the most popular dances to ever emerge from Brazil. By the early 20th century, the Samba had overtook the Rio Carnival, and became the predominant dance. Its primary use being entertainment, it easily weaved its way through the world. Soon this contagious dance spread across the world as one of the best known dances.*Bahia is one of the many states of Brazil, and is bordered by the Atlantic ocean on the northeast. Bahia is traversed by many rivers, which help it pull through the dryer seasons. The climate remains tropical throughout the year. With most of its territory located in the semi-arid zone, this state presents various climates and an average rainfall that ranges from 14.3 to 78.7 in each year.*  The Samba is essentially a partner dance, in which the dancers move to a rich and syncopated rhythm that fluctuates from fast and choppy, to a more fluid and steady beat. However, for the most part, it remains quick and sharp. The smaller details of the dance can vary due to perspectives of different dance choreographers, but the core essence remains. The word “Samba” is believed to have derived from the Kimbundu (Angolan) term semba, which translates to an “invitation to dance”. Additionally it was a well-known phrase for the dance parties held by slaves and former slaves in the rustic areas of Rio. These dances involved spiraling hip movements and is believed to have origins dating back to the early 1600s, from the Congolese and Angolan circle dances.Soon the Samba’s popularity was soaring higher and higher, so song forms were developed. In song form, the Samba’s popularity peaked during the turn of the century, with some early recordings dating back to 1911. Amongst the first pioneers of the song form was Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Jr. , who was better known as Pixinguinha. He contributed to the crystallization of this new form, and developed a richer harmony. From the 1920s to  the 30s, most sambas were slow and romantic, thus leading to the subgenre: Samba-canção. As samba-canção began to lose it’s previous momentum, newer styles were developed. Styles that were more percussive and groovy were taking shape in the poorer areas. This new style was at first known as samba de morro because of its emergence in the morros (hills), but later on was titled samba-de-batucada. In time, this new rhythm became the very heartbeat of the Rio Carnival. During the late 1950s, the development of the bossa nova greatly impacted the Samba. It emphasized the melodic and vocal aspects of the samba’s slower, more romantic style, and fused it with the richness of American jazz harmony. By the 1970s, samba saw its rise within the era of MPB (música popular Brasileira) as artists modernized the more dynamic batucada style with contemporary harmony and instrumentation, fusing samba with other forms, and bringing the style into the mainstream. The popularity had once again escalated to new heights; the Samba was now known world-wide, and new genres were emerging everywhere. Although it started out as a simple dance known by few, the Samba now resides among the top competitors in the dance world.