All About the Sexy Samba Style of Dance

The Dance of Brazil and Carnival Time

Carnival dancers
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The samba is considered the dance of celebration and joy at Carnival celebrations in Brazil. Lively and rhythmical, there are many types of samba dances, just like there are many types of samba music. Ballroom samba, one of the popular Latin dances in ballroom competitions, is made up of many different South American dances mixed into one. In Brazil, a samba dancer is known as a sambista.

Samba Characteristics

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, partnered 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, sexy swaying motion of the dancers.

Samba History

Samba is a dance authentic to the African people in Brazil who brought much of the music and dance culture from Africa and infused it into Latin America culture. The samba music rhythm has been danced in Brazil since its inception in the late 16th century. There is actually a set of dances, rather than a single dance, that define the samba dancing scene in Brazil. No one dance style can be claimed with certainty as the original samba style. 

Brazilian 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. 

Brazilian samba differs greatly from ballroom samba. Ballroom samba was introduced in Brazil as a ballroom dance in 1930. In international-style Latin dancing, the samba is one of the five Latin competition dances. 

Samba Action

The major action of samba, known as 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. The bounce action is quite difficult to master and is the foundation of 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 of the samba is "quick, quick, slow, and." Distinctive samba steps include the following:

  • Voltas
  • Bota fogos
  • Kick change
  • Samba side steps
  • Samba strut

Also, the samba has a dramatic climax. It concludes with dancers throwing back their heads and extending their arms out to the sides.

Samba 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.