April 17th, 2010

The Portuguese imported many slaves from Angola and Congo into Brazil in the 16th century, these slaves brought with them their own dances which were considered sinful by the Europeans as they involved the touching of navels! In the 1830s a dance evolved combining the plait figures from these slave dances and the body rolls and sways of the native dances. Later, carnival steps were added like the Copacabana (named after the popular beach near Rio de Janeiro). Gradually members of the high society in Rio embraced it, although they modified it to be danced in closed ballroom hold which made it more socially acceptable. The dance was then called the Zemba Queca, and was described in 1885 as “a graceful Brazilian dance”. This later became called the ‘Mesemba’. The exact origin of the name ‘Samba’ is unclear.
The dance was later combined with the Maxixe which was introduced into the USA at the turn of the 19th century. It became popular in Europe after a demonstration in Paris in the early twentieth century. A form of the Samba was revived in UK in 1934. It was popularised by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their first film together ‘Flying Down to Rio’. It spread to the USA in 1938 and in 1941 its popularity was boosted by the film performances of Carmen Miranda. The Samba gained further popularity in the 1950’s by Princess Margaret, who played a leading role in the British social society.
Samba in its current international style still contains figures using very different rhythms, keeping true to the origins of the dance. Marie-Louise and Garreth enjoy dancing the Samba and especially exploring these different rhythms and the varying timings possible within the distinctive Samba music. The Samba has evolved into a party carnival dance which Marie-Louise and Garreth try to display within their interaction when performing this fast moving dance.

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