Ballroom samba is a rhythmic and energetic dance with its roots from Brazil and Africa. Although the samba is often performed in the festival Carnival, it should not be mistaken for the ballroom version of samba. The name is somewhat of a misnomer, as ballroom samba is significantly altered from Brazilian samba. According to dance historians, the Brazilian samba was influenced by an earlier dance called the maxixe (sometimes referred to as the Brazilian tango).
The ballroom variety of samba is a partner dance and can be performed in open or closed positions. The dancers can dance holding hands or side by side. Traditional Brazilian samba bears a name and some ancestry with ballroom samba; so the two should not be confused with one another. Ballroom samba may be danced to samba music or other South American rhythms.
Modern popularity of the dance may be attributed to Hollywood movies and reality dance shows where several couples choose to perform the samba. In the United States, samba gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s as Brazilian actors and musicians worked with Hollywood and Broadway to establish productions. Fortunately for samba, these productions were successful and the dance flourished. The ballroom version of samba is danced by constant up and down movements without bobbing. The motion appears as if the dancer is bouncing over and over again. As with many Latin dances such as the rumba, the bouncing action is accomplished through bending and straightening of the knee.
The basic samba movements is a series of steps going forward and backward with your partner in a closed position. While taking the forward and backwards steps, you should be bending and straightening your knees to achieve the trademark samba “bounce.” Now take the same steps only side to side. Instead of forward and back you would step left and right while doing the same bounce by bending and straightening the knees. When you become proficient in this, then practice turning. Remember, while your hips and bottom should sway, the upper torso and your hands should remain relatively still.
The ballroom version of samba is danced on a 4/4 or sometimes a 2/2 time. While the dance is beautiful and its movements exciting, it is generally performed by more experienced ballroom dancers. Most likely this is due to the dance’s high tempo and pace. The video on this page highlights some basics and important moves that someone beginning to learn samba should know. Come in and start learning samba as soon as today!