Brazilian dance is extremely rich and diverse in culture. It contains elements of African and European dance forms, that blended and formed a unique and fascinating catalogue of styles. There are several folkloric dances such as Ciranda, Maracatu, Frevo, Quadrilha and Bumba Meu Boi, and many dance styles have numerous variations. For example, in terms of Samba, there is Samba no Pé, Samba Reggae, Samba de Gafieira, Samba Rock, Samba de Roda, and Pagode that can be danced to Samba Music. On this page you will find the dances that have been offered or are currently performed or taught by dance schools and companies in Canada. This is a summary of what our community of dance professionals can offer to you in Toronto.
The Afro Brazilian dance has a substantial movement vocabulary inherited from African ancestors through oral tradition. This dance style was first recorded in the composition of African religions. With time, it has gained new meanings and expressions and has also incorporated some of the European and native cultures. Agility and release of head, shoulders, arms, torso and hips are common points of movements, ranging from intense energy, sluggishness and sensuality. Bent knees and feet strongly marking the rhythm show the connection with the earth.
Afoxé is a type of Afro Brazilian dance that is also called street Candomblé (Afro Brazilian religion). This street procession usually occurring during carnival is an African-Brazilian expression with roots in the Yoruba people.
Of Brazilian origin, Capoeira is a blend of martial art, sport, dance and philosophy. Dated back to the 1800s, it was developed by African slaves and has strong roots in the Brazilian native and Portuguese cultures. Through its emphasis on community harmony, it promotes constructive and non-violent assertiveness, flexibility, strength, grace and balance. Capoeira has different styles, for example, regional, Angola and contemporary. And it welcomes people from different ages and backgrounds. Capoeira is for everyone!!
Forró was born in the Northeast of Brazil from a mixture of African and European influences. Originally, it was characterized by the sound of the accordion, zabumba (a type of drum), triangle and the concertina, but now modern Forró – Forró Universitário – is known to have added electronic instruments. This simple two-step dance is danced by couples who hold each other closely and elaborate with turns and variations. There are several types of Forró dance styles, such as universitário, electronic, and pé-de-serra.
Samba de Gafieira is an elegant partner ballroom dance based on samba musical rhythm, though it is quite different from International Ballroom Samba. It can be danced to various types of samba rhythms; the most appropriate ones being Bossa Nova, Choro and Samba Canção. This beautiful dance has created its own identity after much influence from other dance styles such as Tango and Bolero. It originated in the 1930s as a social dance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and has evolved to become a samba style known for its grace and cheeky playfulness!
Accompanied by drums (atabaques), rattleboxes and other instruments, Samba de Roda is linked to the Orixás Cult and capoeira, and is followed in choir by the dancing group. It was developed in Bahia, Brazil, during the 17th century and drew heavily on the dances and cultural traditions of the region’s African slaves. The dance involves a circle (roda) with one or more dancers in the centre.
Samba no Pé is a Brazilian dance and musical genre also originating in Bahia, Brazil. It has its roots in Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival. Considered one of the most popular Brazilian cultural expressions, Samba no Pé has a very specific rhythm, highlighted to its best by characteristic Brazilian musical instruments. This style is the type of Samba seen in the Brazilian carnival parades and in other Samba carnivals all over the world. It is a very happy, elegant, high-energy and sensual dance.
Brazilian Zouk is a group of closely related dance styles based on or evolved from the Lambada dance style. Lambada is a sensual dance developed in the Brazilian tourist town of Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil, and the Caribbean in the 1980s. Zouk has been influenced by English, French and African cultures to create a beautiful dance fusion which has been embraced by the rest of the world. There are two different forms of Zouk: Caribbean Zouk, which is felt in 2/2 time, and Brazilian Lambada-Zouk, which utilizes 4/4 signature with beats on 1, 3 and 4. The word Zouk means “party” in the native Creole language.